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Few, if any, NFL quarterbacks had rookie and second-seasons like Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame signal-caller Dan Marino. Until the Cincinnati Bengals second-year sensation Joe Burrow, that is.

In year two, Burrow and Marino brought their teams to the Super Bowl and looked like they’d perennially be in the Big Game. However, that just wasn’t the case for Marino, which should make Bengals fans nervous.

Hall of Fame Miami Dolphins QB Dan Marino and Cincinnati Bengals Joe Burrow have a lot in common

There are several similarities and differences between Miami Dolphins legend Dan Marino and Cincinnati Bengals young phenom Joe Burrow.

They were both excellent college signal-callers, but Burrow went No. 1 overall to a bad Bengals team, while Marino fell to No. 27 in the legendary 1983 draft and ended up on a Dolphins squad that lost in the Super Bowl the season before.

Despite the different circumstances, Marino and Burrow impressed in their first two pro seasons. Here are the stats:

Dan Marino: 25 games started, 21-4 record, 62.2% completion rate, 7,294 yards, 68 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, 23 sacks

Joe Burrow: 26 games started, 12-13-1 record, 68.1% completion rate, 7,299 yards, 47 touchdowns, 19 interceptions, 83 sacks

Just like Burrow led his team to a Super Bowl in season two, so did Marino. And, both QBs suffered the same general result. Burrow’s Bengals fell to the Los Angeles Rams in a 23-20 heartbreaker, while the San Francisco 49ers and Joe Montana handily beat Marino’s Dolphins 38-16 in Super Bowl 14.

A comparison to Marino is almost always a compliment in all NFL contexts unless it’s about the Super Bowl.

Marino never made it back to the Super Bowl after his second season

(L-R) Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow talks with the media during Cincinnati Bengals Super Bowl LVI media day on February 11, 2022, at UCLAs Drake Stadium in Los Angeles, CA; Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins during the Dolphins 22-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers in the 1994 AFC Divisional Playoff Game on January 8, 1995 at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California.
(L-R) Joe Burrow, Dan Marino | Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images; Photo by Peter Brouillet/Getty Images.

After the 1984 Super Bowl, Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins” future looked bright. The former Pitt Panther passer was off to a great start to a career, and he had two dynamic young WRs in “The Marks Brothers” (Mark Clayton, 22, and Mark Duper, 25).

However, the team’s offensive line and defense were aging. Also, even with Marino leading the league in passing nearly every season, the franchise couldn’t find a running back/running game to take pressure off its star.

The result was an AFC Championship Game loss in 1985 to the New England Patriots, followed by a four-year playoff drought.

From 1990, when Marino and the Dolphins got back to the postseason until he retired following the 1999 season, Miami made the playoffs a respectable seven times.

Marino only got out of the Divisional Round once in those seven seasons, though, and never made it back to the Super Bowl.

If you told Dolphins fans on January 21, 1985, that the night before would be the team’s last Super Bowl appearance of the Marino Era, they would have laughed in your face.

It’s a similar reaction as you’d get from Cincinnati Bengals fans if you told them today that Sunday was it for the Joe Burrow Era.

Is that possible, though?

Can the Bengals make the 2023 Super Bowl? 

Despite the worrisome similarities between Joe Burrow and Dan Marino, Cincinnati Bengals fans do have a lot to be excited about in 2022 and beyond.

Cincy will still be an incredibly young next season. Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Joe Mixon, Evan McPherson, Tee Higgins, Jessie Bates III, Logan Wilson, Mike Hilton, D.J. Readers, and Trey Hendrickson are all 27 and under. The team also has all their 2022 draft picks.

The Bengals also have the fourth-most cap room heading into this offseason. With approximately $50 million in space, the team can fix its holes (offensive line) and add more talent and depth across the roster.

There is a problem for Burrow and company, though, and it’s similar to the one Marino ran into decades ago.

The AFC is loaded with good teams and great QBs. Winning the AFC North and running through the playoffs will not be easy the next few years.

In the ’80s and ’90s, Marino ran into Jim Kelly, John Elway, Warren Moon, and Boomer Esiason. Today, Burrow will have to navigate Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, and Lamar Jackson (plus possibly Mac Jones, Trevor Lawrence, and/or Zach Wilson).

The AFC is set up to be brutally tough for the next decade, just like it was in Marino’s era. That’s why, as good as Burrow is already at such a young age, you just never know in the NFL.

Sorry, Bengals fans.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference


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