Joe Burrow Is Not Only the Cincinnati Bengals’ Savior, but He’s Now Also a ‘Baby’ Aaron Rodgers

The Cincinnati Bengals clearly want Joe Burrow to help them win the first Super Bowl title in franchise history. But expecting him to become the next Aaron Rodgers might be a bit much.

Welcome to the world of Bengals defensive lineman Mike Daniels, who has played alongside both quarterbacks. Not only does he see Burrow as the Bengals’ savior, but he’s reminded of a three-time NFL MVP when he spends time with the second-year quarterback.

Bengals lineman Mike Daniels compared Joe Burrow to Aaron Rodgers

There might be no bigger fan of Burrow’s at Paul Brown Stadium this season than Daniels, the veteran defensive lineman.

During a recent appearance on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football, Daniels called Burrow “Baby Aaron.” The Aaron in question is Rodgers, who played alongside Daniels on the Green Bay Packers from 2012-18.

Daniels, who is in his second season with the Bengals, praised Burrow’s leadership abilities and compared it with what he saw on a daily basis from Rodgers in Green Bay.

“You don’t see many rookies step into a locker room, and you would think the guy is a four-year vet if you didn’t know who he was. And to have that at the quarterback position, that means he has the right type of savvy, the right type of poise that you only see from guys like Aaron. And I’ve been saying it since I got there, I see a lot of similarities between the two, and I’m just excited to be able to be part of it, man.”

Mike Daniels

Daniels also assured Bengals fans that they’re right in believing in Burrow.

“And you talk to ‘Who Dey’ nation, they’re gonna let you know — Joe Burrow is the savior, man,” Daniels said. “He really is to this organization.”

Let’s hold off on any comparisons between Burrow and Rodgers for now

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow in 2020.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is already earning comparisons to Green Bay Packers legend Aaron Rodgers | Andy Lyons/Getty Images

If Daniels, who turned 32 in May, is nearing the end of his NFL career, he should think about applying to join First Take after his recent comments.

Rodgers is among the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. He’s a three-time NFL MVP who has regularly done more with less, especially in recent years, and often single-handedly kept the Packers’ postseason hopes alive. L

Burrow is already a player who fans will hate to love. He’s charming off the field and showed as a rookie that he has a chance of being stellar at the sport’s highest level. Before suffering a season-ending knee injury in November, Burrow completed 65.3% of his passes for 2,688 yards, 13 touchdowns, and five interceptions across 10 games.

Does Burrow have a bright future in Cincinnati? Sure. No one is saying he can’t become a capable star in his own right? But Daniels joined the Packers in 2012, Rodgers’ sixth season as an NFL starter. By that point, the veteran quarterback had already won a Super Bowl, and he’d just earned his first MVP Award.

There are issues, then, with comparing Burrow at this stage of his career to Rodgers in 2012. The one thing working in Daniels’ favor is he did spend so much time on the same season as Rodgers, so he has a fair degree of credibility. 

With that said, there’s nothing wrong with holding off on extremely lofty comparisons. Burrow is his own player, and that’s perfectly acceptable. We’d rather hear this from Daniels than from Stephen A. Smith.

The Bengals should nonetheless hope Burrow follows Rodgers’ path to greatness

If the Bengals want Burrow to be as successful as Rodgers, they’re certainly showing a willingness to try fulfilling that dream.

The Bengals selected LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase, Burrow’s former teammate, with the fifth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. In hopes of avoiding watching Burrow suffer another knee injury, the Bengals drafted three offensive linemen this spring and signed former Pro Bowler Riley Reiff to play right tackle.

It’s still too early to suggest the Bengals will make the postseason in a competitive AFC North Division. Instead, keeping him upright and letting him continue developing as a quarterback should rightfully be the Bengals’ priorities this fall.

The NFL has a tendency of being strange. A healthy Burrow who has time to throw and take advantage of several impressive weapons, including second-year wideout Tee Higgins, might be able to help the Bengals overachieve and approach seven or eight wins.

Who knows? Rodgers took a massive leap forward in his second season as a starter and brought the Packers to the NFC Wild-Card Round after the 2009 season. If Burrow does the same this coming season, then maybe Daniels will have been onto something all along.

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