The Cincinnati Bengals made it clear that they were all-in with Joe Burrow as a day-one starter when they released Andy Dalton, who had been their starting quarterback and a multiple-time Pro Bowler over the course of the past nine seasons, going to the playoffs five years in a row.
They didn’t know at that point that the offseason would be as limited as it has been, and continues to be. By the middle of May, it had become obvious that there not only would be no rookie minicamps, there would also be no OTAs nor mandatory minicamp, either. As we sit here right now, we can’t even guarantee beyond a shadow of a doubt that training camp will open on time.
While teams have at least had the opportunity to be in regular contact with their players and to teach them their system—an advantage that the rookie class of 2011 that was locked out by the owners during Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations—the lack of physical reps will inevitably be limiting.
It’s been some times since the Bengals have had meaningful success—a few decades, for example, since they last won a playoff game. One of their great quarterbacks of the past, Ken Anderson, is hoping that Burrow will be the one to ultimately lead them back over that hump. But he has his concerns for this season for the obvious reasons.
“Any quarterback will tell you that your performance is directly related to the other 10 guys that you have on the field with you”, he told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I think you have to be patient with Joe. He can’t do it all by himself. Everybody is going to have to do their part. I think the Bengals are going and growing in the right direction. I like the philosophy and the leadership Zac Taylor is showing. The big thing I’m looking for this year is I want to see the signs of improvement”.
After making the playoffs five straight years, the Bengals have posted losing records four years in a row, finally bottoming out at 2-14 in 2019, which is what put them in position to draft Burrow with the first-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft following a historic senior season for LSU.
“I think the Bengals have a bright young staff”, Anderson said regarding a coaching staff that has been nearly turned over since the past two years. “I think they will adapt to him and a lot of the things he did in college. There’s a transition there. The Bengals like three wide receivers and they’ll be in shotgun. That’s a lot of the stuff he did in college. From an offensive standpoint, I think it’ll be a smooth transition”.
Burrow may end up being great. But how will he look in 2020? That’s the question for now.