The AFC North saw the debut of yet another new quarterback on Sunday, that being Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals, the first-overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. He narrowly lost to the Los Angeles Chargers in Cincinnati’s opener after having a go-ahead touchdown nullified by penalty with 12 seconds remaining, and then having his kicker miss a game-tying field goal.
Overall, he completed 23 of 36 pass attempts on the day for 193 yards. He failed to put the ball in the end zone, and threw one interception. At least, he failed to put the ball in the end zone through the air. He did score a rushing touchdown on one of his eight carries, for a total of 46 yards. He also fumbled once, but the ball went out of bounds.
For his own part, Burrow was not satisfied with his debut. He gave himself a D for his level of play. “I can’t miss that throw to” A.J. Green in the end zone, he said, referring to the final offensive play, a touchdown nullified by an offensive pass interference penalty. “A high schooler can make that throw. And I can’t throw the ball right to Melvin Ingram when we’re in scoring range, so it was a tough way to lose”.
Needless to say, the arrow is pointing up for Burrow. Considering the circumstances of his rookie season, which his first in-game experience coming live against a real opponent, having no opportunity to play in a preseason game, it wasn’t bad. His teammates and coaches are more impressed than he was.
“He’s unbelievable. That guy doesn’t flinch. The way he handled himself in that last drive was unbelievable”, Green said of his new quarter after catching five passes for 51 yards. “I haven’t seen no rookie the way he handled it after adversity. We got a special one in Joe and we are gonna be better next week”.
The Bengals have a short turnaround, as they play the Cleveland Browns tomorrow night. Cleveland is also coming off a loss—a trouncing really—at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens. After Cincinnati’s kicker missed the field goal in the end, they claimed Cleveland’s kicker off waivers.
As for second-year head coach Zac Taylor, he is still searching for victory number three since taking over the team, and needless to say, his future is very much tied to Burrow and what he can do with the young quarterback. he was Jared Goff’s quarterback, so he has some background developing first-overall picks.
“We believe in him. There’s never any doubt on that”, Taylor said of his rookie quarterback. “He verified what we already knew. We felt like our offense should be more explosive than it was, especially in the first half. We found a better rhythm in the second half”.