For better or worse, the fate of every franchise is tied at some point to a ‘franchise quarterback’, and whether or not that player lives up to the billing. The Cincinnati Bengals have been searching for a true franchise quarterback for quite a while, as evidenced by the fact that they have not won a postseason game in a few decades. They are hoping to have finally found one in Joe Burrow.
Of course, the 2020 first overall pick is currently rehabbing from a torn ACL that he suffered in the second half of his rookie season, along with other damage. He showed promise during his time on the field, but overcoming the early-career injury is just another hurdle. The good news is that he is feeling good about his road back.
“I’m very optimistic about where I’m at and also where the team is at,” he said recently on a Pro Football Focus podcast with Cris Collinsworth. “Rehab is going very, very well and lifting is going very, very well. I’m in great shape. Legs feel good; knee feels good. There’s still a long way to go, but I’m expecting to be there on the first snap of 2021.”
He added that he is ahead of schedule and that he expects to be out there on the field for the Bengals in Week 1 and for practices as well, which is certainly welcome news for a franchise that has won a combined six games over the course of the past two years.
Burrow started the first 10 games of the 2020 season for Cincinnati last season before suffering his knee injury. The team went 2-7-1 in that span, though obviously as a rebuilding team, you can’t hold records against them.
He completed 264 of 404 pass attempts during the year for 2,688 passing yards, throwing 13 touchdowns to five interceptions, and was on an upward trajectory at the time of his injury. In the three games before the injury, he threw six combined touchdowns to one interception, going 82-for-124 with 868 yards through the air.
Burrow’s injury occurred early in the second half of the following game against Washington. He had completed 22 of 34 pass attempts for 203 yards with one touchdown. The Bengals were winning 9-7 at the time of the injury, and they went on to lose, 20-9.
To aid him, the team went out and signed tackle Riley Reiff in free agency, and they are working on surrounding him with more talent at the skill positions, starting with Tee Higgins at wide receiver in the second round a year ago.
Cincinnati likely drafts another wide receiver, and perhaps a tight end as well, though C.J. Uzomah returns at the position as Drew Sample continues to develop. Joe Mixon remains their feature back, with Samaje Perine taking over the number two role with Giovani Bernard’s departure.