While the NFL offseason (hopefully) nears it’s conclusion with the commencement of training camp, rookie QB Joe Burrow faces one of the hardest tasks ever placed on a number one pick. With the number one pick already guaranteed to start the first game of the season is he already the victim of the bungling Bengals?
Back on April 30th, with coronavirus already disrupting team activities and the NFL’s first ever virtual draft, the Bengals cut veteran starter Andy Dalton, clearing $17 million in cap-space, and setting in motion a death clock on the rookie quarterback.
By assuring Joe Burrow unencumbered access to the starter’s role they also cut off two of the most valuable assets a rookie can have, knowledge, and time. Because while it makes some sense to remove the uncertainty for Burrow, there will be no one calling for Ryan Finley to start if Burrow struggles, Dalton would have been a great source of information, and would’ve helped him learn the playbook.
We can all agree that $17 million is way too much to pay a backup QB, but the Bengals have, up to now, chosen not to strengthen their QB room with a veteran who could help their young charge. The Jets have done it by adding Joe Flacco, and the Dolphins planned ahead adding wayward veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick for first Josh Rosen, and then Tua Tagovailoa.
But the Bengals have decided Burrow is fine to be the only decent QB on their roster.
While some of what comes next is out of the Bengals hands, some was almost inevitable.
Coronavirus vs Joe Burrow
At the time, it could be argued, some people thought COVID-19 would be gone in a few days, or that it wasn’t that serious. However, with the US death toll at over 143,000 this is clearly not the case. And it has massively impacted on the preparation that Joe Burrow can do.
So while Burrow should be on the field in Cincinnati learning with his new team mates, he’s practicing with his old college team mates, going over the playbook, and learning virtually with Bengals OC Brian Callahan.
Callahan said “It’s an incomplete picture, but from everything we’ve seen from virtual walk-throughs and communication with players in the meetings and with us on the coaching side, all the things lead you to believe it’s going to be good.”
“The guys see his preparation and work ethic. His knowledge of an offense that he’s new to, that always grabs people’s attention. When they come in and know what to say and how to do it and all the things that are required of a quarterback in an NFL offense, he’s exemplified all these things and that gets everyone’s attention first. Plus, his past precedes him. He’s got some pelts on the wall and these guys see all that.”
Now it’s obvious that Joe Burrow is a very good quarterback, but these things can take some time to come together on the football field. You only have to look back at Peyton Manning, Troy Aikman, and the likes to know it’s not a simple transition.
Throw in other NFL quarterbacks taken high in the draft who have been thrown in at the deep end at there are a lot of sinkers, and stinkers, in there. The danger for Burrow in the modern NFL, is that if he has a bad season, the Bengals will be drafting high again, and may consider moving on from him in short shrift.
Then you factor in the lack of home-field advantage this season, and only two preseason games now scheduled, and there’s really not much gone right for Burrow. If there was only some way he could have a veteran around to show him the ropes and make that transition a little easier and take some of the pressure off…