The Bengals are obviously in a very tough spot, which isn’t that uncommon for this franchise in recent history. The first overall pick from the 2020 draft quarterback Joe Burrow went down with an ACL injury in Sunday’s game against Washington.
Many fans and analysts have thrown out their own predictions of the rookies recovery time days following the injury. Head coach Zac Taylor has also said he expects Burrow to be ready for the 2021 season.
However, ESPN analyst Booger McFarland shared a far more conservative plan for bringing the rookie back into the fold. One which may take longer than some are comfortable with.
“If you’re saying it’s going to be 9-12 months and you’re talking about it’s already in jeopardy as far as ‘21 season, I’m not bringing him back until 2022,” McFarland said. “Joe Burrow is a franchise quarterback. He’s the future of this Bengals team. [The team] doesn’t seem to be ready to win now. Don’t risk him in 2021. Sit him out, bring him back in ‘22.”
First off, no one wants Burrow to rush back in a state in which doctors have not deemed him okay to play in. Everyone wants the rookie to comeback healthy enough to make the plays we’ve all seen him make his entire rookie season. If it turns out his recovery takes a little bit longer to recover from and he is just never healthy enough to go during a meaningful part of 2021, then that is fine. However, predetermining that is just kind of ridiculous for a few reasons.
This is an easy suggestion to make when you have zero stakes in the team. The idea behind this is sound in principle, but it would look ridiculous in actual practice. Imagine if Burrow was healthy enough to play in the 2021 season, but the Bengals said they just want to sit him on the bench because they don’t feel they are ready to compete.
When does a team make that determination that they are ready to compete, and how do you convince an owner that he just drafted this guy first overall the year before and the fans and team have embraced him, but you don’t think the team is ready to compete so you’re just going to sit him. That is a quick way to get fired if I’ve ever seen one.
That also sets a bad example for the rest of the team. You are telling them that the team as constructed in 2021 isn’t going to be good enough to play alongside Burrow. What player is looking to sign with that team or stay there? Who is looking to give their best effort when the team is essentially openly saying we don’t care about this season?
One of the biggest points against this is probably the fact that Burrow himself would never go for this. He already was refusing to be taken out of games that were out of reach where he was getting destroyed. You think you could happily keep him off the field if doctors are telling him he can play?
I get the sediment here, and it is coming from a good place. Cincinnati is lucky enough to have a quarterback that is so beloved across the NFL landscape. However, when Burrow is healthy, it is a safe bet he will be on that field, and he won’t be concerned if that isn’t completely 100 percent. The Bengals would just be smart to make sure they have the best offensive line possible in order to protect him when that happens.