Joe Burrow may be a phenom, but no one should have expected him to light up the Cincinnati Bengals’ defense in a game-like atmosphere the way he was in practice.
Sure, the defense was without Darius Phillips, Trae Waynes, Carlos Dunlap, Shawn Williams, and Carl Lawson. But the unit still features stars like Geno Atkins, D.J. Reader, Jessie Bates, and Vonn Bell.
As a result of facing his first “real” game action, Burrow needed a little time to adjust. His first three passes fell incomplete, but he responded with a sharp second drive, completing 3 of 4 passes for 71 yards and a 28-yard touchdown to Tyler Boyd. You can expect that combo to make some noise in the upcoming season. “TB is going to have a big season,” said Burrow. “I have a great connection with him right now.”
Burrow also found fellow rookie Tee Higgins for a big conversion along the sideline and finished 19 of 34 for 200 yards with one pass being ruled an interception, though it may well have been defensive pass interference.
Overall, though, it was a display of Burrow’s mental fortitude more than anything. Yes, he was facing a defense that wasn’t at full strength, but he similarly was without some of his biggest weapons, A.J. Green, Joe Mixon, John Ross, and camp star Auden Tate.
Zac Taylor called his franchise QB’s performance “solid.” He had this to say about what impressed him most: “His command of the offense, leadership in the huddle, understanding what he’s got to do to move this offense, his competitiveness and his urgency.” Of course, the head coach isn’t satisfied yet, as he said, “Certainly, there are areas to clean up, there’s no question about that.”
Overall, the Bengals head coach is pleased with what he sees in his QB: “He’s just been impressive. He’s what we expected when we took him No. 1 overall.” At this point, you really can’t ask for much more.