While we all anxiously await the opportunity to see rookie quarterback Joe Burrow compete in a Bengals jersey, we got a little closer Sunday night as the team’s second scrimmage was broadcast on the radio.
The defense won the scrimmage, and Burrow was not happy with his performance. He made that clear in his postgame press conference, but the media has noticed his consistent effort and focus in practice every day.
When asked about this, Burrow had a very interesting response.
“I’m a competitor, I want to win every single day,” he said. “And I’m always competing against myself to get better every day. And when I’m competing against myself, I’m also competing against all the other quarterbacks, all the other defenses, all the other defensive coordinators in the league. So I can’t waste a day, especially as a rookie. I’m going to attack every day like it’s Sunday, like it’s the Super Bowl. That’s how I’m going to approach it.”
First, I love how he talks about “competing against myself.”
This is something Tim Gallwey talks about in his book The Inner Game of Tennis, which is one of the best and most accessible books on sports psychology ever written.
Let’s look at Drew Brees and Tom Brady for example. They are not competing with other quarterbacks for a starting position. They won their starting positions long ago.
So, who are they competing against in training camp and the offseason?
They are competing with themselves. They are working hard to perfect their craft, striving to be better than they were the day before. They are doing this every single day.
Burrow has the right mindset.
Burrow also says he is competing against “all the other quarterbacks, all the other defenses, all the other defensive coordinators in the league.”
He is competing against “all the other quarterbacks,” to be the best and put his team in position to win in this quarterback-driven league.
In a literal sense, it is other defenses and other defensive coordinators who he will be directly competing with on the field this fall. So he should be competing against “all the other defenses” and “all the other defensive coordinators” in practice.
Burrow knows that they are all out there in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and in every other NFL city, working to get better every day. And if he isn’t doing the same, he won’t have a chance of beating them.
“Especially as a rookie,” he added, which is absolutely correct. Brees has 19 years of experience to draw on, and Brady has 20. After getting better every day for two decades, at this point, they can handle just about anything a defense can throw at them.
Burrow understands that he doesn’t have this yet, and that there is a steep learning curve to compete with the best.
He is treating “every day like it’s Sunday, like it’s the Super Bowl,” because the only way to be great is to compete to be great every single day.
Burrow has a deep understanding of competition and of what he needs to do to be great.
It is going to be very fun to watch him develop in Cincinnati.