Last year Joe Burrow’s biggest weakness was throwing the ball deep.
In fact, you could say he was the worst deep ball thrower in the league:
Joe Burrow was accurate on 7 of 40 deep passes (17.5%) last season.— QB Data Mine (@QBDataMine) March 7, 2021
The worst deep passer in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/0Qhf80NnKf
This year, he has the most touchdown passes of 30+ air yards in the entire NFL. You might say he’s now the best deep thrower in the NFL. So what’s changed? Did Burrow hit the weights and gain a stronger arm? Did the pro game start to slow for him? What is going on?!
PFF has Chidobe Awuzie graded as the 5th highest CB in the league #RuleTheJungle pic.twitter.com/lYEMTx6qJG— Jack (@Cincinneumeyer) October 18, 2021
You can actually find the very simple answer by just looking at the recipient of those four long touchdown passes: Ja’Marr Chase. The three-time Rookie of the Week and second year QB formed a dynamic duo at LSU, especially deep. Chase had 24 receptions of 20+ yards in 2019, Burrow’s historic season. Then, all of a sudden, the rookie QB was without such a talent last year, and his Pro Football Focus grade for deep throws dropped from 98.2 to 61.5.
Unfortunately, many made comments about Burrow’s “weak” arm. Others said the Bengals’ o-line couldn’t give him enough time to set up longer throws. But really, it was entirely clear that the team lacked a gamebreaker.
There is a special chemistry between Burrow and Chase, maybe the best in the league. I know, that sounds silly considering they’ve played six games together in the pros. But I think it might be true. While the numbers are great, watching the games, one is reminded of the seemingly unstoppable connection between Randall Cunningham and Randy Moss back in 1998, Moss’ rookie year. If the Bengals’ defense wasn’t superb, Burrow might feel the urge to hurl even more long balls to Chase... and he would catch a lot of them.
For those of you keeping track, I predicted this very development—Burrow returning to elite status as a deep thrower upon the return of Chase—back in early May. And now I predict the duo will continue to roll against a Baltimore Ravens defense that has given up 25 or more points in half of their games this season.
You can watch our preview of Bengals vs. Ravens below:
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