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You don’t want to blitz Joe Burrow

Apparently, the key to beating the Bengals is not thinking you can catch the young QB off guard.

Cincinnati Bengals v New York Jets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Please blitz Joe Burrow.

That may sound strange considering he’s coming off major knee surgery. But in all three Bengals losses—against the Chicago Bears, the Green Bay Packers, and the New York Jets—the team was blitzed less than 25% of the time. In fact, those games were the three in which Cincinnati was blitzed the least (14.7%, 19%, and 24% respectively).

Meanwhile, the Bengals surrendered 11 sacks in those three games, meaning, those teams were able to get to Burrow despite not throwing extra defenders his way very often.

Burrow sets himself apart from other young quarterbacks (and many veteran quarterbacks) in terms of his ability to read a defense and respond quickly. That is why he will often burn a team for blitzing him, like when he set up the game-winning field goal against the Jacksonville Jaguars:

Not surprisingly, Burrow has a far higher QB rating against the blitz than he does in other passing situations:

If you’re into fantasy football, Burrow has the fourth most points per blitz attempt:

What’s interesting is that the Jets knew this and adjusted their game plan. They saw that he threw the ball down the field against the blitz to great success, so they moved away from their heavy blitz rate on third down:

So what will we see from the Cleveland Browns on Sunday? Will they rely on Myles Garrett and company all game or will they try to catch Burrow off guard?

We preview that game with the editor of Sports Illustrated’s Browns Digest, Pete Smith, in the video below:

You can also listen on iTunes or using the player below: