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Are the Bengals holding Joe Burrow back?

The franchise QB coming off a horrific knee injury must be protected. But a lack of aggression on offense could be hurting the team.

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Sheer brilliance. That is what Joe Burrow’s performance late against the San Francisco 49ers was.

Anyone who knows football knows that the Bengals’ second-year quarterback was absolutely on fire, connecting on tough, downfield throws time after time again. And one of the very best plays was completely unscripted.

Burrow would later connect with Ja’Marr Chase again for a touchdown to tie the game with just 1:19 remaining. His accuracy and aggression on that drive was just [chef’s kiss].

While fans of the Los Angeles Chargers will disagree, Burrow deserved every bit of the praise he received. Pro Football Focus had him at five big-time throws and a 90.3 passing grade.

And yet, as we all know, the Bengals lost the game because they failed to remain aggressive in overtime. After Burrow got the team down to the 26-yard line following a 26-yard completion to Tee Higgins and a 23-yarder to C.J. Uzomah, Zac Taylor decided to run on first and second down (a decision he’d later regret terribly). Burrow would finally get to throw again on third down, though he was sacked by Nick Bosa, essentially forcing Cincinnati to kick the field goal. The 49ers, of course, scored a touchdown on their next drive to win the game.

While there is no point in ruminating on the decisions of that game now, the problem is that they are part of a larger trend. The Bengals under Burrow are one of the very best teams in the league when passing on first down, but they do it at a rate that is 28th in the league.

Instead of letting Burrow set the tone and try to open things up with his downfield throws, the team is hoping to “establish the run,” perhaps to prevent the quarterback from getting hit by slowing down the game and giving him short yardage situations.

We debated Taylor’s decisions and the extent to which this should be Burrow’s offense in our preview of the upcoming game against the Denver Broncos. Watch below:

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Should Zac Taylor allow Burrow to be more aggressive (cook)?

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