Yes, Pro Football Focus is based in Cincinnati. But so is almost every other delectable thing out there.
No, but seriously. The PFF slander has gotten out of hand.
One Bengals fan who happens to work for the site as a graphic designer, Andrew Russell, is under constant attack for expressing his fandom and posting positive Joe Burrow grades.
So it’s about time we take a look at why, exactly, PFF is so generous toward Burrow.
Joe Burrow has recorded a @PFF Grade of 85+ in FIVE games this season…— Cris Collinsworth (@CollinsworthPFF) December 28, 2021
No other QB has more than three such games.
In short, the quarterback elevates his team and effortlessly navigates potentially-disastrous situations more often than any other signal caller.
As my co-host, John Sheeran, demonstrates in this visualization of a discussion by The Athletic’s Robert Mays and Nate Tice, Burrow’s timing and quick reads turn situations that would result in short gains or sacks for lesser quarterbacks, like Baker Mayfield (their example, not mine), into positive plays:
some visuals i made from their breakdown. this is what gets baked into the pff grades, the inferior talent doesn't diminish burrow's craft.— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) December 28, 2021
his brain breaks schemes. https://t.co/zbnpj0Nqrt pic.twitter.com/o9l7xt7TfQ
Ultimately, PFF grades are put together after all plays are graded positively and negatively, with decision-making being a factor as well for quarterbacks. And as anyone who watches Burrow knows, his mental processing is elite, which leads to a surplus of positive outcomes for the Bengals’ offense.
Even in some of his “bad” outings when Burrow’s box score production isn’t spectacular, his decision-making has rarely ever been the culprit. He either takes what the defense gives him or makes them pay. That will get you graded highly.
Further, Burrow has impeccable touch on his throws. His passes are exceedingly “catchable,” as the quarterback has an excellent feel for how and when each receiver will be prepared to make a play on the ball. Plus, he gives his skill position guys great opportunities to make critical plays with his “big time throws.”
leaders in accuracy rate over expected this season (per @PFF):— Tej Seth (@tejfbanalytics) December 28, 2021
1. joe burrow, +7.1%
2. mac jones, +4.3%
3. kyler murray, +4.1%
4. tua tagovailoa, +3.7%
5. teddy bridgewater, +3.4%
Joe Burrow's last 5 games, per PFF stats:— Jake Liscow (@JakeLiscow) December 27, 2021
1,520 yards (1st)
72.9 comp% (1st)
82.7 adj comp% (1st)
9.2 YPA (1st)
15 big time throws, 8.5% big time throw % (1st)
3 turnover worthy plays, 1.4% (3rd)
You might say that Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins were drafted in the first two rounds for a reason: they are very talented young players. And, as we haven’t seen them play with other top-notch quarterbacks, it might be difficult to attribute their rapid rise to Burrow.
But what about C.J. Uzomah? How is he having a career year at age 28 following a torn Achilles? Not only that, but he now has to compete for targets with a more talented group of receivers than he ever did before.
The answer is that Burrow elevates his playmakers and helps them realize their potential. That, in a nutshell, is why he is more valuable than traditional stats would indicate.
That and the fact that he’s consistently putting up points despite playing behind a bottom-five offensive line.
It’s a lot better than burrows https://t.co/ZHNYF4f2zp— beredseered (@beredseered2) December 28, 2021
We talk about Burrow’s ascendency and ability to manipulate defenses in our preview of the Bengals’ Week 17 showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs:
You can also listen on iTunes or using the player below: