“Promise” is a funny word when it comes to the National Football League.
In 2019, Cincinnati Bengals guard Michael Jordan showed “promise” when he started nine games at left guard. Yet he finished as one of the lowest-graded guards in football with an overall grade of 43.1, according to Pro Football Focus.
A year later, Jordan continued to struggle, but managed to show improvement. He started 10 games in 2020, was charged with just one penalty and only allowed three sacks over 731 offensive snaps played. His overall grade of 55.7 was still not great, but trending up.
Yet, all anyone remembers about Cincinnati’s fourth-round selection from the 2019 NFL Draft is what happened on November 22 against the Washington Football Team in the Bengals’ 10th game of the season.
With just over 12 minutes left in the third quarter, Cincinnati’s rookie sensation Joe Burrow dropped back to pass on third-and-2 from at the Bengals’ 10-yard-line.
Jordan was bull-rushed and driven back into Burrow, who suffered a gruesome left knee injury when a Washington defender fell into his leg. Burrow was later diagnosed with a torn ACL, a torn MCL, and other structural damage.
Jordan was replaced the following week against the Giants, and logged only one more start the rest of the season. He started against the Dolphins in Week 13, but was quickly replaced by Xavier Su’a Filo, who was making his first appearance since breaking his ankle in the season opener.
Jordan was inactive against Dallas in Week 14 and was an afterthought the remainder of the season.
Whether or not Jordan can re-discover the promise that he showed at the end of 2019, and which placed him in the starting lineup throughout much of 2020, is a question that remains to be seen. But one thing is certain. He will not get too many more chances to prove that he can convert promise into reality.
Frank Pollack, the Bengals’ new offensive line coach, made it clear that his priority lies in protecting Burrow, and anything short of that is unacceptable.
“You’ve got to protect your quarterback,” Pollack said. “That’s what everyone is trying to always constantly get better at and striving.”