Joe Burrow had his rookie season shortened due to an ACL injury, but he looks like he is on schedule to be starting for the Bengals Week 1 in 2021.
What can the Cincinnati Bengals expect in Year 2, though?
Kevin Cole and Pro Football Focus tried to give a reasonable expectation of where Burrow should finish among other quarterbacks based on how his small sample size played out in 2020.
Burrow ranked 11th based on PFF grade, 16th in EPA and 13th overall in the Bayesian Rankings, which combines the two. PFF’s grade is based on them tracking each of Burrow’s throws and designed runs. The definition of EPA is a little more involved.
Expected Points Added (EPA) – The difference between the Expected Points (EP) at the start of a play and the EP at the end of they play. EPA is the measure of a play’s impact on the score of the game. An individual player’s EPA is the sum of the EPA of the plays in which that player was directly involved. Being directly involved is defined as an offensive player who ran, threw, or kicked the ball, was targeted by a pass, or flagged for a penalty.
To put it simply, Burrow is already sitting pretty high as far as quarterback ranking go based on his small sample size. These ranking are based on all of a quarterbacks’ seasons, so Burrow coming in this high already is quite impressive. For context, Justin Herbert finished with a total rank of seven and Tua Tagovailoa had a total rank of 26th. It will be easy for these quarterbacks to move up or down based on their 2021 seasons considering most other quarterbacks have well over 1,000 snaps while Herbert was the only rookie with over 500.
There is plenty of reasons to expect a fairly big 2021 from Burrow, though. He has a full offseason to establish timing with his receivers, which now include Ja’Marr Chase who was his favorite receiver from LSU in 2019. The offensive lineman not have gotten every big name offensive lineman available this offseason, but the team did improve several spots on the offensive line that were obvious issues. They also brought back Frank Pollack to coach the offensive line.
It’ll be interesting to see where Burrow falls in these rankings at the end of next season if this season pans out like fans hope it will. These rankings only become more accurate based on larger sample sizes, and Patrick Mahomes has given Burrow quite the lead to chase down for that No. 1 spot.