Today, we are going to look at the performance of quarterback Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ offense in Week 8 against the Tennessee Titans. Burrow was 26 of 37 for 249 yards and 2 touchdowns on the day, but that stat line doesn’t really do justice to his performance.
Burrow and his receivers did some special things in this game. Good scheme and excellent route-running allowed his receivers to get open quickly.
1:03 - Creating a Window
When tight end Drew Sample runs to the flat, the corner gains width. This opens up a window for Burrow to quickly deliver the ball to receiver Tee Higgins for the first down.
1:16 - Sprint Out Pass
The Bengals continued to use picks to get receivers open in man coverage. Here the linebacker can’t make his way around Mike Thomas fast enough to get to running back Giovani Bernard. The result is six points.
This was excellent execution of the sprint out pass by Burrow, who delivers the ball right on time.
1:41 - Boyd Pick Play
Wide receiver Tyler Boyd does a great job of setting up the pick here. He initially works to the outside before cutting back inside. But this play requires precise execution. Burrow needs to watch out for the hole dropper in Cover 1. This time he was able to get the ball off in time and get the completion, though Boyd took a big hit. If Burrow was a bit later or the defender got there a bit earlier, it could have been going the other way.
On that play, the defender was showing blitz and Burrow may not have seen him dropped off. He may have thought the defense had no help short and inside.
2:31 - Close Call
But later in the game, it was much more obvious that they were in Cover 1. Here, Burrow’s eyes are locked on the right side, and the linebacker is able to easily read him and jump the route. If not for a penalty, this play could have put the Titans back in the game.
2:47 - Outside Shoulder
Burrow does an excellent job of placing his passes where only his receiver can make the play. In this clip, there is a hole dropper and another defender is playing over top of Boyd with inside leverage, so Burrow puts the ball on his outside shoulder.
Just beautiful ball placement.
3:10 - Boot
The very next play was 3rd and 1. The defense was closing in on the boot, so Burrow had to get rid of ball quickly to keep the chains moving. Unfortunately, the coverage was pretty tight on the front side and he didn’t see the backside crosser.
Somehow, Burrow is able to rifle the ball into the gut of running back Cethan Carter at the 1st down marker. Carter, with his larger frame, was essentially boxing out the defender, so this placement made the throw impossible for the defense to stop.
First down, Bengals.
3:44 - Coaching Adjustment
On the next drive, they went back the boot, but this time they ran it out of shotgun, allowing Burrow to keep his eyes downfield and see the crosser.
Simply an excellent in-game coaching adjustment.
3:59 - Making things happen
In this game, Burrow showcased his ability to create, but perhaps more importantly, his connection with his receivers was on full display. This play is a perfect example. Burrow never leaves the pocket, but he moves away from the pressure to buy time. The offensive line holds their blocks for quite a while and Burrow is able to find Higgins, who has come off of his initial route and worked to get into Burrow’s line of sight.
The result is 22 yards, converting 4th and 5.
4:20 - Crazy Play No. 1
Another example of Burrow’s growing chemistry with his receivers occurred earlier in the game, when Burrow faced pressure up the middle and took off running to the right. Higgins was running a deep comeback on the sideline, but seeing Burrow in trouble, he took his route vertical and gets behind the defender. Burrow throws an excellent pass on the run, putting it high on the sideline where Higgins can go up and make a play.
The result is a gain of 24 yards on 3rd and 5.
4:52 - Crazy Play No. 2
On any other day, Higgins’ 24-yard reception would have been the most ridiculous catch of the game, but Boyd would not be outdone by the rookie Higgins. Here Burrow steps up in the pocket to avoid the rush. Like we saw in an earlier clip, Boyd is streaking up the middle of the field and Burrow puts the ball on his outside shoulder, away from the defense. But this time the defense is all over him. Boyd flips his head around just in time to make the catch.
How does he even see it?
It looks like a glitch in a video game, but Boyd’s hands and processing speed are simply elite. This was a great connection between Boyd and Burrow and shows that they have built a rapport that will lead to big things in Cincinnati.
The 18-yard connection on 3rd and 9 set up Bernard’s touchdown reception 2 plays later.
This was a big win for the Bengals and not just because of the box score. Burrow shined and demonstrated superb communication with his receivers, who put themselves in position to make big plays.
What stood out most was his connection with both Higgins and Boyd. That trio shows that it’s building something special in Week 8 of 2020. Auden Tate also had a big day against the Titans, leading the team in receptions and making a clutch sideline catch on 3rd Down that sealed the game.
In 2021, these four should look even more comfortable playing alongside Burrow. Even better, they’ll be joined by Ja’Marr Chase, a game-breaking play maker who already has excellent rapport with the Bengals QB.
The creative play calling and solid execution of the offense in this game make me very excited for the future in Cincinnati.