Once Joe Burrow officially completes his comeback this September, the conversation surrounding the 24-year-old quarterback will transition to how much better he can be in his second season.
With an improved offensive line and a loaded receiving corps, optimism for the Bengals and their quarterback is flying off the shelves in Cincinnati and around NFL media. Pro Football Focus analyst Seth Galina even placed Burrow atop his list of 15 breakout candidates for the upcoming season.
As a rookie, Burrow showed an impressive aptitude for managing the game under center. The game rarely looked too big for him to handle, and many of the same qualities he exhibited at LSU translated seamlessly. Throwing deep, for whatever reason, was not one of those qualities.
Galina mentioned that Burrow ranked 34th in PFF’s deep passing grade despite his top-10 grade throwing 20 yards or fewer, but he isn’t too worried about it carrying over in Burrow’s second year.
There are arm strength concerns, but it felt like Burrow just had a run of bad luck. And those deep-ball issues, which were not all his fault, could either be addressed or naturally regress to the mean. If Burrow keeps up his accuracy and decision-making under 20 yards and the rest of his game irons out, he could be a strong contender for a Pro Bowl spot in 2021.
Breaking into the Pro Bowl as an AFC quarterback is easier said than done, but Burrow’s potential gives him a decent chance. He has three receivers at his disposal who could all eclipse the 1,000-yard mark this year along with enough talent at running back and tight end to complement the talented wideouts on the roster.
The consensus seems to be that Burrow’s strengths are attributes that carry over from year-to-year, while his weaknesses are more of the opposite. He doesn’t have to become a completely different passer to make a noticeable jump, and that’s great news for Cincinnati.