In this video, we take a look at Joe Burrow in Week 7 of the 2020 season. This was Round 2 against the Cleveland Browns.
Burrow had an excellent day statistically, completing 35 of 47 pass attempts for 406 yards and three touchdowns.
Since this was his second look at the Browns, we are going to look at it through the lens of the game plan.
0:40 - Burrow Creates Under Pressure
One of Burrow’s greatest strengths is his ability to create, and as you can see on this play, he was able to do that a few times in this game.
He steps in front of the offensive tackle’s block, slips out of the pocket to avoid the rush, keeps his eyes downfield and delivers a strike to Tyler Boyd for 16 yards.
1:03 - Myles Garrett Run Down
Unfortunately, the Browns have a freak defender in Myles Garrett who was able to run him down on a few of these plays. In this clip, he even causes a fumble as Burrow tries to get rid of the ball.
Garrett isn’t the only Browns pass rusher who can cause problems for the Cincinnati Bengals. So, the Bengals needed a plan for it.
1:26 - Ball out fast to Tee Higgins
Fortunately, there is something else that Burrow is renowned for: getting the ball out fast.
Here he gets the ball out to Tee Higgins quickly for a first down.
1:34 - Checking the Play
The blitz got them a couple of times, but Burrow did a good job of recognizing it pre-snap and changing the play.
Here he sees the blitz coming and knows that the defense is not in a position to cover tight end Drew Sample in the flat.
He calls an audible, gets the ball into Sample’s hands quickly, and picks up another first down in the process.
1:51 - Checking the Protection
Here is another audible. This time, instead of getting the ball in Sample’s hands to avoid the blitz, Burrow shifts Sample into the backfield as another blocker.
Knowing he has A.J. Green in a one-on-one situation with a defender playing inside leverage, Burrow throws the ball to the back shoulder.
This results in a 17-yard gain on 3rd and 5.
Another good check and a nice ball from Burrow.
2:14 - Screen
They also combated the pass rush by calling a number of creative screens.
On this play, they fake a jet sweep to the right and throw a screen back to Giovani Bernard on the left.
Left guard Michael Jordan makes the key block that springs Bernard for a 25-yard gain.
2:43 - Pulling up the Safety
Of course, slowing the pass rush means nothing if you can’t get guys open.
The Bengals had a good game plan for this and Burrow executed it well.
In this clip, Boyd runs a deep in-cutting route, that draws up the deep middle safety.
This puts Green in a one-on-one situation behind the safety as he runs the post.
The protection was lacking, and it wasn’t a great route. So, unfortunately, Burrow wasn’t able to connect.
3:08 - Pick Route
They also ran a number of pick routes to get receivers open against the Browns’ man coverage.
Here they lineup with Sample at tight end and Mason Schreck as the h-back beside him.
Schreck’s inside release creates a pick that allows Sample to get open on the corner route into the end zone.
Burrow throws a good ball, but Sample isn’t able to haul it in.
3:34 - Empty Pick
When the Bengals came out empty in this game, they were generally targeting the curl area of the Browns zone coverage, but this time the defense came out in man, so Burrow changed the play.
At first, this looks like a standard pick play with the outside receiver releasing inside and the inside receiver releasing to the flat, but the defense has seen that before and the defender is running hard to the sideline.
This time Boyd cuts back to the inside
Burrow’s pass is right on time and the connection leads to a 15-yard gain.
3:57 - Tight window
Of course, the Bengals had answers in zone coverage as well.
Boyd does a great job of finding the soft spot deep between the linebackers on this clip and Burrow zings it in for the touchdown.
Although they accounted for the Browns’ high-level pass rush, they still needed more time to let some of the deeper routes develop. As a result, although the pass game was excellent, they left explosive play opportunities on the field.
Throughout the day, Burrow did a great job of making checks in response to the blitz or coverage as well as getting rid of the ball quickly. He also showed off his incredible accuracy on medium-range passes.
It was evident in this game that he was starting to build rapport with his wide receivers.
This was an impressive outing for Burrow and the Bengals offense. Unfortunately, the 34 points they put on the scoreboard were just not enough to get the win.