In the Cincinnati Bengals 27-24 win over Minnesota Sunday, one complaint fans have had was seemingly addressed.
After watching Joe Burrow go down with a gruesome knee injury last season, many wondered why the then rookie quarterback was dropping back so much behind an offensive line that could never seem to figure it out.
In Week 1 of the 2021 season, we saw Burrow throwing the ball a considerable amount less than we’ve grown to expect.
With it being his first game back from injury, that is understandable. The plan was clear: Ease him back in to the speed and chaos of NFL games.
Was that Zac Taylor being conservative in the long awaited return, or is this something we can expect to see for the foreseeable future?
A look at the offensive play-calling in the fourth quarter and overtime may suggest Burrow is on a pitch count. There was a good amount of chatter about the lack of passing later in the game.
Furthermore, the speculation has grown that Taylor may be taking a conservative approach, at least early on in the season.
Limiting Burrow’s drop backs isn’t the worst idea in the world, especially if current NFL rushing leader Joe Mixon can continue to deliver on the ground. In the pass-happy NFL of today, a balanced attack is still going to win you football games.
These are the stat lines you need for this #Bengals team to succeed:— Drew Garrison (@Drew_LRT) September 12, 2021
Burrow: 20-27, 261 yds, 2 TD, 0 INT
Mixon: 29 carries, 127 yards, 1 TD.
You don’t have to throw 40 times a game.
In his 10-game rookie season, Burrow averaged 40.4 passing attempts per game, per Pro Football Reference.
Has Zac Taylor evolved as a play-caller? Did he learn from his mistakes from last season? Or does a healthy Mixon further add to a mix of both being addressed?
As the season progresses, it will be interesting to see how the play-calling continues to unfold. In a game where the Bengals are trailing, will Taylor open the passing game up, or continue to keep the ball on the ground? The first instance of that happening will be telling.
For now, let’s just hope the team continues to jump out to early leads and can ride No. 28 to the finish line. Keeping the face of the franchise out of harm’s way when he doesn’t have to be in it will bode well for this season and the seasons to come.
The question is whether or not we see shots downfield when the team needs to close a gap on the scoreboard.