The Cincinnati Bengals had one heck of a season last year. They went from being expected to be one of the worst teams to playing in a Super Bowl. That kind of thing rarely ever happens, and there are few examples of it in NFL history.
It is safe to say that the season can be attributed to multiple facets of the team, including a defense that was one of the best in the playoffs. However, it is hard to look past how special Joe Burrow was during a season where he was sacked 70 total times and hit even more.
That performance has Colin Cowherd singing the Cincinnati single caller’s praises on his show The Herd.
“You know you’re really great when you go into a losing culture and Year 2, you’re in the Super Bowl,” Cowherd stated. “Does everybody understand? Like as good as Kyler Murray is, he got them into the playoffs, and then that’s it. You know how good you have to be to go into a place that doesn’t win, and win immediately? It’s very Andrew Luck…what Joe Burrow did last year, it’s without a lot of precedent. There are not a lot of examples of what Joe Burrow did last year.”
That 2019 season when more Bengals fans were watching Burrow’s run with LSU than actual Bengals games gave us all a glimpse into the future. We all knew Cincinnati was going to end up picking first, and Burrow looked like the guy. He went on to dominate the the College Football Playoffs against some really good teams. He did that on the biggest stage he could play on.
That was quite different from what the Bengals had been producing during primetime football games. It was often a struggle for the Marvin Lewis era Bengals to go out and perform on a big stage, which perpetuated this idea of a losing culture in Cincinnati to a national audience. Then there were the Wild Card losses that piled up, which turned into a mountainous obstacle that left fans wondering if this team was good enough even when they were successful. The other big issue was performances against contenders. It wasn’t uncommon for a Bengals team headed to the playoffs to be run out of a stadium by a team like the Kansas Chiefs or Drew Brees led New Orleans Saints, which again promoted the idea of this team just not being a serious contender.
In Burrow’s first full season of action while recovering from a pretty horrific knee injury, he put all of those notions to bed. This team looked good. Their biggest win was undoubtedly the first comeback against the Chiefs. This sent a message that this team was ready to not only get a playoff win but also make a run.
Burrow’s level of poise and presence on the field is something that just can’t be measured. It is often why fans are quick to rush to quarterbacks like Justin Herbert, Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes over Burrow. Nothing against those quarterbacks, as they are some of the best young athletes this sport has to offer, but Burrow belongs in that level.
Cowherd mentions Kyler Murray and you can toss in talented quarterbacks like Herbert, Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson, none of these guys have done something like Burrow has done. Many only have a single playoff win at most. It is a team sport, but it is undeniable that Burrow was able to step up in key situations on their playoff run despite playing with one arm tied behind his back due to the issues along the offensive line.
We all know how special Burrow is in Cincinnati, but it is about time the rest of the league catches on.