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Why Joe Burrow is a “force multiplier”

Bengals great Solomon Wilcots is high on the third-year franchise QB.

AFC Championship - Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

The thing about Joe Burrow is, it’s not just about his production as a passer. He is so much more than that. And I don’t simply mean that he’s a leader who encourages others with his words or work ethic.

His play and demeanor are inspirational. They have elevated the entire franchise and made Cincinnati a desirable destination for players. But don’t take it from me.

We recently had the opportunity to interview Bengals great Solomon Wilcots, and he characterized Burrow as a “servant leader” who puts others first before adding:

He’s created this atmosphere, this culture, this environment, and everybody wants to be a part of it. All the guys who sign up in free agency, when I talk to ‘em, they say they’re here for number nine. “Why’d you want to come to Cincinnati?” “Oh, Joe Burrow’s here.”

You can watch the interview below:

Even those outside of the organization can perceive the change. Wilcots pointed to the fact that Peter King recently placed Burrow twelfth overall on his list of the most influential people, not just players, in the NFL. This is a list that also includes NFL and media execs and owners. And Burrow is one of the players near the top. “He turned an irrelevant franchise relevant in 25 months,” King wrote.

So how does Burrow do it? How does he elevate an entire franchise? It’s not just by throwing a football well. Rather, and this may be hard to grasp, Burrow inspires the defense and special teams as well. Here’s what Wilcots had to say:

Very good, elite quarterbacks—and Joe Burrow is that—are what we call a “force multiplier.” Their ability to produce at a high level, plus the energy and confidence that they breed, it impacts everyone from Evan McPherson, whether you’re the kicker, whether you’re Kevin Huber, the punter, whether you’re the offense. And it does impact the defense.

But how is it possible that a quarterback can improve the play of players when he’s not even on the field? Wilcots explained:

Think about this. The defense knows, that, for instance, if you’re Jessie Bates, and you intercept the very first pass of a playoff game against Ryan Tannehill, the number one seed in the AFC, on the road, hostile environment in Nashville, you know that Joe Burrow is going to turn that into points. You know that he’s going to make good of your efforts. And it allows you to play with higher energy, because you know that whatever little good you do, it’s going to be magnified by that force multiplier to end up becoming a more decisive game-winning moment. And that’s the same thing that happened in the AFC Championship game against Kansas City [in overtime].

In short, knowing that your great play will actually mean something provides added motivation and sometimes even adrenaline. It helps players get into a better flow, where they are relaxed and using their athleticism and instincts to make plays instead of overthinking or confronting self doubt. I would add that knowing you have a QB who can dig you out of a deficit (like Burrow and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady) might also inspire defenders to go for the big plays, as they are not fearful of losing the game on account of a single play that results in a big gain or a score. And, as we all saw, the Bengals defense came through with timely play time and time again in the postseason.

Joe Burrow

Height: 6-3

Weight: 229

Age: 25

College: LSU

Hometown: Athens, OH

Experience: three years

Cap Status

He is in the third year of a rookie contract that will pay him $3.9 million in base salary this year.


Burrow has generally been on about as impressive of an upwards trajectory that we’ve ever seen. He had a record-breaking, championship year his final season at LSU in 2019-20. He was then drafted by the Bengals and showed flashes of brilliance before suffering a horrific knee injury against Washington in Week 11 of his rookie year. Then, last year, he takes a team that had won six total games the previous two seasons to the Super Bowl. In a city, mind you, that was overwhelmed with emotion just by winning a playoff game for the first time in thirty-one years.

Success actually seems to be the default with Burrow. A last-minute loss in the Super Bowl is, like the knee injury, a detour, because Burrow is success. While outsiders think Cincinnati’s postseason run was a fluke, for those who have watched Burrow closely, the fluke was not finishing the job, something the 25-year-old is always set on doing. And, while this may be hopeful optimism from a fan—and we fans have adopted some of Burrow’s tremendous confidence—all signs point to the job getting done sooner or later. Multiple times, at that.

2022 Outlook

The Bengals QB is set to have his best statistical season yet. He is a cerebral player (while also somehow being extremely instinctive), which means that he is going to continue to limit his mistakes until they are almost non existent. He will be sacked less, not just because the team signed Alex Cappa, Ted Karras, and La’el Collins, but because he will learn to calculate in his head the precise amount of time he has to extend plays. Burrow will throw fewer interceptions as well. He is already a very accurate passer. But the combination of inexperience and an o-line that couldn’t really slow down pass rushers resulted in him making some rash decisions when the offense wasn’t in a flow against the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns. That will change.

I expect Burrow, if healthy, to top 40 touchdown passes and to throw fewer than 15 interceptions. He should easily top 4,500 yards passing and approach 5,000 yards. Team success, of course, is a different matter entirely. The Bengals have the talent to get back to the Super Bowl. But postseason games can oftentimes go either way, so there’s no guarantee a team will make it back. Nonetheless, Burrow and the Bengals will play like contenders and be in every game, including primetime contests and the playoffs. And that is a rather wonderful source of relief for this fanbase.

Roster Odds

C’mon. Seriously? 100%.

Listen to our interview with Solomon Wilcots on iTunes or use the player below: