The Cincinnati Bengals have done a great job over the last few seasons in constructing a roster loaded with talent. From a loaded wide receiver room to a linebacker group that has grown to one of the best in the NFL before our eyes, the front office has many more hits than misses over the last half a decade.
One position, however, they have failed to address, and they’ve failed miserably.
The Bengals have failed at backup quarterback. Joe Burrow has been playing hurt this year for a multitude of reasons. For one, he is a competitor who wants to be there for his team and is coming off of signing a record-breaking contract.
Another reason is that the playoff hopes of the Bengals rest squarely on his shoulders. Part of the reason for that is because the Bengals have put virtually no NFL experience behind him in the form of a backup. Jake Browning won the backup job in training camp, but it is clear the coaching staff doesn’t trust him to take real NFL snaps.
If they did, you’d have to think the coaches would have given more thought to resting Burrow to begin the season, or at least after Week 2 when Burrow tweaked the calf against the Baltimore Ravens. In the NFL, the drop-off from the starting quarterback to the backup will always be noticeable, but it would appear the Bengals think they stand no chance with theirs.
The team wasn’t ever likely to invest in an $8 million backup like Jacoby Brissett, but the only veteran they invited to camp to compete was Trevor Siemian, whose most extensive NFL snaps came in 2016.
And it’s now painfully obvious that having the backup QBs they had in training camp helped aid the Bengals’ offensive struggles. A constant theme in camp was how poorly Siemian and Browning played, making it hard for the rest of the offense to gel and find any rhythm while Burrow was out.
The reality is that regardless of how Burrow’s calf is, he will be on the field as long as he is physically able to. To the credit of the coaching staff, he does give them the best chance to win, but that is because they have dropped the ball on putting anyone behind him that can keep the team afloat if he were to have to rest.