Well, we jinxed it!
All the talk about Joe Burrow finally having a normal camp and maybe even making his first preseason game appearance drove off the Bengals practice field on a golf cart last week, leaving the Bengals offense without their leader for “several weeks.”
In the immortal words of another great quarterback, Shane Falco, in The Replacements, “Pain heels. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever.”
All is not lost. Burrow will be back, and the goal remains the same: Win the whole thing.
- Joe Burrow
- Jake Browning
- Trevor Siemian
- Reid Sinnett
- Brandon Allen
I’m usually the last person to get excited about a backup quarterback, but right now, the importance is pretty obvious.
We don’t know exactly when Joe Burrow will be back, but we know this offense has a plethora of weapons and an improved offensive line.
But who can be the trigger-man to keep this offense firing?
In Trevor Siemian, they have a backup quarterback who has quality starting experience in the NFL.
Although he didn’t throw a pass during his rookie season with the Broncos, he still won a Super Bowl ring.
Peyton Manning retired after that game, and Siemian won the starting job. In 2016, he started 14 games, winning eight, and threw for 3,401 yards with 18 touchdowns vs. 10 interceptions. That year, he was invited to the Pro Bowl as an alternate.
The following season, head coach Gary Kubiak was replaced by Vance Joseph. (Future Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, then an offensive assistant with the Broncos, left at the same time.)
At that point, the quarterback situation got murky.
Though he lost some starts to Brock Osweiler, Paxton Lynch, and a shoulder injury, Siemian compiled a 5-5 record in a season in which Denver won only five games. Not great, but certainly better than the other guys.
That’s where Siemian’s career trail goes cold. He has bounced around, spending a season each with the Vikings, Jets, Titans, Saints, and Bears. He never saw the field for the Vikings or Titans and failed to win a game as a starter with the other three clubs.
A newcomer to Cincinnati, Siemian will get a lot more reps in camp with Burrow’s absence. The silver lining in this is that he, along with the other quarterbacks, will get a better feel for the offense and offensive personnel. If they must be called on in the regular season, they will be ready.
So who else is there?
Jake Browning was once a highly hyped-up draft prospect, but he never took the big step forward that his coaches at the University of Washington were hoping for. He ended up going undrafted in 2019. He signed as a UDFA with the Vikings (missing Siemian by a year) and spent two seasons with the Vikings before coming to Cincinnati in 2021. He has been on the Bengals practice squad for the last two seasons.
Even before the Burrow injury, there was an indication that Browning may have a real shot at the backup job. The fact that the Bengals activated him last season to prevent him from being swiped off their practice squad by another team adds validity to that claim.
Browning has talent, and with this type of offensive firepower around him, he could lead the team to some wins over the short term.
Burrow’s injury led the Bengals to bring in another quarterback. Who you ask?
He used to be an Eagle. No, not Carson Wentz.
He used to be a Dolphin. No, not Teddy Bridgewater.
His name is Reid Sinnett, and he also used to be a Buccaneer and a Brahma, whatever that is.
Although Zac Taylor has been reluctant to set a timetable for Burrow’s return, the fact that they didn’t sign a bigger name gives you a pretty good idea of the prognosis. Both Siemian and Browning are likely to be with the team all season. Sinnett is here to prevent their arms from falling off before the end of August.
Nothing has ever come easy for this Bengals team, so why should that change now?
It would be fantastic to have Burrow throughout camp, working with new tight end Irv Smith and rookie receivers Charlie Jones and Andre Iosivas, among others, but that was not meant to be.
Still, he’s Joe Burrow. He’ll be ready to go when his calf has healed.
With any luck, Siemian will have a repeat of his rookie season, where he did nothing but take a knee and earned a Super Bowl ring.
As Rod Tidell told his agent, Jerry McGuire in the film of the same name, “Show me the money.”
The Bengals are going to pay Joe Burrow and lock him up for the long term. He is an incredible competitor and one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Perhaps just as important is that he has bought in completely to Zac Taylor and this coaching staff.
Perhaps once the Browns/Blackburns back up the Brinks truck up to his house, Joe will decide to rent a cabin out in the middle of nowhere in the offseason. Just like Tom Brady used to do, he can invite his favorite pass catchers out to throw the rock around and build a rapport away from distractions.
I know one thing, this year’s offensive line’s Christmas gifts are going to be lit!