Expectations for Joe Burrow’s 2021 Campaign: Is the Sky Really the Limit?

Expectations for Joe Burrow’s 2021 Campaign: Is the Sky Really the Limit?

Barry DeVoe
1 year ago
2 min read
Expectations for Joe Burrow’s 2021 Campaign: Is the Sky Really the Limit?

If not for the season from the Chargers Justin Herbert, NFL fans would look at Joe Burrow’s rookie season as quite good. Burrow’s average of 268.8 yards passing per game would have been good for 4,300 yards over a 16-game season, and that would have been the third-best all-time for a rookie.

Andrew Luck has the record with 4,374 yards, followed by Herbert’s 4,336.

Burrow’s run at the record and at Herbert for Rookie of the Year was derailed by an injured knee, which is said to be healing on schedule for him to start Week 1. And looking ahead to the growth of Burrow for his second season under center, yes, the sky really is the limit.

Weapons, Weapons, Weapons

What is required for a young quarterback to take that next step is the presence of great playmakers around him. Buffalo signed Stephon Diggs in the 2020 offseason, and quarterback Josh Allen was suddenly in the MVP conversation. That is not a coincidence.

In Cincinnati, the Bengals already had a solid collection of young targets, with Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins at wide receiver. For 2021 they added the best rookie wide receiver in the draft in Ja’Marr Chase, a teammate of Burrow’s at LSU, and this team now has some of the best talents on the outside of anyone in football.

All signs point to an offense that is ready to compete with the very best defenses in the NFL.

Improved Offensive Line

Not all projections were positive. Had Burrow played a full 16 games last season, he was on pace to be sacked 51 times. That’s a far cry from the all-time record of 76 sacks taken by David Carr, but it would have been more than the 2020 leader, Carson Wentz, who was sacked 50 times. And that is the cautionary tale for the Bengals, as a once MVP-caliber career for Wentz was derailed by injuries.

We should not see the same problems on the offensive line in 2021, however. Frank Pollack, who coached some of the best offensive lines in Dallas, is the new O-line coach in Cincinnati. Former Pro Bowler Riley Reiff is the new right tackle. And three new offensive linemen were taken in the 2021 draft, including second-round pick Jackson Carman who is the likely starter at right guard.

PFF analysts list the Bengals as the fourth most improved offensive line this offseason, which will serve Burrow well in keeping him upright and hitting his targets downfield.

Burrow Has the Tools

The biggest reason the ceiling is so high for Burrow is the same reason he was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in 2020. He processes what he sees with the speed of a veteran. He can create plays on his own. His insane accuracy is underscored by a college-adjusted completion percentage of 82.5.

Burrow is still the star he was projected to be when he became the franchise quarterback in Cincinnati, and that will become clear as this season unfolds.

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