Just one year ago Joe Burrow was the next big thing in the NFL.
The Cincinnati Bengals took him with the No. 1 overall pick and everyone was excited to see if he could continue his LSU magic in the NFL.
Burrow made 10 starts before suffering a major knee injury that knocked him out for the remainder of the season.
The second-year quarterback has not seen any preseason action so far in 2021 and is still in the early range of his recovery timetable.
But this weekend will finally give Bengals fans a glimpse of Burrow in game action.
Zac Taylor: Joe Burrow will play a limited number of snaps in the final preseason game this Sunday. pic.twitter.com/HGMo6eg6bm
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) August 25, 2021
For his sake, let’s hope he is only handing the ball off or throwing very quick passes.
A Nightmare Debut
Burrow was looking solid last year before the injury as he finished with 2,688 yards and 13 touchdowns in 10 games.
The problem was the lack of any protection from his offensive line.
He took 32 sacks in 10 games, which is just abysmal.
Yes, rookie quarterbacks still have to adjust to the speed of the NFL game and may take more sacks than veterans.
But 32 in 10 games is just embarrassing for the line.
Hence the knee injury and the situation he has been in since.
Burrow is now back on a Bengals team still not projected to do much in 2021 whether he is the full-time starter or not.
Getting some live reps in the preseason is in fact good, however, head coach Zac Taylor must remain careful in his play-calling.
A Necessary Step
Burrow is the franchise quarterback so the team can’t protect him forever.
Joe Burrow: “It’s important to get as close as you can to having a game like feel.” pic.twitter.com/IHIrzwoQed
— Charlie Goldsmith (@CharlieG__) August 25, 2021
He needs to get on the field at some point and this preseason game will be a nice way to ease back in, as opposed to a meaningful regular season game.
Burrow can see how the knee feels and also just get some rhythm and timing back in a game setting.
Going up against a defense other than Cincinnati’s means everyone won’t be treating him like his bones are made of glass.
He has to be more aware of his surroundings and get the ball out quick to avoid any hits.
Taylor took over as head coach before the 2019 season and the team has proceeded to go 6-25-1 in that span.
At some point, he will lose the benefit of the doubt and the front office will want to bring in someone to start winning with Burrow under center.
But easing the quarterback into action again could buy Taylor some time at least until 2022.
Nothing about this is exciting for Bengals fans in the present, but a healthy Burrow is in fact good news for the future.