Joe Burrow

Diagnosing Bengals need for backup quarterback

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CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 17: Quarterback Joe Burrow #9 passes to wide receiver Tyler Boyd #83 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 17, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Bengals 35-30. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 17: Quarterback Joe Burrow #9 passes to wide receiver Tyler Boyd #83 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 17, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Bengals 35-30. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Joe Burrow gives the Bengals a franchise quarterback for the foreseeable future. The best NFL teams have a backup capable of keeping a team competitive when their star goes down. We saw what happened to the Cincinnati offense without Burrow in the last 6.5 games of the 2020 season when Burrow tore his ACL.

With Ryan Finley at QB, the Bengals’ offense lost the ability to throw the ball downfield. Brandon Allen was better than Finley but lacked the consistency the Bengals needed without Burrow. According to Pro Football Focus, the Bengals QB situation they are “still evaluating-in limbo” their depth at the position.

How well Burrow returns from his torn ACL will be critical in his development at QB and for the Cincinnati offense in the 2021 season. The backup QBs on the Bengals were not evaluated by PFF. Burrow averaged 6.7 yards per attempt in 2020, Allen 6.5, but Finley averaged just 5.1 YPA. Cincinnati averaged 5.93 YPA as a team.

With Andy Dalton and Finley at QB in 2019, the Bengals averaged 5.92 YPC. Burrow clearly upgraded the Bengals’ ability to get the ball downfield. The Bengals are expected to add to their young corps of wide receivers led by Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. Cincinnati needs another playmaker at WR.

"STILL EVALUATING — IN LIMBOCINCINNATI BENGALSWe have to place Cincinnati here just because it’s still very early in Joe Burrow’s NFL career. But all signs are pointing to the 2020 No. 1 overall pick developing into the top-10 quarterback we were expecting.Despite missing nearly the entire second half of his rookie campaign following a gruesome knee injury in Week 11, Burrow still finished as the 16th-most valuable quarterback in the NFL. His deep ball wasn’t as finely tuned as in his historic 2019 season at LSU, but Burrow was money on just about every other throw.In fact, he recorded the sixth-best passing grade in the NFL this year when throwing 19 yards or fewer downfield. With a better offensive line that isn’t routinely losing reps quickly after the snap, as well as a true deep threat like Ja’Marr Chase, expect Burrow’s deep ball to come to back life in 2021.Burrow’s accuracy was also on full display in his rookie campaign. He had the lowest rate of passes to result in a quarterback-fault incompletion (4%) this season from a clean pocket. That’s two percentage points higher than any other NFL quarterback in 2020."

Keeping the ability for Burrow to be accurate requires an upgrade to the Bengals offensive line. The OL was the biggest area of weakness for Cincinnati in 2020. Expect the Bengals to be active in free agency and sign one or two OL. If he is available with the fifth pick in the Draft Cincinnati is likely to take Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell.

Chase was the top deep threat for Burrow when LSU won the 2019 National Championship. If he is available with the fifth pick in the NFL Draft, Cincinnati will have a decision to make. The Bengals are likely to look for a playmaking deep threat WR through free agency or in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Bengals poised to be top 5 team to make major 2021 leap. dark. Next

As the Bengals build their offense of the future around Burrow, upgrading the OL and at WR will become critical. The WR corps has a good foundation with Boyd and Higgins. The Bengals OL needs to add an anchor or two to build around. The 2019 Cincinnati first-round pick Jonah Williams is more of a solid starter than an All-Pro.

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