Quarterback Joe Burrow entered the 2020 NFL season, which was his rookie season, with a ton of expectation to perform at a high level. The Cincinnati Bengals spent the No. 1 overall pick on him so there was a ton of pressure on the LSU quarterback.
Through 10 games, Burrow was impressing and a frontrunner alongside Justin Herbert for Rookie of the Year. Burrow had thrown for 2,688 yards, 13 touchdowns, completing 65.7 percent of his passes all whilst behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league, which led to him getting sacked 32 times.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly how Burrow’s magical rookie season would end, on the 32nd sack in week 10 vs. Washington. Burrow went down with one of the most devastating knee injuries possible. He tore his ACL, MCL, and suffered partial tears to his PCL and meniscus.
A knee injury this devastating is usually expected to take at least 12 months to fully recover. Burrow, however, was determined to be ready to go for week one of the 2021 season. Many thought it just wasn’t realistic for Burrow to return that early to the field. The thought most had was he would return a few weeks into the 2021 season at the earliest.
Burrow, being the superhero he is, was able to start the season for the Bengals in 2021. The Athens native hasn’t lost a step from his impressive start last year, and in fact, has been even better.
Joe Burrow is stamping himself in as one of the elite QB’s this season
The former Heisman Trophy winner has had a stellar 2021 season up to this point. Burrow, is PFF’s highest-rated QB in 2021, rated 90.4. This is a very impressive feat for a quarterback who is14 weeks into his second year.
Burrow also ranks top 10 in every important quarterback stat. He’s eighth in passing yards, eighth in touchdowns, fourth in competition percentage, and fifth in quarterback rating.
All of these impressive stats come whilst being the most sacked quarterback in the NFL. Burrow has been sacked a total of 44 times, which is three more than the next closest quarterback, Ryan Tannehill (sacked 41 times), and six times more than the third-most sacked quarterback, Lamar Jackson (sacked 38 times).
The only thing Burrow has struggled with this year is his interceptions. He ranks first in the league with 14 picks. One can argue that the stat is a bit inflated due to things out of Burrow’s control like dropped balls being picked off, and tipped balls at the line turning into interceptions. Burrow though would be the first person to say that he has been trying to force the ball into tight windows a bit too much this year.
The Athens native has only played a total of 24 games in the NFL so the quarterback is still learning when he should try and make a risky throw and when to find another read.
Burrow’s competition for CPOY
As of this writing, WynnBET has Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott as the favorite for the award and a pretty significant one at that with -750 odds. Prescott entered the 2021 season coming off a season-ending injury in 2020.
In week 5 of the 2020 season, Prescott suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle. The Cowboys’ Super Bowl hopes were crushed that same day.
Fast forward to the present day and Prescott has led Dallas to 10 wins so far 15 weeks into the season whilst being one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
Burrow is second in the Comeback Player of the Year race with +650 odds. In third place is 49ers linebacker Nick Bosa, who has +800 odds to be crowned CPOTY.
The former Ohio State Buckeye put his name among the elites during his rookie year and San Francisco was expecting big things out of him in 2020. Unfortunately for Bosa and the 49ers, Bosa tore his ACL in week two, causing him to miss the rest of his 2020 campaign. It was a brutal blow for the Niners after Bosa and the rest of that stout defense got San Francisco to the Super Bowl.
In 2021, Bosa has picked up right where he left off. Fifteen weeks into the season, the 2019 NFL Rookie of the Year has wreaked havoc on opposing teams’ offensive lines. Bosa has 29 QB hits, 18 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, and four forced fumbles.
The last few weeks in the season are vital for these players if they are going to win the award.
The former LSU Tiger is changing a franchise around for the better
The Bengals weren’t supposed to be contenders in the AFC North this year. As we enter week 16, the good guys are not only in a position to make the playoffs but they’re leading the division right now.
Cincinnati being in the position that they are right now is all thanks to their signal-caller. Burrow has transformed a franchise that hasn’t been relevant in half a decade into a force to be reckoned with.
The former Heisman Trophy winner is leading the Bengals to one of the best seasons they’ve had in years all whilst coming off a devastating knee injury halfway through his rookie year. The way Burrow has changed this franchise and made them a playoff contender is why he has a great case to win Comeback Player of the Year.
Burrow’s teammates call him “Joey Franchise” for a reason!