Not long after the Cincinnati Bengals lost Super Bowl LVI, faint whispers started to reverberate across the internet, comparing Joe Burrow to a former Lombard trophy-less quarterback.
Marino, who only appeared in one Super Bowl in his second season, never returned to the championship and finished his career with zero rings.
A more modern comparison to Joe Burrow may be Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck, who also never won a Super Bowl in his brief but impressive career.
On a recent episode of Get Up, NFL analyst Dan Orlovsky likened Burrow’s early career to that of Luck, who retired after just six seasons.
Orlovsky issued a word of caution to the Bengals organization, telling the front office to do what they should have done prior to the 2021 season: Get a strong offensive line.
"You are not going to protect Joe Burrow if you play with the five guys you’ve played with all season. You watch this kid get beat up game after game after game. That will not last in this league."
In the last 45 years, 27 quarterbacks have lost at least one Super Bowl. Only four have come back to win one later in their career — Tom Brady did it twice, John Elway once, and Peyton Manning once.
The odds of any quarterback returning to the Super Bowl simply aren’t that high due to the plethora of factors that go into a team’s championship run.
Cincinnati Bengals can’t let Joe Burrow go down the Andrew Luck track
But Orlovsky isn’t just worried about Burrow’s shot at winning the Lombardi trophy — he’s worried about his legacy, Burrow’s potentially storied career being cut short because of how hard and how often he gets hit in games.
In 2021, Burrow got sacked 19 times in the playoffs and a league-high 51 times in regular season. This coming off a season-ending ACL injury the year prior and hurting his other knee against the Chiefs in Week 17.
While Burrow doesn’t seem to be especially injury-prone, it’s still early in his career, and there’s no telling how his body will react if he keeps on absorbing impacts and the occasional dangerous low blow.
The way Burrow has turned the Bengals franchise around evokes what Luck did in Indy, where Luck led the Colts to an 11-5 record in each of his first three seasons.
Like Burrow, Luck won the Comeback Player of the Year award in 2018, when Indy finished 10-6 and reached the playoffs despite starting the season 1-5.
Unlike Burrow, 2018 was Luck’s last year, and he retired to the shock of NFL fans everywhere. The four-time Pro Bowler reportedly called it quits because he was stuck in a never-ending cycle of injuries and rehab. Luck dealt with rib and shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016, underwent surgery for his shoulder in 2017 (and missed the entire season), and suffered a calf problem prior to the 2019 season.
In Luck’s six-year career, he was sacked on five percent of plays where he attempted to pass.
In Burrow’s two years in Cincy, he was sacked on 8.2 percent of those plays.
Burrow has shown incredible resilience in bouncing back after his ACL injury, but another injury, or even a nagging issue, could completely derail his career and ruin the Bengals’ Super Bowl hopes for good.
Unless Cincinnati want Burrow’s legacy to be reduced to what could have been, the organization must invest in quarterback protection this offseason. Easier said than done, but it must be said, and it absolutely must be done.
Let Luck be the cautionary tale. Burrow still has the chance to be the redemptive Super Bowl hero.