Joe Burrow brings equal parts swagger and reckless into prime-time debut

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Is Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow ready for prime time? Yes, he is. And no, he isn’t.

The highlights-only impression of the first overall pick’s debut goes like this: “He’s good. He’s capable. The wins will come, especially if/when the Bengals have a kicker who won’t miss a chip shot while simultaneously injuring both calf muscles.”

The watched-the-game impression is different. Burrow has “it,” the undefinable quality that makes him a potential star player at the NFL level. He’s fearless. He lets it rip without hesitation. He runs the ball with courage and determination and a more-than-average amount of speed.

But there are concerns, at least based on his baptism by lightning bolt. Beyond his fair share of missed throws (then again, even #Tommy did that on Sunday), Burrow had three what-the-eff? moments against the Chargers where, in his desire to make something happen, he crossed the line that divides swagger and reckless.

Before a fourth-quarter boneheaded shovel pass thrown directly to Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram (the Bengals were in range to tie the game, assuming Randy Bullock‘s leg and/or calves would have complied), Burrow had a pair of head-scratching moments on the same first-half drive, trying a similar impromptu shovel pass that wasn’t intercepted (or caught) and later opting for a desperation lateral to running back Joe Mixon that became a live ball that wasn’t recovered by the defense before it ended up out of bounds.

There’s a separate concern as it relates to Burrow. He makes little or no effort to get out of harm’s way. As a result, Burrow took plenty of hits while trying to pass and trying to run. If he keeps getting hit, he’ll eventually get hurt.

All in all, the glass is more than half full. But anyone who watches tonight’s game (and everyone should) should be bracing for Burrow making a big mistake and/or taking a big hit as he struggles to tries in only his second NFL start to strike the right balance between confidence and delusion.

4 responses to “Joe Burrow brings equal parts swagger and reckless into prime-time debut

  1. If his receivers wouldn’t have A. dropped a perfect pass in the end-zone or B. pushed-off on another TD pass he would have had a heck of a game, accounting for 3 TDs. As it is he still completed like 60% of passes in his first game with zero preseason games or OTAs.
    He did enough to win his first game.

    That OPI was questionable at best BTW

  2. Was thinking the same thing last week. Either the San Diego defensive front is the 2nd coming of the ’00 Ravens or the Bengals Oline is really REALLY bad but Burrow was taking some big shots. Hopefully the line isn’t as bad as they looked last week.

  3. So Joe Burrow is taking shot “from the bow” based on..what exactly? He has had no preseason, a new system, a new coach, a new set of playmakers…and he gets tagged with “a line that divides swagger and reckless”?

    For a young man that took the measure of Ohio State (and came up wanting…in their opinion), then transferred to LSU where he not only had to win over his teammates, but also the coaching staff and a cadre of the toughest fans in football..He then went on to set records across the board, win every game in his senior season, along with just about every award imaginable..including the Heisman..and he gets criticizes by those who have never played a snap?

    He certainly deserves better than half fast criticism. Geaux Joe…Geaux. Anyone that actually knows the game can see your actual as well as hidden talent.

  4. I watched that game. What I saw was a rookie with no preseason. An offensive line that didnt get its act together till 4th quarter. Burrow made mistakes, they all did. A defense that played better than expected. And three boneheaded plays from QB. Burrow got hit hard three times, bounced right back up. Hopefully he learned and wont make those same mistakes. Tonight will tell. Mixon needs to step it up tonight to help out. Score enough touchdowns where kicker isn’t needed.

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