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NFL Draft

What Joe Burrow Did And Didn’t Do Well In 1st Win

  • The Draft Network
  • October 7, 2020
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It felt like ages since the last time we watched Joe Burrow walk off a football field victorious. In reality, it was just four games.

After running the table last college football season, we figured it might be a minute before Burrow got back to victory formation in the NFL after going to the team whose record was so bad last year they earned the No. 1 overall pick. But with a decent amount of offensive weapons at his disposal, Burrow made his first few games competitive, and this past Sunday was able to record the first win of his career.

In the Bengals’ 33-25 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Burrow completed 25-of-36 passes for 300 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Outside of his first start, it was actually the lowest statistical performance he’s had yet. But we know that these games and the reasons for the results often go far beyond the boxscore.

So I decided to take a dive into the All-22 of Burrow’s first win to see how it looked from multiple angles.

Right from the get-go, Burrow was doing vintage Burrow things—something that he’s honestly been doing, in some form, from his first snap on. 

What made Burrow so good in his final year of college ball was his confidence. Yes, by his senior season he had the mental processing, the natural accuracy, the quick feet, and much more, but it was confidence that truly brought that all together and took him to a level no other quarterback has achieved.

Burrow showed off that confidence in the opening drive in the clip above. Though the pass was not complete, notice how comfortable Burrow was adjusting to pressure, navigating the pocket, and then eventually moving to the outside to throw on the run. Burrow is so poised under pressure, and that will go a long way toward a potentially successful NFL career.

Burrow has been good, but he has not been as deadly accurate as he was in college. I believe a big reason for that is he’s still adjusting to NFL speed.

Burrow was one of the best in all of college football at accuracy and touch, which is what allowed his talented receivers to be so great after the catch last season. I think that Burrow is reading the field well, which is tough to do as a rookie, especially just four games in. He’s reading coverages and diagnosing where the ball should be going early in his progression and the ball is often finding the right player. But it’s not always getting there when it should or where it should. 

The throw above is a good example of that. It was a good read by Burrow to find the right receiver, but that ball had to have a lot more pace on it. At college speed, that’s probably a catch and run in stride. But the NFL is on a different level. He’s still working on that.

Burrow doesn’t have the strongest arm in the world (even he said that at the NFL Scouting Combine last year), but his arm is adequate. Plays like the one above were more evidence to me throughout the game that Burrow just doesn’t have a good grasp of NFL speeds.

That ball needed to be much further in front of the receiver. The receiver had his man beat; he didn’t need to be fighting for the ball at the catch point. That could have been a touchdown had Burrow put that ball more ahead of the receiver. It’s not a super taxing throw in terms of distance, so I think Burrow has the ability to put more pace on that kind of pass to lead his guy, he just didn’t.

Burrow’s lone interception was yet another example of that.

That play was honestly just incredible by Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack. I have no idea how he was able to corral that ball for possession. But the ball honestly should have never been close to him. You can tell Burrow knows where to place that ball (above the defender’s head to the highest point where the receiver can get it). With Burrow having a long history of good accuracy, I have to believe that the speed at which he judged this pass is why it went as an interception, not because he doesn’t have the ability to pinpoint the throw.

Not only did Burrow’s lack of pace on passes hurt him in the form of a turnover, but it also literally hurt one of his receivers.

Burrow could have gotten away with this type of touch and pace on a floater pass over the second level in college. But in the NFL, safeties break on the ball with much more speed. Burrow served his guy up for a big hit. You can’t build a reputation of being this kind of quarterback. This ball had to have a lot more heat on it to protect the player.

Now, I’ll end with some good, because of course, Burrow did win the game.

That pass above was vintage Burrow, and it was a thing of beauty. The touch, timing, and accuracy it takes to nail a deep crosser like that against man coverage is tough. But the best make it look easy, just like Burrow did there.

Overall, Burrow did enough to get his first win. He had some nice throws in that game, and his confidence is shining early on, but he is still adjusting to the speed of the game. When he’s able to turn up the heat on passes while still throwing with good touch and accuracy, that’s when we’ll really see Burrow’s career take off.

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