Zac Taylor Gets Brutally Honest About Joe Burrow
Zac Taylor got brutally honest about Joe Burrow this week. The Cincinnati Bengals head coach has been careful to manage expectations up to this point, but on Tuesday he finally opened up about what precisely his No. 1 draft pick brings to the table.
“He really breathes life into this offense, into this team,” Taylor admitted.
“He’s very confident; he’s not arrogant. I think the team believes in this guy right now, but again he’s earned that in the way that he’s gone about his work, the way he operates in the meetings, the way he communicates with his teammates on both sides of the ball. He’s filling into that leadership role as well as any young player can do right now.”
— Brandon Saho (@BrandonSaho) August 18, 2020
The Bengals selected Burrow with the top overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. After finishing 2019 with a 2-14 mark, the organization realized that serious changes needed to be made. Chief among those changes was moving on from Andy Dalton, who had been with the franchise since 2011.
Now Burrow has been tasked with doing for the Bengals what he did for LSU last year – turning them into a championship-level football team. It is a lofty ask for a 23-year-old, but Burrow isn’t just any 23-year-old.
Joe Burrow’s Teammates Already Love Him
Ever since the launch of training camp, various Cincinnati players have been emerging from the shadows to comment on just how impressive Burrow has looked thus far.
“He’s a beast,” observed Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah.
“He’s an absolute beast. He’s an animal out there. He’s making all the right reads. He’s getting us in and out of all the right protections and making all the right checks and certain checks I didn’t even know we were allowed to check into.”
Joe Burrow and first team offense just started at own 20 yard line with 1:30 on the clock vs first team “D”. He calmly completes 5 of 6 passes ending with a TD to Auden Tate on a great throw between two defenders
— Dan Hoard (@Dan_Hoard) August 24, 2020
Uzomah was not alone in praising Burrow.
“The first time he threw a ball, it was a bullet,” said wide receiver Tee Higgins, who the team selected with the 33rd pick this year’s draft. “It shocked me.”
The highlight of Joe Burrow’s day was a long TD pass to WR DaMarkus Lodge. Burrow tossed a perfect ball 40 yards down the field. #Bengals
— Tyler Dragon (@TheTylerDragon) August 24, 2020
Obviously this is all just training camp talk, so it should be taken with a grain of salt, but for now it sounds like the Bengals have a lot to be optimistic about.
Can Joe Burrow Make An Immediate Impact?
The big question now is how soon Burrow will be able to make a impact on Cincinnati’s wins and losses totals.
On one hand, the Bengals attempted to aggressively upgrade the roster this offseason. More than $130 million was spent on eight free agents, which is obviously a lot.
The team also nabbed Higgins in the second round of this year’s draft. The idea is that he will learn from a finally-healthy A.J. Green, and that the duo will together provide a decent set of receiving options for Burrow.
Then there is running back Joe Mixon, who will presumably be the focal point of the offense to start and ideally take some pressure off the team’s young quarterback.
Unfortunately, the Bengals still have a lot of issues, too. The biggest is the offensive line. Jonah Williams is very much a question mark. Bobby Hart is perpetually unimpressive.
There is a reason why this photo went viral recently:
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) August 18, 2020
It’s a scary prospect.
Defensively the Bengals went out and completely re-worked that side of the ball. Out are Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard, in come D.J. Reader, Mackensie Alexander, Josh Bynes and Vonn Bell.
Clearly Cincinnati upgraded, but was it by enough to have a material impact on their wins/losses record? That is unclear at this stage.
All in all, the Bengals still face an uphill battle in 2020, even if Burrow is as good as advertised.
The Baltimore Ravens are a Super Bowl favorite. Ben Roethlisberger is returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they were almost a playoff team without him. Kevin Stefanski should be able to do a lot more with all the talent on the Cleveland Browns’ roster than Freddie Kitchens did.
Even if everything goes right for Burrow and Co., the Bengals are still the fourth best team in their division. Maybe third-best if the Steelers regress or the Browns go full Browns.
That being said, clearly things are trending upward for Cincinnati. And when you are a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs in five years, that is pretty much all you can ask for.