Nearly one year ago, Cincinnati Bengals fans reveled in the first of many great Joe Burrow moments. That, of course, was when Roger Goddell announced the team was selecting the Heisman winner with the first overall pick. While he still has a long way to go, Burrow’s rookie year proved his ability to be a great NFL quarterback. With a little less than one NFL season on his resume, Joe Burrow gave fans moments that show his enormous capabilities…
Joe Burrow Rookie Moments That Proved Path to Greatness
After one season of professional football, Joe Burrow gave fans moments that previewed the legend of a future great. While he didn’t lead rookies in many statistical categories, Burrow’s numbers will never tell the full story. On the field and behind the scenes, Burrow showed leadership and clutch traits that changed the course of Cincinnati’s franchise. Still, there’s a long road ahead for Burrow. After all, the Bengals finished 4-11-1 and are picking fifth in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Of course, one of the defining moments of Joe Burrow’s rookie campaign will always be remembered as the most unfortunate. His suffering of a torn ACL against the Washington Football Team made a dark bookend to a brilliant first ten games. Burrow accumulated 2,688 passing yards, 13 touchdowns, completed 65.3% of his passes, and threw just five interceptions in 2020. Now, with Burrow on the road to recovery and Cincinnati improving their offensive line, he’s set up for more big things in 2021.
April 23rd, 2020: “Time to get to work.”
Just minutes after being selected with the first pick in the 2020 NFL, Burrow showed his hunger. He didn’t need to say much, but his first tweet as a Bengal gave fans insight into the team’s newest employee. In the midst of a nasty pre-draft process with national media members hammering the Bengals, Burrow proved to be ready. He could’ve bought into the ‘pull an Eli Manning’ narrative and demanded a trade to the Miami Dolphins. Instead, he continued to praise the organization and show a desire to chase Super Bowls for decades in Cincinnati.
Enough talk. Time to get to work. https://t.co/EAK97ZePE8
— Joey Burrow (@JoeyB) April 24, 2020
August 29th, 2020: Joe Burrow is Tabbed by Teammates to Speak at Freedom Center
The team needed to say something. With the Black Lives Matter movement and racial injustice leading the national conversation, the Bengals organization had been too quiet. That was until Aug. 29, 2020, when the team led a march to Cincinnati’s National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Two Bengals leaders were tabbed to address the community at the march. One, the team’s gritty, veteran center, Trey Hopkins. The other, their rookie quarterback, Joe Burrow.
Among 80 of his teammates, they chose their young quarterback in Burrow, who had yet to play a regular-season snap. “It is each of our responsibility to effect change in our communities, not only for us but for those yet to come. We cannot turn a blind eye to the racism still experienced in this country. This is not an issue of politics but a fight for equality and life. If this nation is to ever reach the goals that it has promised its citizens, we must be catalysts for change,” Burrow said at the podium. This not only showed Burrow’s love within the locker room but his ability to lead in life’s many facets.
September 17th, 2020: Burrow Puts the Team On His Back after Primetime Loss
In the first of two wire-to-wire battles with the Cleveland Browns, Joe Burrow had his first national television moment. On Thursday Night Football, the Bengals fell 35-30 to their rivals on the road. Still, it was a brilliant night for Burrow, one where he set a rookie record for pass attempts in a game. He finished with 316 yards, three touchdowns, and completed 37-of-61 passes. In a game taken by the Browns, it was Burrow who shined in the aftermath. Having outplayed another recent first-overall pick in Baker Mayfield, Burrow showed the league that he’s the real deal.
November 1st, 2020: Joe Burrow Shines As Bengals Dismantle Contender
Entering this Week 8 matchup, the Tennesee Titans and Bengals were on opposite ends of the league’s spectrum. The Titans were off to a 5-1 start with their only blemish coming against the then-undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers. Meanwhile, the Bengals were 1-5-1, fresh off of another heartbreaking loss to the Browns.
Against one of the league’s presumptive Super Bowl contenders, Joe Burrow led a dominant, 31-20 home win. He threw for 249 yards, two touchdowns, and completed 26-of-37 passes, with the Titans never grasping a lead or tie after Cincinnati’s first score. In another impressive feat, the team converted 10-of-15 third downs, keeping the Titans offense off the field. While Burrow wouldn’t win another game in his rookie campaign, this was a big one.
March 31st, 2021: Burrow’s Anticipated Return to the Field
In March, rumblings around Cincinnati indicated that their franchise quarterback was getting ready to head back on the gridiron. On Mar. 31, 2021, the Bengals social accounts shared a video of Burrow walking onto the field. Over his trainer’s shoulder was carrying a bag of footballs, indicating the young quarterback’s return to throwing.
Reminder: April Fools' Day is tomorrow, it's not today. pic.twitter.com/rJVJZqzIiP
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) March 31, 2021
Some fans will choose to remember Nov. 22, 2020, as a key date, the day Burrow suffered his nasty knee injury. Instead, it feels important to focus on his recovery, a process that greatly encourages people inside of Paul Brown Stadium. In comments with the media, Director of Player Personnel, Duke Tobin, suggested that Burrow is attacking his rehab. Further, he indicated that the 24-year-old passer is getting ready for Week One.
People inside Burrow’s camp are equally impressed with his recovery. “That not only where he’s progressed physically, but that’s great for his mental state of mind too, to be able to throw the football,” Jimmy Burrow, Joe’s father, told Jeremy Rauch of Cincinnati’s FOX19. “At some point in the next month or whatever, then he can start utilizing receivers.”
The road back to the field for Burrow certainly isn’t easy. Regardless, all signs point to the young quarterback aiming for a speedy return. In reality, it would be great for the Bengals and the NFL as a whole to have the premier passer healthy. Should he be back in action early in 2021, expect more brilliant Joe Burrow moments in his sophomore season.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images