The Cincinnati Bengals quarterbacks situation looks to be as straightforward as can be. With the incumbent signal-caller at the top, Cincinnati will not be inundated with “quarterback battle” headlines as other teams are accustomed to. If we are being honest, when was the last time there was no unquestioned starting quarterback heading into training camp? 2003? Even then, the plan all along was to start Jon Kitna and redshirt first-overall pick Carson Palmer.
The quarterback position in Cincinnati looks to be as solid as ever. They are fresh off of an AFC North and AFC Championship and will be facing the third-most-difficult schedule in football. However, for the first time in his NFL career, Joe Burrow will have a normal offseason to prepare for the season. Thanks to the upgrades to his offensive line, this will be the first season where fans are not expecting the worst when it comes to Burrow’s health.
Previewing the Cincinnati Bengals Quarterbacks Heading into Training Camp
QB1 in Cincinnati is unquestionably, unequivocably Joe Burrow. The third-year quarterback heads into 2022 with unfinished business and a hunger for more. The Bengals were an Aaron Donald misstep away from being kings of the football world. Instead, Burrow and company are brushed off as just another statistic.
Last year, Burrow’s recovery from his knee getting nuked carried over into the season. For the first three weeks, the game plan was to keep Burrow away from too many hits. While the plan was technically successful – Burrow attempted just 25 passes per game and completed 71% of his throws – Burrow was sacked a whopping ten times in the first two weeks alone. Despite having the single-most prolific year in Bengals history throwing the ball, the number that hangs over his head is 70. He was sacked 70 times across 20 games. He lobbied for offensive line help and the front office listened to the tune of signing three new starting linemen.
After such a strong 2021 campaign, Burrow is viewed as a top-five quarterback in the league by those within the NFL. Considering his play alone, this is not surprising. His mental processing and ability to know exactly what defenses are throwing at him is already at an elite level. Burrow was sacked at least five times in a single game seven times, including the nine-sack AFC Divisional Round and seven-sack Super Bowl LVI. Despite playing with the mental toll of knowing any snap could be his last, Burrow continued to step up.
Joe Burrow 🚀
Joe Mixon 🚀
Ja'Marr Chase 🚀
Tee Higgins 🚀
Tyler Boyd 🚀 pic.twitter.com/S217hj6nth
— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) July 18, 2022
This year, cutting down on turnovers will be the key to success. If provided with even a league-average offensive line, Burrow will have more time to make decisions and find one of his many playmakers. That said, he’s a playmaker himself. Burrow loves to manipulate the pocket and extend plays. While this is one of his greatest traits, it is a big reason for his 16 interceptions in his 20 games.
Cincinnati is poised to continue its pass-first offense this fall. Even with a porous offensive line in 2021, Cincinnati threw the ball on first down 63% of the time, good for ninth-most in the league. With a rejuvenated line and confidence through the roof, Burrow is going to be yet another top quarterback in the NFL. He will be the leader of this Bengals quarterbacks group in 2022.
Behind Burrow, the depth of the Bengals quarterbacks thins out. Brandon Allen came to Cincinnati by way of free agency after spending the first four years of his career jumping around between the Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams, and Denver Broncos. For Cincinnati, Allen appeared in five of the final six games of the 2020 season after Burow’s injury. Last year, Allen appeared in six games and started the Week 18 game against the Cleveland Browns.
The Bengals are 1-5 in games that Allen starts between the two years. He’s totaled 1,074 yards and seven touchdowns and has completed 60.8% of his passes. He is considered a solid backup to Burrow but not a guy to build around. Allen can make spot starts when needed but as the Bengals have seen, there is a significant drop from Burrow.
The final one of the Bengals quarterbacks is a likely cut candidate. Jake Browning is best known for leading his Washington Huskies to the College Football Playoff in 2016, Fiesta Bowl in 2017, and Rose Bowl in 2018. He finished his UW career with the most passing yards and touchdowns of any Huskies quarterback.
Heading into the draft, however, there was little-to-no hype surrounding the quarterback. He went undrafted and was signed by the Minnesota Vikings. After spending both the 2019 and 2020 seasons on the Vikings practice squad, he was waived. Cincinnati picked him up as a practice squad arm and was inactive for the first 17 weeks.
Barring anything crazy, Browning’s Bengals career will continue the same way. The Bengals have too many athletes on the roster, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They will likely only keep two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.