Yesterday I did a big write-up on how Cincinnati’s AFC North rival, the Browns, are even more of a disaster than usual given that Deshaun Watson is done for the year. I feel like punching “up” at a gazillionaire with a rap sheet of sexual misconduct allegations that you could barely fit onto a QB wristband is justifiable.
What some classless Ravens fans decided to do, on the other hand…
Now look, Baltimore has had to see Lamar Jackson’s season cut short the past two years due to injury. It’s a big reason why the Bengals won the division back-to-back. I’m a fan of the team and can acknowledge that. I can also acknowledge that Joe Brrr has made far more of his playoff opportunities than Jackson has to date.
So while I understand there’s some pent-up frustration over how the prior couple seasons have ended, there’s no place for exclaiming, “F*CK JOE BURROW!” after the man gets hit with his latest hard-luck injury.
Yours truly is still in a depressed sort of haze from what happened last night. Can we just recap some of the hard-luck injuries Burrow has had before y’all toss around “INJURY PRONE” as part of the discourse? Burrow has never had a normal NFL offseason/training camp and it’s little to do with him.
2020, rookie season: Draft prep fresh off a national title run, goes to worst team in NFL, plays behind a pathetic offensive line, gets his knee exploded into approx. 30 different pieces
2021: Rehab for torn ACL, MCL, and “other structural damage.” Still playing behind an awful o-line. Drags the Bengals to a Super Bowl appearance.
2022: Ruptured aka burst appendix. Surgery and hospital stay during training camp. Obvious rust upon return. Overcomes 0-2 start to lead the Bengals three points away from another Super Bowl appearance.
2023: One false step, awful calf strain. Can’t move to start the season. Bengals start 1-3. Rattle off four victories in a row once Burrow is healthy. Lose a heartbreaker to the Texans off Tyler Boyd’s WAO drop in the end zone. Short week. Thursday game. Wrist injury. Out for season.
Joe Burrow Deshaun Watson Aaron Rodgers (?) Anthony Richardson Kirk Cousins Daniel Jones
Starting quarterbacks out for the season.
Also, there have been multiple QBs missing significant time.
It’s been a tough year for a lot of fan bases. When it comes to Joe Burrow and the insane adversity he’s faced since reaching the NFL, it’s truly hard to explain. I’m almost at a loss for words. How can one young man suffer that many tough breaks?
As for the investigation into whether the team withheld injury information, pretty sure this quote from Burrow will put that to bed.
#Bengals QB Joe Burrow says the device he was wearing off the plane was a compression sleeve, not a brace for an injury.
"It's not uncommon for guys to wear compression sleeves on the plane. When you go up to that altitude, things can swell up."
Not sure the karmic comeuppance argument holds true for Deshaun Watson if this type of sh*t is happening to someone as unproblematic and beloved as Joe Burrow. Or Kirk Cousins for that matter. Or Anthony Richardson. And so on.
In any event, Burrow is the antithesis of Deshaun. It’s an embarrassment to share a division with that clown. Joey B is everything you want in a franchise quarterback and model citizen to represent the NFL shield and the Bengals organization. He almost single-handedly transformed Cincinnati from a poverty franchise to a perennial AFC contender in, what, a year?
The truth is, the Bengals were already in a big hole with Burrow banged up early on. Their supposed elite defense also ranks 30th in total yards allowed — way down from 16th last season — and 29th in PFF’s overall rankings.
Even with that side of the ball not getting it done to a frankly shocking degree, Cincinnati was a brutal Boyd drop and a fluky Burrow injury away from potentially being 6-4 at worst, maybe even 7-3 had the Bengals rallied back on Thursday night with their QB1 under center.
I’ll leave room for the possibility that Jake Browning has evolved from noodle-armed Washington Huskies QB to a passable professional who can win games as a starter. The Bengals would’ve cut him long ago if he was still that same guy from college. Plus, with what we’ve seen from journeyman Joshua Dobbs, it feels like anything is possible.
Ever the good teammate, Burrow has Browning’s back.
Burrow on Browning: "We're very similar people. That's why I'm such good friends with him. No moment is too big for him."
"He's a guy that's going to continue to get better."
Browning would need to play like a top-12 quarterback at least to overcome some of the defensive issues the Bengals are having. The only good news is the team has a higher draft pick to look forward to, along with the beast of all tests to see how tight this close-knit locker room really is.
Don’t get it twisted. These Bengals aren’t throwing in the towel. They will play hard, compete, alter their offense to a more run-centric attack around Joe Mixon, and put their best foot forward. Given the dire state of their defense and the downgrade from Burrow to Browning, though, it’s such a tall ask to even post a winning record from here on out. That’s especially so considering, you know, Cincinnati doesn’t face a single opponent with a current losing record the rest of the way.
Bengals remaining schedule:
vs. Steelers @ Jacksonville vs. Colts vs. Vikings @ Steelers @ Chiefs vs. Browns
We’ll see if defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo can tap into any magic and drastically improve his unit. In lieu of that, there’s nothing much of comfort I can offer to Who Dey Nation. It’s a long wait till Week 1, 2024. But at least with the defense’s struggles, there’s little chance Anarumo will get away for a head coaching gig just yet.
Give us a f*cking regular offseason/training camp for Joe Burrow this next year. Keep Anarumo in the fold. Bolster this roster a bit, continue to build both sides of the line of scrimmage, and let’s cook next season.
For now, good luck Jake Browning and the rest of the 2023 Bengals. I’ll be watching in a sort of numbed-out way every Sunday from here on out, wondering how it’s even possible that Joe Burrow is hurt again. How about a mic drop from our fearless leader to play us out?
Joe Burrow: "That's the life we live. That's football. You are going to get injured. Things are going to happen. You are going to overcome things to get where you are at."