By Conrad Clowers
Herald Sports Writer
Last season when Joe Burrow sat on the ground rolling around in pain in the nations capital against the Washington Redskins, it wasn’t good. You could see the hopes of Bengal fans just deflate like a tire being punctured with a nail. It wasn’t like Cincinnati was going to contend for a Super Bowl or anything last season. But excitement and hope were brought back for the most hyped Bengal quarterback since Carson Palmer in 2003.
Here we are 10 months after Burrow tore ligaments in his knee. When Burrow took the field in the Bengals’ first offensive possession of the 2021 NFL season he was given a standing ovation roar. The roar was not just praise for Burrows hard work back. The roar was the restoration of hope. Hope the Bengals now have to getting back to respectability. If there is a more snake bitten franchise than the Cincinnati Bengals, they have yet to show their face.
In 2005, the Bengals had a legit chance to make it to the Super Bowl. A Carson Palmer’s knee injury in the playoffs against the Pittsburg Steelers ended that dream.
In 2015, Andy Dalton was having an MVP season. His season ended against the same Pittsburg franchise late in the season on a hand injury. It would be nice to see what heights Burrow can reach if he can stay healthy an entire season. The Bengal quarterback had the greatest statistical season ever for a college QB in 2019, as he led the LSU Tigers to a National Championship and an undefeated season. He became one of the most ballyhooed quarterbacks ever to come out of college. It just happened to be a year where the Bengals were the worst team in the NFL putting them in a position to pick first.
Burrow had a solid rookie season. He was able to get in 10 games before his season ended. He completed 264 passes out of 404 attempts. When all was said and done, Burrow had thrown for 2,688 yards along with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. He finished with a passer rating of 89.8.
Cincinnati has high hopes for 2021. The pressure is on head coach Zac Taylor to start winning, after only producing six wins in his first two seasons. Taylor knows his chances of winning hinge on Burrow being healthy and under center. The 2021 season got off to a great start this past weekend, as Cincinnati was able to defeat the Minnesota Vikings in the season opener on the last play of overtime 27-24. Burrow picked up in 21 where he left off in 20. The LSU product was able to reconnect with his LSU teammate and first round pick Jamar Chase for a touchdown. He would go on to pass for 261 yards completing 20 of 27 passes for two touchdowns.
There’s a long way to go before the end of the 2021 season. For once the season started out with a note of hope and a win. There has not been much of that in the last five seasons. As long as Burrow can stay healthy, Cincinnati has a chance. With the Athens, Ohio, native showing he can perform, that chance is pretty good.