Joe Burrow’s rehab from an ACL tear allowed the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback time to assess his play from an abbreviated rookie season.
Discussing his return to action with Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, Burrow said one area he needs to improve in Year 2 is his deep-ball accuracy to create more explosive plays.
“There was some good and some bad [from 2020],” Burrow said. “I’d like to be more explosive. And I think I was really good in quick-game situations. On fourth down, we were really good. Empty, we were really good. But we need to be more explosive with play-action passes. All of our downfield passing needs to improve.”
Burrow completed just 9 of 46 pass attempts of 20-plus air yards in 2020 for 293 yards and one TD, per Next Gen Stats. His 19.6 completion percentage and -9.1 completion percentage over expected were the worst among all quarterbacks with at least 40 deep shots, per NGS.
“I just wasn’t accurate as I was the year before [at LSU] down the field,” Burrow told Breer. “And that was frustrating to me, because I’ve always been a good down-the-field thrower. Just getting back to the basics of that, really focusing on my fundamentals. I just started running and throwing a few weeks ago, so standing and throwing, and focusing on the fundamentals helped.”
The addition of first-round receiver Ja'Marr Chase to go along with Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd gives Burrow a wideout trio with explosive potential. First, Burrow must have time to make those big plays count, and then the QB must be more accurate than his rookie campaign.
The 24-year-old quarterback said last week he’s at “85 percent” strength at this stage of his rehab. Burrow reiterated to Breer that he hopes he’ll be 100 percent by the start of training camp in July and at the very least by Week 1.
“I don’t know how mobile I’ll be yet, it’s too early to tell if I’ll feel normal evading the rush and doing all that,” Burrow said. “But I’m optimistic, I feel good right now. We’ll just have to wait and see until camp, how that’s gonna feel. … I’m really doing everything, at this point, it’s just getting my leg stronger. It’s hard to say how explosive I’m going to be in the run game as of right now.”
If Burrow is explosive with his arm in 2021, that’ll be good enough for the Bengals offense to succeed.
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