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One and done: Why Joe Burrow will surpass Dan Marino’s Super Bowl legacy

Joe Burrow has set the standard for success across college football that has become synonymous with his namesake. Any time a quarterback leaves a school and quickly garners recognition elsewhere or experiences a high level of growth in a way that catches national attention in a single season it’s just as much known as a “Joe Burrow-like rise” as it is a “meteoric rise.”

With these seemingly instant types of surges comes skepticism that the player can remain consistently as exceptional as they were in college when transitioning to the NFL level.

That was about as much of a problem for Burrow as the transition from coming off the bench at Ohio State to leading LSU to a historical undefeated season capped off with a national championship victory over Clemson.

Related: Joe Burrow and NFL’s top QBs of 2022

From LSU to the NFL in an impressive manner

cincinnati bengals qb joe burrow
Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Burrow quickly became one of the best players the Bengals had after the team selected him with the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, very much on pace to win Rookie of the Year before a knee injury that required reconstructive surgery derailed those hopes during the season.

Despite being sacked some 32 times over 10 games and not having a plethora of talent around him, Burrow posted a respectable 65.3% completion percentage, passing for 2,688 yards with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.

The NFL is very much a “what have you done for me lately” type of league, and quarterbacks who are drafted early are surrounded by lofty expectations to turn poor franchises around. This is despite the fact that there is plenty of evidence to suggest that just about any quarterback entering the league would greatly benefit from sitting on the bench for at least a year as they make the transition.

So the fact Burrow has already accomplished as much as he has this early on given the situation he entered as a rookie and the amount of adversity he’s gone up against in a short period of time makes him that much more impressive.

Future Super Bowl skepticism surrounding the Bengals

All of this catches the eye and gives plenty of reason for Burrow to receive a high level of recognition, but some are still hesitant to call him one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Why is this, and what is it going to take for a unanimous opinion to be formed that he is one of the best in the league at the position?

One could argue he’s already done enough to receive that honor and in the books of some analysts, he’s achieved it. After all, he did play an integral part in giving Cincinnati its first postseason run since 2015 and its first playoff win since 1991, which was previously the longest drought in the NFL.

But for the skeptics to come around, perhaps it’s going to take a larger sample size. Everything that Burrow has accomplished to this point suggests that he’s a steady riser. He hit the ground running at LSU when he was named the starter and never looked back — Burrow hasn’t really had what anyone would call a “down year” since he took the reins for the Tigers during that 2018 season. Give it one or two seasons of consistent production on Burrow’s part and another postseason appearance, and the number of people still unsure of Burrow’s long-term success will decrease dramatically.

In sports, there are several events that don’t necessarily correlate with one another. That factors in for Burrow in regards to the Bengals’ Super Bowl appearance in 2022.

Dan Marino lost a Super Bowl in his second year as a starter. Marino never made it back to another Super Bowl. After the Bengals lost Super Bowl LVI, the social media response was that Burrow is destined for a similar fate.

In all reality, this doesn’t make any real sense with nothing factual or statistical to substantiate that thought process other than the fact it happened to one quarterback in the past — and history doesn’t always repeat itself.

Move over Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow is already elite

Outside of the tape that shows just how incredible of a mental processor and how gifted of a passer Burrow is overall, the quarterback has stood out on the stat sheet in numerous ways entering just his third year in the league. He totals four games with at least 400 passing yards since 2020. That’s the second-most among NFL quarterbacks, tied with Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (4) and behind only Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys (5).

70.4% completion, 4,611 yards, 34 TD, 14 INT, 108.3 QB rating

Joe Burrow stats (2021)

One of his best performances last season came when he threw for 525 passing yards in the 41-21 win over the Baltimore Ravens, good for the fourth-most passing yards in a single NFL game in history.

No shortage of firepower for Joe Burrow in 2022

Moving forward, things look good for Burrow heading into 2022 and beyond. The offense is clicking and his team is just coming off an appearance on the biggest stage the sport has to offer, merely a handful of plays away from winning its first Super Bowl in history. The Bengals did a fine job rebuilding their offensive line in free agency by bringing in three new additions to join Jonah Williams and Jackson Carman. There’s also no shortage of firepower on the offense with wide receivers like Ja’marr Chase and Tee Higgins along with running back Joe Mixon.

“Going into last year, we knew we were good, but I think going into the playoffs, we knew we could win but we weren’t really sure what it took. We just went out there and played really hard and together as a team, and it worked out. Now, we know what it takes and we have that experience in our back pockets going forward.”

Joe Burrow on expectations heading into 2022 season, via ESPN

This newfound sense of stability on offense as Burrow only continues to get better allowed the Bengals to go defense-first in the 2022 NFL Draft, adding talent to be excited about that rounds out their team well like safety Dax Hill (Michigan), cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt (Nebraska) and defensive lineman Zachary Carter (Florida) in the first three rounds.

There is confidence to be had in all of this, and the quarterback knows it.

Related: Cincinnati Bengals 2022 schedule and predictions