Before tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow showed all the tools to be a franchise player in his first season. Now, on the verge of returning for Week 1, Burrow is receiving strong praise from one of the game’s most respected coaches.
Burrow, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, will take the field on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. It will be his first meaningful snaps since his devastating knee injury in Week 11 against the Washington Football Team.
It was a slow recovery for the Bengals’ star quarterback. Reports out of training camp were concerning as he showed discomfort early on. But as he gained confidence in his surgically-repaired knee, his throws got sharper. He later made a brief preseason debut and is ready for the opener.
Speaking to reporters before Sunday’s game, Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer heaped praise on Burrow and suggested he could be even better than Carson Palmer.
- Joe Burrow stats (2020): 2,688 passing yards, 65.3% completion rate, 89.8 passer rating, 13-5 TD-INT
“I have been extremely impressed with watching Burrow. This kid is competitive. He’s a heck of a scrambler. He’s got a big-time arm, he’s not afraid to throw the ball into tight windows. He seems to see things and get the ball off really quick. It looks like, I remember, Carson the way he could spin the ball. This guy probably will be better than him.”Minnesota Vikings HC on Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow, via Bengals.com
Zimmer doesn’t make comparisons often and he isn’t afraid to criticize players, even if it’s his own quarterback. But the veteran coach has been around the NFL for decades, including a stint as the Bengals’ defensive coordinator (2008-’13).
While Palmer isn’t a Hall of Famer, he was great for Cincinnati. Across seven seasons, he threw 154 touchdowns and racked up 22,694 passing yards in 97 starts. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, the No. 1 pick in the 2003 NFL Draft was even better with the Arizona Cardinals.
- Carson Palmer stats (2013-’16): 14,804 passing yards, 96 touchdowns, 62.6% completion rate, 92.0 passer rating
Palmer took a ton of hits during his NFL career, partially a result of playing behind the Bengals’ offensive line. Cincinnati has received plenty of criticism for not having better pass protection for Burrow and it played a role in his injury.
But the things that impress Zimmer most are Burrow’s toughness and his ability to scramble, the latter skill being what could make him even better than Palmer.
“He’s a better scrambler, but I’ve been so impressed with the toughness. He will take a shot, scramble and dive or the first down. Run a quarterback draw. All the things he does. I think y’all hit big on that one.”Minnesota Vikings HC on Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow, via Bengals.com
With a great receiving corps around him, the weapons are in place for Burrow to thrive if he has time to throw. All the physical tools are there to be a perennial Pro Bowl quarterback and the face of this franchise for years to come. Ultimately, the future of this team all rests on the front office to help Burrow achieve his potential.