CINCINNATI — The Bengals are in a tough position. Their roster is full of new faces, including a rookie quarterback that is going to start, a young offensive line that needs to develop and multiple free agent additions that haven't set foot in Paul Brown Stadium yet.
Getting the team up to speed and comfortable with one another is going to be challenging. Head coach Zac Taylor isn't going to get four preseason games to work out some of the issues that the team is bound to have this season. Instead, they will have just 14 padded practices before their Week 1 matchup against the Chargers.
The greatest player in team history thinks the virtual offseason is going to hurt rookie quarterback Joe Burrow and the rest of the young Bengals.
"I think it'll be very difficult," Anthony Muñoz told FOX19's Jeremy Rauch. "And then you add to it the offensive line because I think that as a unit, you need that too. So now you got a rookie quarterback, who I'm sure has the system down because from what I understand, he is a smart cookie, man. It's one thing having it mentally down and being able to see it a full speed."
"The offensive line... they're going to be seeing things they haven't seen for a while and they haven't seen them live, so I think that's going to add a little bit to having a rookie quarterback."
It's one thing to get Burrow up to speed, but the Bengals coaching staff needs to make sure 2019 first-round pick Jonah Williams is ready to start at left tackle. They're banking on second-year guard Michael Jordan to take a big step forward in his development.
It's a lot to ask of a young team and coaching staff.
The one thing everyone appears to agree on is the guy under center. Muñoz may wonder how the young guys are going to adjust to life in the NFL, but he thinks Burrow has the potential to be a great quarterback.
"From what I've heard — as a backup at Ohio State and as a starter at LSU — he's an amazing leader," Muñoz said. "Maybe he doesn't have the strongest arm. Well, if that's the case, it tells me he's very, very smart because he knows where all his guys are. Anticipation plays a big part for a quarterback that doesn't have a John Elway/Dan Marino arm. And one guy that was still a nightmare, who I believe didn't have the strongest arm, but was one of the best of all-time is Joe Montana. He just knew where to unload the ball to guys downfield. And that's the thing — check downs. He's not going to try to force it. He's going to take some positive gains.
"That shows me that he's [Burrow] very, very smart. Once he gets the entire system, he's not going to try to force things in. If there's a guy open, he's going to hit it. If it's a timing route, he's going to be there.
Burrow doesn't have the strongest arm, but there are plenty of NFL greats didn't have big arms — including Montana, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
Can he overcome an unprecedented offseason? The Bengals will [hopefully] get their answer beginning on Sept. 13 in their Week 1 matchup against the Chargers.