Joe Burrow has received plenty of praise since his record-setting season at LSU.
The 2019 Heisman Trophy winner impressed the Bengals during the pre-draft process and in their lone in-person meeting at the NFL Combine in February.
Burrow's rookie season has been unique to say the least. Instead of in-person minicamps and OTA's, the 23-year-old has had to learn the playbook at his house in Athens, Ohio. Even though he hasn't set foot in team facilities, Burrow has made a great impression on his coaches.
“He’s been great,” head coach Zac Taylor told SI's Albert Breer. “As advertised is the best way to put it. You can tell he spends a lot of time on his own being prepared with questions and he’s doing a great job taking ownership, which is important for a quarterback to do, and he’s doing everything he can to own this offense. Been really impressed with him, but not surprised.”
Burrow has also drawn praise from multiple teammates over the course of the offseason, even though he isn't working with them in person.
The virtual offseason forced Taylor and the rest of the coaching staff to get creative in their approach. They had to get Burrow prepared for the season, even though they couldn't be on the field together.
“We’d make a 20-play cutup, create a script off that cutup, and initially I’d just call a play out loud, so everybody could hear me," Taylor said.
Burrow would repeat the play and call the cadence. Then, each player would go through their responsibilities.
"‘O.K., center, Trey Hopkins, make the initial call here,'" Taylor continued. We’d be showing a clip from the end zone view, and he’d make his call, the appropriate linebacker. Then, ‘O.K., right tackle, who do you got? O.K., quarterback, any checks? No? O.K., call the cadence’
As Burrow's knowledge of the system grew, so did his responsibilities. Eventually Taylor muted his computer on Zoom, and FaceTimed Burrow. He’d give his rookie quarterback a play call. Burrow would listen to it and have to call it for his teammates like he would on the field.
“If you have Philip Rivers, I don’t know that you’d have to do that,” Taylor said. “But for the guys, our center had never heard Joe Burrow call a cadence before. He needed to hear his voice, and I needed to hear it, so you could make the corrections that he can work on all summer."
The Bengals are a much different group than they were last season. The coaches and the players appear to be much more confident in their ability to have a successful year.
"We were able to get a lot accomplished that way," Taylor said. "I feel really good coming out of it that we used every second they allotted us and got a lot of work done.”