CINCINNATI — Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow enters the NFL with high expectations. The No. 1 pick is expected to turn around a franchise that has had four straight losing seasons and hasn't won a playoff game in nearly three decades (Jan. 7, 1991).
Former Bengals Pro Bowler T.J. Houshmandzadeh believes Burrow will have a positive impact on the players around him, including the offensive line.
"I don't care how great a coach is, the players have to execute," Houshmandzadeh told Dan Hoard on the Bengals Booth Podcast. "If you don't have a guy that can execute what needs to be done, it doesn't matter what's being called. If you look at LSU... look at their offensive line. They didn't have anybody get drafted if I'm not mistaken in the first two rounds, but they were considered one of the better lines in college football. And yeah they played well, but Joe's pocket presence and his ability to slide, step up and just kinda maneuver in the pocket — he helped those guys out."
Offensive line coach Jim Turner said the same thing about Burrow. The Bengals are hoping that the 23-year-old can put his athleticism and natural instincts to good use in the pocket this season.
The 2019 Heisman Trophy winner has worked out with some of his teammates since reporting for training camp last week. Houshmandzadeh expects Burrow's leadership ability to have a positive impact on the Bengals.
"He has a sternness about him. Just a natural leader, man," he said. "He's not gonna let anybody run over him and I don't think anybody will try to run over him just because of the way he carries himself. He's gonna command respect right away and that's what the Bengals need."
Houshmandzadeh, who led the NFL with 112 receptions in 2007, believes the Bengals have the talent to exceed expectations this season. He hopes the young linebackers can get up to speed sooner rather than later, but thinks Cincinnati as one of the more talented rosters in the NFL.
"I really believe the Bengals have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball," Houshmandzadeh said. "When you look at their team — skill players — from receivers to running backs, tights ends and quarterback. You can look across the league and say the Bengals matchup with anybody skill player wise. Now if this offensive line can come together. You get Jonah Williams back, who missed his entire rookie year. If they can come together, the Bengals can surprise some people."
Time will tell if Houshmandzadeh is right, but the Bengals skill players look great on paper. How many top picks start with A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Joe Mixon, John Ross, Tee Higgins and Auden Tate?
Burrow has a plethora of weapons at his disposal. The Bengals will be much improved in 2020 if the offensive line can hold up its' end of the bargain.
Listen to Hoard's entire conversation with Houshmandzadeh below.