Another First Overall Pick, Joe Burrow, will Challenge the Eagles this Week

Ed Kracz

PHILADELPHIA - It’s not often the Eagles face a quarterback drafted first overall in back-to-back weeks.

This will be one of those weeks, as the Eagles will host Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, a week after hosting Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams last week.

In trying to avoid an 0-3 start, the Eagles must do a better job of defending Burrow than they did against Goff, who had his way with Philadelphia in throwing for three touchdowns and 267 yards with 20 completions in 27 attempts for a passer rating of 142.1 in last week's 37-19 LA win.

Burrow, of course, is just a rookie, but he hasn’t played like one in his first two starts. The first overall pick this past spring has completed nearly 62 percent of his throws, and he’s thrown a lot, attempting 97 passes already in two games, completing 60 of those for 509 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.

By comparison, Eagles QB Carson Wentz is completing 58.8 percent of this throws (50-for-85) with 512 yards, two touchdowns, and four interceptions.

At LSU in 2019, Burrow won a national championship and the Heisman Trophy.

“You can see why he was number one, you can tell why he won a championship,” said Eagles DE Brandon Graham. “He looks out there like he’s getting comfortable with the offense. They don’t expect him to do too much. He looks good back there and we have our hands full. We have to make sure we don’t take him lightly.”

The Eagles have two players on their roster from LSU – linebacker Duke Riley and safety Jalen Mills. Neither player, however, overlapped during Burrow’s time there.

“I watched him,” said Mills earlier in the week. “I’m a big alumni at my school. I love my school. But the biggest thing now that you see for him is that the progression. You see him at the line making checks, as a rookie that’s very, very impressive.

"Also, his pocket awareness. He’s moving out of simple sacks that you see younger quarterbacks not moving their feet, or if they don’t have awareness, guys will grab them and put them to the ground. I think the biggest thing for me, watching him on film, is his pocket awareness and actually making checks at the line of scrimmage.”

Burrow and Wentz have some similar attributes, one is they both try to keep a play alive for as long as possible.

For Burrow, it has led to him taking six sacks. Of course, his offensive line doesn’t have three Pro Bowl starters on it like the Eagles, but even with that, Wentz has been sacked eight times.

“We have to make sure we rush him good because he likes to run around back there,” said Graham. “He’s pretty fast, got a great arm, but I do know that the pressure definitely will get to him when it’s there. We have to make sure we disrupt him the whole game.”

VIDEO: Brandon Graham talks about the challenge of playing Joe Burrow

Strangely enough, Bengals coach Zac Taylor believes that not having any OTAs or minicamp was beneficial for Burrow.

"In a lot of ways, it’s a good thing that we didn’t have OTAs," said Taylor. "If you think back, usually the draft is late April, and you try to cram a playbook in real quick, and they’re out on the field May 10 or 11, performing against Pro Bowl players on defense. So they don’t get a chance to fully comprehend the playbook. 

"They finally get a chance to take a breath when OTAs end and reflect over the month of July. Then you’re ready for training camp. The approach we had was different. We had really two months to just watch tape and teach the installs. So then you look at training camp, and you really had 2 weeks of walkthroughs. So the first time, he actually had to go perform, he felt really confident in what he knew. Now he hadn't done it live against real defenses. But in some ways, we just chose to look at the benefits of that. "

Like the Eagles, the Bengals are also 0-2. It will be 10 days since they last played, losing to the Browns, 35-30, on Thursday night.

“Everyone is itching for the first win and it’s getting time to get that win and everyone feels it in the building,” said Burrow. 

“There’s urgency and we’re going to have a really good week of practice. There are 14 games left, so we’re not panicking by any means but we know we have to play better to get wins. I think I took a big step personally in the last game. Felt super comfortable back there, we played well as an offense. Not well enough to win but we took some steps on Thursday in the right direction.”

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