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Why the Lions Need to Worry about Bengals QB Joe Burrow

Second-year quarterback Joe Burrow has had a productive start to the 2021 NFL season.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is about the closest I have seen to one of those old pitching machines they use in baseball during batting practice.

Do the Lions need to worry about him? Yes.

I can hardly count all the reasons why the Lions need to worry, as there are so many. But, let me try to unpack them.

Burrow plays well-beyond his years. He is so smooth-looking in the pocket, that he is like the right-handed version of another QB who played for the Bengals many years ago, Boomer Esiason.

Burrow does not at all look like a typical second-year QB who missed time with a major injury last season. Burrow's ball-handling skills in the pocket and play-action fake are as smooth as "French Silk" ice cream. He has somewhat limited mobility, but enough to slide around and buy some time.

Burrow's delivery is just as smooth and natural-looking, as everything else about him. Burrow himself is smooth - - as is his personality. He plays with a mixture of patience and confidence. He also runs the offense with a very calming presence and tempo.

He throws an easy ball to catch, with a classy style of touch, and he often places the football only where his receivers can catch it. Burrow has thrown six interceptions to date, but he is anything but reckless. He is also tough as nails, and he could not care less about contact. If it is fourth-and-2, he will go and get it.

Burrow can deliver successfully at every route level (short, medium and deep), and he will bite you with the long ball, when you least expect it. 


Rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase -- who also used to play with Burrow at LSU -- has paired back up with him in Cincinnati to form a dynamic duo. Just another reason, as I continue to count the reasons why Detroit needs to worry about the league's 13th-ranked QB, in terms of total QBR.

Lions head man Dan Campbell knows that his defense will have its hands full with Burrow Sunday. 

“You see a good football player. You see a guy that you can tell is -- he’s getting them into the right play, he knows exactly what he’s looking for, what he’s been coached to do," Campbell told reporters Wednesday. "And, the run game, his run-game checks, the pass game, they do play a lot in empty so he can see it, and he sees it very well. And, he knows where to go with the football, and he’s got some weapons. He’s got about three or four answers that he can go to by just the look, and he can throw the heck out of the ball. He’s a pretty accurate quarterback, he’s got poise in the pocket, he’s got the ability to scramble. He’s not a running quarterback, but he’s got the ability to scramble with his eyes down field, and he’s got pocket awareness." 

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I've reviewed film of Burrow in three games this season, against Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Green Bay, and the conclusion is that Burrow is consistently good. 

Burrow is completing 71.1% of his passes. He is seeing the field well, and he has taken what defenses have given him. Burrow has this killer instinct in his eyes, and he is methodical as he attacks a secondary. He will keep coming at you without blinking, regardless of the score. 

He can also really exploit vulnerabilities and areas of weakness. If a defender slips, stumbles, falls or messes up somehow, Burrow will see it.

Burrow is good - - yeah, he is that good.

For a team like Detroit that is reeling at 0-5, with a defense ranked 25th in the league and giving up an average of 27.6 points per game, this could be bad ... really bad for the boys in Honolulu Blue. 

Burrow will destroy safeties that are reluctant and hesitant. That does not bold well for either of Detroit's safeties Tracy Walker and Will Harris, who have been been part of a rotation with veteran Dean Marlowe the early part of the season. 

Burrow can pick apart a zone defense the way kids play the classic game, "Operation." Playing man is the other option, but even then, Burrow can usually throw through what amounts to one of those old swinging tires in the backyard.

Burrow has that look and feel to him. He could have played in any generation, and he probably will play for another generation. He is efficient, and he has a quick release. That does not bold well, either, for a defense which does rank sixth in the NFL in sack percentage (which sounds good), but is only getting sacks 7.53% of the time.

The best bet is not to let Burrow sit back and play what amounts to darts at a bar, while picking Detroit's secondary apart. 

Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn is going to have to gamble and attack. Detroit is going to need to blitz Burrow to no end, if it hopes to have any chance, because Burrow does take a lot of sacks. Burrow ranks sixth in the league in the category, having taken 14 sacks up to this point.

If Detroit can not get to Burrow, it will be forced to read, react and yes, worry about the man under center for the Bengals Sunday.