by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
It doesn't get much better for an ailing franchise than to draft a bona fide culture rearranger & football junkie at quarterback, have it pan out, and then all you have is time....time to build a staff around him, position title winning pieces at key spots on the roster....time to bring in favored targets, pursue highly coveted nuclear weapons who usually command a high price but now just wanna come ball.....time to win championships....not a championship....but championships.....
The Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks weren't exactly reeling when they brought in Pat Mahomes and Russell Wilson respectively, but their arrival ushered in a wild sea change within each franchise, produced a quick championship, and supplied endless future possibilities.
Well, if those two teams felt like they struck the lost secret of Curley's gold in finding those two serial winners, then Cincinnati's front office has to be in dreamland watching Joe Burrow lead their franchise and team.
Of course, Joe will say he's not leading a franchise, that he's just doing his job as quarterback, but Joe knows damn well he's the face, the future and the framework of the Cincinnati Bengals organization.
Over the past 10 months, there are some who have doubted the longevity of such an arrangement with Joe, worrying signs and dark clouds from his nasty leg and knee injuries vs Washington were being spun and thrust upon Burrow at his lowest moment, all to "prove" their callous point:
That Joe "wasn't good enough"...
He needed a squad of champions 3 deep in every position to lift him up to the status he'd acquired...right?
That Joe wasn't built to last in the NFL....
We heard it all throughout his recovery process....and maybe Joe did, too...
After a horrifying injury, Burrow has taken back his game in vicious, renegade fashion, the kind you have to love....the reason so many NFL Legends and Hall of Famers love the guy.
Burrow has been electric in 2021, throwing multiple TD passes in every game this season...the only quarterback to accomplish this feat; Joe has already topped his 10 game TD total from last year in just 7 outings, the former National Champion is getting sacked 0.8 fewer times per game, he's proven to be unbreakable in the face of another rough hit or sack, he's been routinely clutch on key downs, he's silenced doubts about his passing ability or arm strength by displaying all the throws in his ever-expanding arsenal, and alongside his new favorite target, former LSU extraordinaire Ja'marr Chase, Cincy is now at 5-2, leading both the AFC North and the entire AFC conference.
No....that is not a typo....the Bengals are for real, and the 2019 LSU contingent of Burrow & Chase are breaking out the goods.
Joe & co not only took down AFC North perennial powers Baltimore and Pittsburgh in stunning fashion, this unbelievable quarterback went toe to toe against Aaron Rodgers in a narrow 3 point defeat and has generally raised his game above his 2020 Rookie of the Year type performances.
Despite tossing 8 INTs so far, with 2 multi-INT games (throwing 3 vs Chicago), Burrow is just beginning to really heat up, letting his teammates like RB Joe Mixon take over games, rather than needing to play hero on every down.
But now, he can't resist airing it out to a wide open Ja'marr Chase, also fitting tight passes through the smallest of windows to Higgins, Boyd or another favorite target C.J Uzomah; the former #1 pick is smartly learning to side step pressures at will, instead of completely bailing on the pocket...he's able to extend plays more effectively, which is saying something after his unbelievable scrambling / second option theatrics last year.
Which is why we have to point out....
Joe is different this season....
Not just more intense...
It isn't merely his renewed swagger alongside LSU teammates Chase or Shelvin...
He's at peace in Cincy:
The former Heisman doesn't have to fight for changes, he doesn't have to demand anything of his teammates, he didn't have to beg his front office for Ja'marr Chase...
....they all know what is expected every day, and for the first time in the Bengals' history, team and front office are all on the same page: this organization gave Burrow the keys on the first day he took his seat at the wheel.
In peace, there is strength.
During 2020, Cincy may have been cruising along, yet in 2021 they've caught up to Joe's speed.....and they're flying.
1,956 PASSING YARDS
By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc
SHOUTOUTS: Michelle Bech! THANK YOU!