NFL Playoffs 2023: How Joe Burrow Breaks Defenses With His Thoughts

Cease me if you happen to’ve heard this story earlier than.

The Cincinnati Bengals make the playoffs, however face the query of how far they’ll go because of the battle within the offensive line and whether or not they can shield quarterback Joe Burrow.

Final yr, these struggles have been evident within the Bengals’ Divisional Spherical victory over the Tennessee Titans. Regardless of the win, Burrow was fired 9 instances, a playoff document. Regardless of this, the Bengals discovered a solution to advance to Tremendous Bowl LVI. Cincinnati misplaced that recreation to the Los Angeles Rams, and Burrow was fired seven instances within the loss.

These struggles inspired the Bengalis to rebuild their offensive line within the low season. Three new faces have been added throughout free company – proper fielder La’el Collins, middle Ted Karras and defenseman Alex Cappa – and Bengals defenseman Cordell Volson who slipped into the left again place.

However with the Bengalis needing to move upstate New York to tackle the Buffalo Payments on this yr’s divisional spherical, defending Burrow is once more on the prime of their to-do listing.


As a result of a few of these new faces are battered, Collins tore ligaments in his knee within the Bengals’ Christmas Eve victory over the New England Patriots and the top of the season. Cappa injured his ankle in Week 18 and didn’t play within the Wild Card win over the Baltimore Ravens. Throughout this win, left ahead Jonah Williams suffered a dislocated kneecap and can be uncertain concerning the recreation in opposition to Buffalo.

So the Bengals face the prospect of beating Payments three offensive linemen beginning, with a visit to the AFC Championship recreation on the road.

Nonetheless, they’ve an enormous alignment, even when confronted with such a prospect

I will bury myself.

Third-year quarterback pocket administration is already a legend and has been mentioned by analysts a lot smarter than me. For instance, Dan Orlowski from ESPN highlighted after Week 18 how properly Burrow handles the strain in his pocket with out struggling a failure of his mechanics. That is teaching tape for the place.

Burrow’s pocket administration abilities have been initially going to be the subject of this text. Dive into how properly Burrow strikes within the pocket and creates house together with his ft, and the way these abilities have been the roadmap for Cincinnati to beat struggles within the offensive line, similar to they did final season.

Generally, nonetheless, the proof leads you down a unique path.

Whereas Burrow’s capability to deal with strain in his pocket is spectacular, there’s one thing else price noting about him this season.

How efficient he’s at getting the ball out rapidly earlier than any strain has an opportunity to materialize.

Final season, in accordance with Subsequent technology statistics, Burrow was tenth within the NFL in time to shoot, averaging simply 2.69 seconds from snap to launch within the common season. Because the playoffs continued and Burrow was beneath strain, that quantity started to say no. For instance, throughout this divisional spherical win over the Titans, Burrow averaged simply 2.54 seconds from snap to launch, the second-fastest amongst quarterbacks this weekend.

By the point Tremendous Bowl LVI arrived, Burrow’s throw time had dropped to 2.41 seconds.

This development continued into the 2022 season. All through the season, Burrow’s common throw time was one of many quickest within the league, and by the top of the season, Burrow completed second, with a throw time of solely 2.55 seconds, behind Tom Brady.

Final week in opposition to the Ravens, Burrow averaged simply 2.38 seconds from snap to pitch, which was the quickest of any level guard on a wild card weekend.

Once more, the method to this piece was to focus on Burrow’s pocket transfer and the way vital it could be to the playoff spherical for Cincinnati. It is going to actually proceed to matter, however the extra I studied Burrow this season, the extra his fast choices mixed together with his timing, rhythm and anticipation as a passer stood out. Explosive arts? Third down conversions? As a rule, it was the mix of those traits that led to an awesome recreation for the Bengals.

Take this completion in opposition to the Pittsburgh Steelers from Week 11:

On this recreation, the Steelers present that Burrow has two excessive ranges within the secondary with three passing threats on the attacking proper. In response, quarterback strikes the back-running Samaje Perine to the fitting facet to assist shield.

Simply earlier than the snap, nonetheless, the Steelers begin turning their protection right into a single excessive, and because the recreation progresses, they put the strain on. Pittsburgh defeats the Degree 2 Defender together with Auto Defender Arthur Maulet.

Even beneath this strain, Burrow pairs up with Trenton Irwin on the beginning route alongside the touchline to maneuver the chains. The ball slips out of Burrow’s palms within the blink of an eye fixed because the QB makes use of a three-degree drop from the shotgun set-up, and when he hits the third step, the ball is on its solution to the goal.

Burrow’s capability to decipher defenses and browse the fitting message virtually immediately is big for the Cincinnati Offensive, each by way of overcoming the strain and breaking the connection. On this subsequent instance, from Week 7 in opposition to the Atlanta Falcons, be aware Burrow’s timing, rhythm, and predictions, and he hits a tour break in opposition to Quarters protection:

It is one other three-stage shotgun drop, and timing is impeccable on this end for Tee Higgins. Burrow hits his sinking depth, takes a step on the catch and pulls the ball out as Higgins clears the underside again and earlier than the break up safety can react. With this timing, rhythm and anticipation, the Bengalis create the following massive recreation within the passing recreation.

This subsequent instance is from Cincinnati’s Week 12 win over the Tennessee Titans. Earlier than the sport, Tennessee reveals the vary of two highs, however proper after the snap, they ship lightning from the fitting slot and switch right into a single excessive. Tennessee solely strikes 4 as they knock the sting defender away from lightning, however the auto blitz has a gradual run in Burrow.

Once more, his fast resolution beats the strain and throws a seam path to Hayden Hurst’s tight finish to maneuver the chains:

If the ball is out earlier than the blitz can go dwelling, it is often good for the offense.

As famous above, Burrow’s fast decision-making continued throughout Cincinnati’s wildcard victory over the Ravens. On this subsequent instance, the Bengals will face the third and tenth on the Baltimore 33-yard line. They put Burrow within the shotgun and ran three diagonal routes on the left facet of the assault from the journey formation. On the fitting facet of the sphere, Ja’Marr Chase is remoted and follows a easy hitchhiking route.

Baltimore pressurizes by sending in defender Patrick Queen, however as soon as once more you see a three-point drop, Burrow takes a fast shot with really feel and anticipation, and the result’s a giant attacking play:

Marcus Peters covers this route virtually in addition to you, however as a result of Burrow makes this throw on time and in rhythm, Chase has an opportunity to safe the maintain after which transfer on Peters within the open. So the fast throw not solely negates the flash, however provides Chase an opportunity to alter the throw from six yards to 13 yards.

(Such performs are why it’s typically mentioned that catch distance is, at the very least partially, a quarterback stat.)

The final instance we are able to take a look at is Sunday’s win over the Ravens once more. That is Hurst’s third-quarter end that began a brief landing drop from QB himself. Earlier than snapping, the Ravens present Burrow a one-high cowl, however they do an excellent job of masking their intentions, turning to two-high to the fitting as the sport progresses.

Irrelevant. As a result of watch how rapidly Burrow reads the spin and throws to Hurst on a breakout route, simply out of attain of the defender beneath and lengthy earlier than the safety can react:

When a quarterback makes these sorts of fast reads and throws, it is arduous to go dwelling.

Additionally it is troublesome to react within the secondary.

That is the job dealing with Leslie Frazier and defending the Payments this weekend. Discovering a solution to gradual Burrow down a bit, get him off the ball and reset, and provides them time to make fast passes to allow them to go dwelling in opposition to a devastated offensive line.

However as we have seen this season, it is a actually robust job.

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