Joe Burrow brings equal parts swagger and reckless into prime-time debut


Joe Burrow brings equal parts swagger and reckless into prime-time debut

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Is Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow ready for prime time? Yes, he is. And no, he isn’t.

The highlights-only impression of the first overall pick’s debut goes like this: “He’s good. He’s capable. The wins will come, especially if/when the Bengals have a kicker who won’t miss a chip shot while simultaneously injuring both calf muscles.”

The watched-the-game impression is different. Burrow has “it,” the undefinable quality that makes him a potential star player at the NFL level. He’s fearless. He lets it rip without hesitation. He runs the ball with courage and determination and a more-than-average amount of speed.

But there are concerns, at least based on his baptism by lightning bolt. Beyond his fair share of missed throws (then again, even #Tommy did that on Sunday), Burrow had three what-the-eff? moments against the Chargers where, in his desire to make something happen, he crossed the line that divides swagger and reckless.

Before a fourth-quarter boneheaded shovel pass thrown directly to Chargers defensive end Melvin Ingram (the Bengals were in range to tie the game, assuming Randy Bullock‘s leg and/or calves would have complied), Burrow had a pair of head-scratching moments on the same first-half drive, trying a similar impromptu shovel pass that wasn’t intercepted (or caught) and later opting for a desperation lateral to running back Joe Mixon that became a live ball that wasn’t recovered by the defense before it ended up out of bounds.

There’s a separate concern as it relates to Burrow. He makes little or no effort to get out of harm’s way. As a result, Burrow took plenty of hits while trying to pass and trying to run. If he keeps getting hit, he’ll eventually get hurt.

All in all, the glass is more than half full. But anyone who watches tonight’s game (and everyone should) should be bracing for Burrow making a big mistake and/or taking a big hit as he struggles to tries in only his second NFL start to strike the right balance between confidence and delusion.

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