Bengals breakdown: Burrow still expected to be among best QBs in 2022

Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez

Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez

Coming off an NFL Comeback Player of the Year campaign, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is only expected to get better in his third season.

A lot of that has to do with expectations for his improved offensive line to provide more time in the pocket and keep him upright more often, but he also won’t be dealing with the things that attributed to a slow start last year while coming back from December 2020 surgery to repair ACL and MCL tears.

Burrow said he had a fully healthy offseason and is looking forward to gearing up for the season when training camp begins July 27.

Before then, let’s take a look back at Burrow’s 2021 performance and where he is expected to stack up among other quarterbacks in the league this season with help from data by Pro Football Focus, plus a look at the backup options on the roster.


Starter: Joe Burrow

Backup: Brandon Allen

Also in the mix: Jake Browning


2021 stats: 4,611 yards passing (6th most in NFL), 34 TDs (eighth most), 14 INTs, 70.4 percent pass completion rate, 108.3 rating, 51 sacks, 10-6 record

PFF grades for 2021: Burrow earned an overall grade of 91.8 and ranked first of 37 quarterbacks that qualified for grades from PFF. He also earned the top passing grade at 91.1 and was 12th of 19 quarterbacks in run grade. His 2020 grade was a 75.1, ranking him 19th of 38 quarterbacks.

Other notable PFF rankings: Pro Football Focus had Burrow ranked 17th in its list of starting quarterbacks most affected by pressure, meaning 16 other quarterbacks showed a more significant difference in performance when given a clean pocket, compared to a pressured pocket. Burrow earned a 94.6 passing grade from a clean pocket (best of the 32 starters last year) and was 33.2 points worse in a pressured pocket, but still recorded a 92.4 passer rating when defenses were collapsing on him. He completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 1,142 yards and nine of his touchdowns in those situations (8.6 yards per pressured attempt).

Where he ranks in 2022: Pro Football Focus ranks Burrow as the fourth best quarterback under 30 year old. Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes is No. 1, followed by Buffalo’s Josh Allen and the Chargers’ Justin Herbert. Burrow ranks just above Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson.


2021 stats: 149 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 50 percent pass completion rate over 34 attempts, 0-1 record in six appearances and one start

PFF grades for 2021: Allen’s playing time was limited and his only start was a game where he didn’t have hardly any of the offensive weapons at his disposal while the Bengals were resting starters for the playoffs in the finale, but he earned just a 42.3 overall grade and 41.7 passing grade. He was better in rushing with a grade of 63.2.

*No 2022 projections for Allen available


PFF analyst Ben Lindsey recently ranked every roster in the NFL and had the Bengals’ listed with the eighth best projected starting lineup. The biggest strength he noted was no surprise: The passing game, especially when it comes to the Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase connection.

“Cincinnati’s passing game blossomed after reuniting Joe Burrow with his former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase,” Linsey wrote. “Vertical plays were Burrow’s Achilles’ heel as a rookie, as he completed just nine of 48 attempts thrown 20-plus yards downfield for just one touchdown. Throwing to Chase alone in 2021, Burrow completed 15 of 34 attempts thrown 20-plus yards downfield with eight touchdown passes. That connection torched NFL defenses in the same way it did SEC defenses in 2019.”

Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr praised Burrow as a big reason the Bengals are one of 12 teams he thinks could actually win Super Bowl LVII.

“Burrow is not the kind of quarterback who flames out,” Orr wrote. “Instead, he has the DNA of a Peyton Manning, who is perpetually going to will his way back into the tournament year after year. He is that good.”

This is the first in a series of pieces breaking down each position group for the Bengals. Coming Tuesday: Running backs.

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