The Joe Burrow Injury: What A Healthy Joe Burrow Could Do For Cincinnati In 2021: In many aspects, 2020 sucked in terms of football. No fans in the stands, many games inconveniently rescheduled, teams obviously having a hard time adjusting to it and not performing the way they should. One of the biggest bummers of the 2020 NFL season happened in Week 11, third quarter of the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Football Team game.
Almost in his own endzone, Bengals former Heisman winner rookie QB Joe Burrow threw a deep pass on third-and-two. Trying to avoid getting sacked, the throw attempt left his body in an awkward position, where one defender was hitting him high one way while the body of another was pushing Burrow’s lower body another.
This hit, which we have seen many times, resulted in a season ending ACL and MCL tear, while also damaging his PCL. Not only was Burrow’s season obviously over, many wondered if his playing career might take a significant hit.
It took until December for even Burrow to start walking again, and it is fair to say that Burrow might not be healthy enough to start in Week 1 of the 2021 season. Hopefully, we will have some actual preseason games in 2021, which might give the team a chance to seriously evaluate Burrow’s game day health.
When Will Burrow Come Back?
With a ALC and MCL tear, along with damage to his PCL, the average person that isn’t an NFL player would easily take a year to fully recover from this type of injury. This makes the injury to Burrow not only devastating, but the fact it came during Week 11 possibly damaging to the Bengals 2021 season.
While there is little doubt Burrow will return in some point in 2021, the timing of it could mean everything to a team that has won four games in the last two years without Burrow starting. The Bengals will again have a high draft pick, while possibly not even starting the 2021 season without their previous number one pick.
To give a frank assessment, it would be considered surprising if Burrow was in playing shape in time to open the season in 2021. What will most likely happen is that Burrow will be the official backup, getting rest while being ready to play if he absolutely has to. Then, whenever the Bengals will have their bye week, Burrow will most likely be healthy enough to start again.
Even though Burrow only won two games in the first 11 weeks of 2020, he was able to produce solid fantasy numbers for both him and the people around him. Fantasy owners across the world groaned as they saw the value of Geo Bernard, Joe Mixon, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd plummet after Burrow’s injury.
If Burrow isn’t expected to play for the first month or so of 2021, there should be serious doubt about drafting Bengals skill players in early rounds of drafts. Even fantasy surprises like Tee Higgins will most likely take a statistical hit if Burrow isn’t throwing for a month or two.
Even Joe Mixon, considered a top 10ish fantasy RB before the 2020 season started, clearly suffered from the lack of Burrow after he came back from his own injury.
Place a big red mark next to every Bengals player before you draft them next year. They might be great in later rounds, because when Burrow comes back they should produce enough to justify being on your team. But be careful: if Burrow’s injury turns into a multi-month injury in 2021, you would be basically wasting early draft picks on players we know don’t perform well without a legit starting NFL QB.
Impact On 2022 Bengals
In 2021, the Bengals will have the 5th overall pick. There, they can either pick up a top offensive linemen (like Penei Sewell) or a top wideout to help Burrow. If Burrow is gone for a good chunk of 2021 though, the Bengals might again end up with a top 10 draft pick for 2022.
This might also result in turnover for the Bengals coaching staff. Zac Taylor is going into his third season as the Bengals head coach in 2021. Even with the excuse of losing his star QB, a third terrible season in a row could result in his firing.
Because of this, Burrow would have the joy of learning a new system in 2022, most likely causing the Bengals to start off slow, hurting both the fantasy and overall production of the team.
None of this is Burrow’s fault, who can blame a guy for being injured? But when a team invests so much into a number one draft pick, and an injury like this happens, the impact of that injury can last for years.