It was a surreal weekend for Joe Burrow.
The quarterback went from being on top of the world after signing the NFL’s most lucrative contract in history, to having the worst performance of his career hours later.
Burrow went 14 of 31 for a career-low total of 82 passing yards in the Bengals’ first loss of the season.
What is more telling is the fact that he didn’t throw a single pass longer than 10 yards for the first time in his career.
Burrow’s very bad weekend
Earlier in the week, during Kickoff Thursday, the team tried to send a message to the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes, by announcing Burrow’s contract extension just as Kansas City was kicking off their season at Arrowhead.
The move was transparent. They were demanding a share of the spotlight at the top of the NFL and wanted to keep pushing the narrative of Burrow being Mahomes’ biggest rival for football dominance, a la the next Brady-ManningAFC rivalry.
As for Burrow in particular, there are a number of ways Bengals fans can see this.
Questions still linger about the state of his calf strain after he claimed it was feeling “good enough” to play with. Was his leg bothering him throughout the game? Will he recover well enough to take on the mighty Ravens next week in their second straight division matchup? Is that why coach Zac Taylor benched him in the end?
Others will be swayed into thinking that the rainy weather in Cincy and him having to wear a glove as he struggled to grip the ball was to blame for his poor execution. Conditions that also affected Deshaun Watson’s performance (16-29 for 154, a TD and an INT).
Some are even daring to say that his mental game was lacking and he wasn’t prepared for the pressure of being the highest-paid player in NFL history earning a reported $55 million dollars per year.
While all of the premises are true to some degree, it all comes down to one simple fact. And Joe said it best after the game:
Obviously, not up to our standard, not up to my standard
It’s how you get back up
The best thing for the Bengals to do is turn the page on Sunday’s disaster as quickly as possible. Own their mistakes, patch up their communication issues on offense, and work on next Sunday’s game plan to face Lamar Jackson and the Ravens at home.
Now is the time to bounce back and show the football world you can walk the walk after talking the talk. There won’t be any valid excuses on if things go sour again. Week 1 doesn’t define you, but Week 2 will expose you.
One thing is losing in Week 1 when conditions are not ideal, when nerves are high, and when you’re not 100% physically.
Next Sunday nothing but a W will put things on the right course for the Bengals.
Will Joe deliver?