With consistency, accuracy, and aggression, Joe Burrow has gone from an exciting NFL prospect to an elite quarterback.
Joe Burrow is taking the NFL by storm as one of the hottest young quarterbacks in the league, but this Sunday, he’ll encounter a Super Bowl- and MVP-winner in Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs. Mahomes once held the crown as the “next greatest QB” until he graduated to invariant elite expectations. However, the Bengals’ QB is better than most in the NFL, and at the age of 25, Burrow has joined Mahomes in elite ranks.
Burrow’s greatness emanates from his competitive spirit on the field. His outstanding leadership qualities and synergistic connection with former college teammate Ja’Marr Chase are also impressive. Nevertheless, Burrow’s game has aspects that rank better than all QBs, which is being downright overlooked.
Burrow Through the Air
The Cincinnati Bengals have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Simply put, “Joe Brrr” has the time that he needs to succeed, inside or outside of the pocket.
Statistically, he doesn’t crack the top five for times hurried in the pocket. Nor is he high on the list of the number of times being blitzed or having to scramble on a designed pass play. Sure, Burrow has great pockets to throw from under center. Regardless, his accurate cannon of an arm is what makes him unique.
Not only has Burrow thrown for 2,332 air yards (a measure of how many yards the football travels in the air, from the line of scrimmage) on completed passes, but he’s also laser-accurate. The Bengals quarterback ranks No. 1 in the entire league in on target percentage at a staggering 82.8%. This means that all but 17.2% of Burrow’s throws hit the hands of an intended receiver. Mahomes ranks 11th in that category.
The Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase Connection
Burrow also thrives on his relationship with Chase. In the regular season, Burrow threw for 4,611 yards and 31.03% of those yards were to Chase (1411 yards). Those connection percentages exceed the QB to WR tandems of elite players. The likes of Tom Brady and Mike Evans, Justin Herbert and Mike Williams, and the explosive bond between Mahomes and Tyreek Hill all fall short of Burrow and Chase.
Sports Info Solutions says Burrow’s “catchable pass” percentage stands at 90.1%. While Chase is one of the most electrifying young wide receivers, he also gets the benefit of catching laser-guided footballs. Burrow has the ability to throw in tight windows, and as long as both players remain together, the sky is the limit for what they could become.
Accuracy and All-Time Greatness
Usually, high accuracy comes with timidness or a lack of aggression, but not with Burrow. In fact, according to next-gen statistics from the league, Burrow is the most aggressive quarterback in the entire NFL after Tua Tagovailoa. The aggression stat tracks the amount of passing tries a quarterback attempts into close coverage, where a defender is within a yard of the receiver.
The differences between Burrow and Tagovailoa are accuracy, touchdowns, and passer ratings. In the regular season, Burrow nearly doubled the number of yards Tua threw (4,611 to 2,653), more than doubled his touchdowns (34 to 16), and had a passer rating of 108.3 to Tua’s 90.1.
Burrow has the aggression of gunslingers like Bret Favre and Dan Marino at such an early stage of his career, while maintaining the accuracy of all-time greats like Drew Brees and Kurt Warner. However, he’ll have to be consistent with his play over a few years to carve his name as a permanent fixture among the league’s best.
What Burrow is doing now at quarterback is unprecedented. If he can remain this accurate and aggressive, he’ll graduate to superstar status.