6 major takeaways from Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season

Joe Burrow, NFL Draft
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Burrow can be really good, but needs time

For a brief moment on Sunday afternoon, the world nearly got to see the extent of Burrow-mania. The excitement around the Bengals’ first-overall draft pick and presumed franchise savior was already in maximum overdrive in Cincinnati before the team even took the field, but on Sunday, it nearly hit a fever-pitch when Burrow came ‘oh so painfully close’ to pulling off a last-second come from behind victory. 

If Burrow could pull off the comeback, if AJ Green wasn’t called for offensive pass interference after hauling in what looked like a game-winning touchdown, if Bengals’ kicker Randy Bullock could have hit the last-second field goal to send the game into overtime, things might be different today. Cincinnati might have put together a parade for their rookie quarterback. They might be writing songs about him and spinning tall tales of his bravery.

But that didn’t happen. What remains is a Bengals loss, along with the chance for us to look at Burrow’s performance without the lens of a miracle comeback. And how did he do? He did… fine. About how you would expect a rookie quarterback on 2019’s worst team to be.

He showed moments of the absolutely dumbfounding brilliance that earned him a Heisman Trophy at LSU. Taking off for a 23-yard touchdown for his first career score as a pro, leading his team down the field as calmly and effortlessly as possible on that almost game-winning drive. At times, he looked the part. And at other times, he looked like a struggling rookie– and that’s fine!

Burrow’s poor decision on that shovel pass interception is fine. The fact that four of his first-half drives ended in three-and-outs is fine. No passing touchdowns in the entire game is also fine. Burrow is a rookie, playing for a team that struggled last year, in a year where a global pandemic shortened the offseason. 

Give Burrow some time. He showed how special he can be as an NFL quarterback against the Chargers. Just give him a year or two to get there.