The Miami Dolphins will travel to Cincinnati this Sunday the 29th to take on the Bengals, and they’ll be welcoming back a budding NFL star and former college rival of Tua Tagovailoa-even if it’s in a “very limited” capacity.
November 22, 2020 was the last day that Joe Burrow stepped onto an NFL football field. In a game against the Washington Football Team, Burrow was caught in an unfortunate position while being hit in the backfield and tore his ACL, MCL, and partially tore his PCL. It was a devastating injury for the rookie quarterback and he’s had to gradually prepare himself physically and mentally to get back to this point.
Most football fans will of course be pulling for Burrow to have a successful drive (or two-maybe) as this offseason has been anything but smooth for the Cincinnati offense. Early reports from camp indicated that Burrow didn’t appear to be comfortable in the pocket and that he wasn’t as effective as he had been his rookie season. Questions have been asked about the health of his surgically repaired knee, but Burrow is convinced that it’s just mental.
"“I would say right now it’s a mental thing, I’m just getting back used to playing football again against top-level competition. Hopefully a couple more reps, a couple more days, we’ll get it back to my old self.”-Joe Burrow via Michael David Smith @PFT"
In addition to Burrow’s struggles, Cincinnati’s first round selection (no. 5 overall) Ja’Marr Chase has been stumbling through the majority of training camp and preseason. The initial concerns were that he wasn’t getting much separation in practice-which shouldn’t be a major surprise to anyone who watched him in college. Not to say he’s doomed in the NFL, but he’s never going to be an elite separator. Making matters worse, Chase has developed a bad case of the drops. He’s leading all preseason receivers in drops and that’s only on four targets (per PFF).
Chase is a talented player and it is way too early in his career to be writing him off. Unfortunately, that won’t change the fact that a lot of fans were calling for the Bengals to select Oregon tackle Penei Sewell after Burrow was lost for the 2020 season and these sorts of performances won’t silence that group.
Why the Miami Dolphins?
Both Chase and Burrow will be under the microscope for each snap they take on Sunday. This begs the question, why let those big snaps come against a well coached and talented defense like Miami’s? You probably won’t see all of the starting defense out there, but Chase isn’t going to have an easy go of things if he matches up against Nik Needham or Noah Igbinoghene either. This is the Bengal’s only home game of the preseason and things might not look very encouraging for the hometown fans.
That isn’t to say that Miami fans should be rooting specifically against Joe Burrow, or even count him out for that matter. The Miami Dolphins’ fan base has recent experience with their quarterback being hounded from all angles after struggling to come back from a career threatening injury. While Burrow has been getting every benefit of the doubt that Tua was denied, that isn’t Joe Burrow’s fault.
There is a world where both Burrow and the Miami Dolphins can perform well, and that’s what we should be hoping for. It’s the preseason-the outcome of the game is irrelevant, so lets welcome Joe Burrow back to an NFL field and wish him luck-just not too much.