D.A.: Burrow Changes The Bengals’ Possibilities

It's too early to tell if Joe Burrow will become a Hall of Fame quarterback, D.A. says, but he makes the Bengals' present – and future – very exciting

Damon Amendolara
September 18, 2020 - 11:34 am

It’s impossible to know how Joe Burrow’s career will unfold after only eight quarters of football. However, Bengals fans should have more hope than ever their long regional nightmare is over. This was especially true Thursday night, when in a loss their quarterback was the most interesting part of the game. Burrow was harassed and hounded all night behind a leaky offensive line, yet still uncorked three touchdowns and showed comeback ability late. 

When Carson Palmer was drafted first overall in ‘03, Cincinnati seemed to have the man under center to erase 15 years of ineptitude. He was a winner, carrying a Heisman Trophy and big bowl games in tow. Palmer had a presence and an arm, something the Bengals lacked since Boomer Esiason left town a decade earlier. But Palmer’s career ended with a whimper, his knee never the same after the vicious injury against the Steelers in the playoffs. 

Andy Dalton was serviceable, and well-drafted rosters around him equated to a number of playoff appearances. The Bengals, though, comically never won any of those January games. Dalton was never good enough to push them over the top. But Dalton was actually a huge upgrade over much of the slop Cincy had calling signals over the years. A solidified quarterback like him was better than the alternative. David Klingler, Akili Smith and Jon Kitna were failed experiments in the ‘90s. Burrow is not just a place-holder, though. He represents something much different. 

The LSU gunslinger symbolizes a reason to hope beyond 9-7 and maybe pulling out a win in the Wild Card round. Fans in Southern Ohio have been tortured with good but not great teams. How can you get excited about even a playoff team when you know there’s a fatal flaw? Every regular-season win is a just a predecessor to January misery. Burrow struts into the franchise with the perfect marriage of two vital quarterback characteristics. He couldn’t get on the field at Ohio State, pushed down to fourth on the depth chart, forcing him to transfer just to play. This gave him humility, as Burrow never seems impressed with himself no matter how sublime his success. 

He made magic last season with perhaps the greatest quarterbacking in 125 years of collegiate football. To cap off an insanely productive year, he threw for 463 yards and scored six times in the National Championship romp. His 5,671 yards through the air were top-three ever. His 60 touchdown passes are the most all-time. This gave him confidence. No matter the deficit in the loss to the Browns, Burrow always seemed in control and assertive. 

It’s far too early to say that Burrow will soar to a Hall of Fame career. Just before his knee blew out on that cold day versus the Steelers in January 2006, Palmer could’ve been on track for the same. The Bengals have a way of taking dreams and smashing them, tearing them like Ki-Jana Carter’s knees or doing the Irish jig into nowhere Iike Chad Johnson. Burrow, though, is different. He’s two games into his NFL career and that “C” on his jersey already seems well-earned. You can envision him one day driving down the field in the final minutes to win a playoff game. Right now he changes the reality for the Bengals. That’s enough. More importantly, though, he changes the future. That’s where things really get exciting. 

Damon Amendolara, known by his fans as D.A., hosts “The D.A. Show,” from 6:00AM-10:00AM, ET, across the country on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. “The D.A. Show” is known for its unique perspective on sports, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, colorful listener interaction, and candid interviews with athletes and coaches. Amendolara also appears regularly on NFL Network as part of the “NFL Top 10” documentary film series, CBS television and SNY TV. He is a Syracuse University grad and native of Warwick, N.Y.