The Bengals opened their offseason workout program back at the beginning of May. It’s not training camp – there’s no live contact, pads, or even helmets, but it’s still football. For people craving news about the team, there are at least a handful of stories to be found. Some of them even involve what’s happening on the field.
Here’s what happened this past week:
Joe Burrow on Super Bowl LVI, his offseason work, and Luka Dončić
Any team with an established quarterback will give them an abundance of media availability at this time of year. That goes double, if not more, for quarterbacks with the combination of ability and personality possessed by Joe Burrow, who met with the media last Tuesday.
When asked how he processed the team’s loss at the pinnacle of the 2021 season, and what he’d been doing since, the quarterback made it clear that he wasn’t dwelling on anything.
“I treated it like any other loss,” Burrow told reporters. “I went through that week, watched the film. Saw where I could get better, saw things we did well, and then I moved on. I put it behind me. We’re in the 2022 season.”
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that one loss, regardless of the magnitude, would struggle to find a place to live in Burrow’s head. In quarterback parlance, he has the virtue of a short memory. It’s how the team came so close to winning the big game in the first place despite Burrow repeatedly taking blows from Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and company. Teams can physically barrage him, but Burrow doesn’t mentally process sacks, interceptions, losses, or whatever else in ways that leave him rattled. He moves on and puts them behind him.
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Burrow fielded additional questions about how he was spending his first full offseason as a fully healthy NFL player, potential changes to the offense, his role in the signing of some of the team’s key free agent acquisitions, and whether he was tracking the NBA playoffs.
“At this point, I’m not going to have a big overhaul of anything that I’m doing,” he said to the first question. “I’m just looking to refine my entire game as a whole.”
He answered the remaining questions thoughtfully and humorously, but didn’t say anything groundbreaking. The conference closed with a reporter mentioning a comparison drawn between Burrow and Dallas Mavericks star Luka Dončić, who currently finds himself and his team facing the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.
Luka’s play-style, personality and mannerisms remind me of Burrow
Absolute dogs in the arena
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) May 16, 2022
“Whenever they played, someone was talking a little stuff to him on courtside,” Burrow said in response. “He was laughing in his face every time he hit a three. I thought that was pretty cool.”
Is there any deep analysis to be made about that comparison or Burrow’s reaction to it? Probably not, but it’s fun.
Bonus: Burrow on the concept of sacks
Burrow didn’t just speak to Bengals media last week – in a move the likes of which the quarterback doesn’t often make, he appeared as a guest on an episode of the Full Send Podcast released on May 18. While Burrow didn’t divulge any government secrets or anything similarly newsworthy, he reflected on his football career and offered his thoughts on several aspects of the game. Among the most noteworthy of these was his take on sacks – or, specifically, his criteria for distinguishing good sacks from bad sacks.
Ben Baby, the resident Bengals reporter at ESPN, posted a tweet the same day with a clip of the take in question:
Here’s Bengals QB Joe Burrow talking about the concept of taking sacks and why he thinks sacks against can be misleading (via YouTube/Full Send Podcast) pic.twitter.com/2IV6cw02BW
- Ep 113: The Patriots And The AFC Eastby Full Press Coverage on March 17, 2023 at 2:14 pm
— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) May 18, 2022
In short: taking a sack on third down, outside of field goal range, isn’t bad. Extending a play is worth more to the team than sending them to punt on fourth down with marginally better field position.
Without applying any further scrutiny, Burrow’s point is logically sound. It doesn’t sound like he came up with it on the spot to deflect criticism from his 2021 offensive line (which is how it came up in context).
Per Brett Kollman, it even tracks with Burrow’s third down sack distribution in 2021.
I just looked into it and Burrow kind of does have a point. He took 21 total sacks on 3rd downs in the regular season, but 15 out of 21 (71%) happened in Bengals territory, so they were going to punt anyway.
Only 2/21 (9.5%) of those 3rd down sacks took them out of FG range.
— Brett Kollmann (@BrettKollmann) May 20, 2022
The problem here is twofold – one, obviously, is that Burrow’s point ignores the physical consequences of him taking these sacks (as Kollman addresses in his follow-up tweet). In a way, it’s nice that Burrow clearly doesn’t fear injury despite having already experienced a season-ending ligament tear. That doesn’t mean it’s a great idea for him to play football absent an interest in self-preservation.
The second problem is that Burrow took 30 more sacks in the regular season on other downs. Even taking Burrow’s standard as law, that still means over 70 percent of his sacks were definitively bad.
Jessie Bates’ lingering contract dispute
Jessie Bates III made it publicly known last week that he has no interest in playing under the franchise tag in 2022 and will hold out until a long-term deal is signed. Thus far, the Bengals haven’t offered a satisfactory deal and the fifth-year safety has held his ground.
While rules changes in the most recent collective bargaining agreement include much harsher penalties for players who hold out, Bates isn’t subject to any fines since he never signed the franchise offer sheet. The Bengals have until July 15 to sign Bates to a long-term contract. If no agreement is reached, and the Bengals don’t rescind the offer sheet, Bates will have to either report and play under the tag or stay home until he does. As long as Bates reports before the start of the regular season, he’ll make the full value of the tag.
If the Bengals do rescind the offer sheet, at any point, Bates becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Bengals would have just as much ability to sign him to a long-term contract as anyone else, but things wouldn’t reach that point in the first place if the sides could agree to terms on one.
This scenario isn’t common – the last player to hit the market after having their tag rescinded was cornerback Josh Norman. That happened in April, a week before the 2016 NFL Draft – leaving Norman with time to sign a huge deal in Washington and the Panthers with time to draft three cornerbacks (James Bradberry, Daryl Worley, Zack Sanchez) as potential replacements. The Bengals and Bates aren’t likely to reach such a mutually beneficial ending if negotiations drag late into the offseason.
Other stories from around minicamp
- For the Bengals’ part, all three of the defensive backs they drafted in 2022 – Dax Hill, Cam Taylor-Britt, and Tycen Anderson – signed their rookie deals last week. They’re well-prepared for whatever happens with Bates – the longer his holdout, the more reps these rookies will get.
- One of the Bengals’ new offensive linemen, La’el Collins, spoke glowingly to reporters about offensive line coach Frank Pollack. Collins and Pollack worked together in Dallas from 2015-17, and Collins cited Pollack’s presence as an influence that led him to the Bengals in 2022.
- Tariqious Tisdale turned some heads when the Bengals initially took the practice field in May. Dan Hoard, the radio voice of the team, noted his impression of Tisdale in a tweet on Tuesday. He also drew praise from senior defensive assistant Mark Duffner in an earlier press meeting. At 6’5″ and 285 pounds, with 35-inch arms and a 40-yard dash time in the 4.6 range, Tisdale boasts impressive physical traits for a prospect the Bengals were able to acquire as an undrafted free agent. It’s premature to pencil Tisdale into anything, but his camp performance will be worth tracking.
– Andy Hammel is the Managing Editor for the Bengals at Full Press Coverage. Follow @Andy_Hammel
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