Analysis: No Joe Burrow means no chance for the Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals Ravens Football
Posted at 3:10 PM, Nov 17, 2023

(AP) — Joe Burrow shook his head, screamed and jogged to the locker room because the pain in his right wrist wouldn’t allow him to throw a football on the sideline.

Another week in the NFL, another injured quarterback.

Burrow is no ordinary QB, however. He’s the franchise for Cincinnati.

With him, the Bengals were Super Bowl contenders. They’ve won consecutive division titles and an AFC crown. Without him, they have no chance.

Aaron Rodgers. Kirk Cousins. Anthony Richardson. Daniel Jones. Deshaun Watson. Now Burrow.

Burrow exited Thursday night’s game in the second quarter, a devastating blow for the Bengals, who went from leading the Baltimore Ravens 10-7 with their star player to losing 34-20.

The Bengals (5-5) have lost two in a row and are last in the competitive AFC North. Coach Zac Taylor said Burrow has a sprained wrist, but the severity of the injury wasn’t immediately known. It's uncertain when Burrow will return.

Burrow missed training camp with a calf injury that limited him the first month of the season. He was rusty during an 0-2 start. But once Burrow started feeling better, the Bengals got going. They won four in a row, including impressive victories over Seattle, San Francisco and Buffalo, before losing to Houston last week.

Jake Browning had thrown one career pass before he replaced Burrow against the Ravens. He’ll face the Steelers (6-3) next week if Burrow can’t play.

No matter how much the NFL tries to protect quarterbacks, they’re going down at an alarming rate.

The New York Jets lost Rodgers in Week 1 when he suffered a torn Achilles tendon on the fourth play of his first game with his new team. The Jets (4-5) haven’t recovered. Their offense has been dismal with Zach Wilson. Rodgers is aiming for a return in mid-December, but New York could be out of the playoff race by then.

The Minnesota Vikings lost Cousins for the rest of the season to a torn Achilles tendon in Week 8. They traded for Joshua Dobbs two days later, and he has led the Vikings (6-4) to a pair of victories to extend their winning streak to five games.

Richardson, the No. 4 overall draft pick in April, played in only four games for Indianapolis before having season-ending shoulder surgery. The Colts (5-5) have stayed in the playoff mix with backup Gardner Minshew.

Jones missed three games with a neck injury and then tore his ACL in his first game back with the Giants in Week 9. Backup Tyrod Taylor has missed two straight games with a rib injury, forcing New York (2-8) to turn to undrafted rookie Tommy DeVito.

The Cleveland Browns lost Watson for the remainder of the season to a shoulder injury after he led them to a comeback win over Baltimore last Sunday. The Browns (6-3) now try to make a playoff push with rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

Matthew Stafford, Justin Fields, Ryan Tannehill and Jimmy Garopplo have also missed games this season. Tannehill and Garoppolo eventually lost their starting jobs.

The Saints turned to Jamies Winston last Sunday after Derek Carr came out with concussion symptoms. New Orleans (5-5) has a bye this week, giving Carr more time to return.

Jalen Hurts has played through a knee injury over the past three games for the Philadelphia Eagles (8-1). Kyler Murray just returned for Arizona after ACL surgery last year.

Football is the ultimate team sport, but quarterbacks are usually the most important player on the field. Too many teams are relying on backups.