Why Joe Burrow’s interceptions against Bears weren’t his fault

Cincinnati Bengals At Chicago Bears
Cincinnati Bengals At Chicago Bears /

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow had a tough time against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

Burrow was unable to lead the Bengals to a second straight win to open the 2021 season.

The Bears took down Cincinnati 20-17, dropping the Bengals to 1-1 on the season.

Burrow completed 19 of his 30 pass attempts for 207 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions.

The three interceptions came on three straight pass attempts — an awful sequence for the former LSU football star.

A quick reaction to Burrow’s three interceptions could be that he’s “overrated”.

That would be an uninformed reaction, though.

Ultimately, the interceptions are on Burrow — he’s the one out there throwing the ball.

But they weren’t necessarily his fault.

Why Joe Burrow isn’t to blame for his three interceptions

The reason for Burrow’s three interceptions is way more complex than “Burrow made some bad throws”.

Burrow tossed those interceptions because of the combination of the Bears’ strong defensive front and the Bengals’ work-in-progress offensive line.

Cincinnati head coach Zac Taylor knew going into the game that Burrow wouldn’t have time to throw the ball down the field. As a result, the Bengals’ game plan was altered. There were more short and intermediate routes.

From Bengals.com:

"Bengals head coach Zac Taylor knew he was going to get a monstrous pass rush from the Bears and he was right. How much time was Burrow to have to go long? Burrow got hit nine times and four of them were sacks.“We wanted to get the ball out quick in empty. They got a great front, one of the better fronts you’ll see in this game. They’ve done a great job there. We thought we had some good matchups elsewhere,” Taylor said."

The Bears quickly realized that Cincinnati’s game plan wasn’t geared toward throwing the ball deep, so they were able to sit on the Bengals’ short routes. That made intercepting Burrow easy for the defense.

From Bengals.com:

"“They have a good pass rush. We tried to get it out quick and they knew we had a good pass rush and were going to get it out quick. They just started sitting on all of our routes,” Burrow said."

Of course, in true Burrow fashion, he took complete blame for the interceptions.

"“That’s just me trying to force the ball, trying to get something going. You learn a lesson today that when your defense is playing as well as they are you don’t have to force the balls you can just kind of let the game come to you.”"

Unfortunately for Burrow, this is an issue that could linger all season. He can’t do anything to combat pressure from other teams. The Bengals’ offensive line simply has to play better.

The good news is that not every team will present the same challenge as the Bears.

There will be weeks where Burrow has more options (like going deep). Other weeks, however, could be similar to this past week against Chicago.

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Hopefully, Burrow and Taylor learned some important lessons this week. I’m sure Burrow is already hard at work trying to figure out how he can get better against teams with a strong pass rush.