Bengals Coverage

Bengals Beat: Why Joe Burrow ‘The Coach’ Speaking More Is A Good Thing For Bengals Offense

CINCINNATI — Joe Burrow may be bull-headed when it comes to forcing his way back on the practice and playing field (according to good buddy and teammate Ja’Marr Chase).

But when it comes to offering his two cents, he is much more calculating in terms of the right time and place to speak up and let teammates and coaches know of possible corrections or improvements to play execution or design.

Head coach Zac Taylor and Burrow himself have acknowledged as much since Burrow came into the league in 2020. Burrow has always believed less is more when it comes to offering his opinion.

But that might be slowly changing this year.

“He’s been way more vocal this year, in general, from the start of the offseason program until through training camp,” Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said after Thursday’s practice, Burrow’s second back with the team since a 32-day hiatus due to a right calf strain.

“He’s still involved in all that stuff he coaches pretty actively now you know by more than he ever has. He’s not afraid to speak up, not sounding like he’s talking the whole time. He’s very selective with what he says and how he says it. And so it’s lands with maximum impact when he has something to say and the quarterback needs. He’s been the same guy the whole time. He’s fun to listen to and he’s got a lot of opinions about how things should work and how and we listen to him. And that’s kind of what makes, I think, our setup pretty unique. So I’ve seen a growth in the meeting room process from him this year in general. It’s been pretty cool.”

Callahan is very familiar with a Type ‘A’ personality quarterback, having worked with Peyton Manning in 2015 in Manning’s final season that concluded with a Super Bowl 50 title.

Callahan says Burrow’s role as a leader and on-field coach could certainly evolve. But Callahan cautions that each quarterback has their own personality and it’s important for them to stay true to themselves so that players don’t tune them out.

Quarterbacks need to worry first about playing the position and executing the offense, not coaching it.

Still, it’s great for Callahan and Taylor to have a quarterback with such command of a complex offense that they feel he can make coaching-like adjustments during the game.

“It’s great as a coach. I think as a coach you’re always hoping to be able to just sort of fade back and watch the players take control of it all. And when you’ve got a good team, it’s usually what happens. And he’s gotten to the point in his career where he’s very confident in what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and his role in it. And that’s that’s pretty fun for a coach to be able to do that.”

What makes Callahan so confident Burrow can handle the “coaching” part of things on the field?

“I think he’s excellent. I think he’s very clear with what he wants and his expectations of what players are looking for, what he wants us to look like, where he wants the spacing to be,” Callahan said. “It’s always more effective when he says, I could say the same thing. It’s always going to be it’s going to land a little more heavier when he says it versus even if I were to say it. But he’s got a great feel for what he expects and what he wants, and there’s not a lot of fluff in between for him. He’s been very direct and it’s the point that’s being made and make the point you move on is pretty good job.”

Burrow is back on the field after an injury setback and detour from 2023 season preparations. Callahan believes when Burrow’s contract extension gets done and it’s all football, the result will be a super-focused Burrow in charge.

“My experience with any guys that are in contract negotiations is whenever it’s done, it’s always a weight off your shoulders to some degree,” Callahan said. “It’s there is a business side and there is tension and there all those all those things happen for every negotiation. And so there’s when it’s all said and done and everyone’s happy and a deal signed, everything feels great and there’s generally a weight lifted.

“So I’m sure that that’s going to be the case when it’s all said and done is one less thing to worry about off the field. And so, guys that play great try to diminish all those distractions. And so they just focus on playing and hopefully that’s all said and done. That’s how he feels about it.”

  • Looking good:
  • Both Callahan and Taylor indicated Thursday before the 3-day hiatus that Burrow looked good on the practice field Wednesday and Thursday. Burrow hasn’t taken part in team period work, which includes 11-on-11 work against the full defense. Burrow’s work in practice has involved just individual passing work and throws against 7-on-7 defensive sets. That work, it’s worth noting, has been crisp and spot on.

    “Everything’s going according to the rehab plan, as far as I’ve seen him look great,” Callahan said. “Throwing the ball, you can tell he is in shape and his arms and shape and his timing is good. All those things still didn’t seem to be affected at all. So that was a positive thing. You never know until you get out there what’s going to look like. So that part was was great. You look good last two days and nice to have him out there.

    “Just really those those things that that idea of throwing the ball on time, throwing a ball live to receivers again, just it’s been a couple of weeks, you know, since you’ve been in pads on the football field, the normal spacing and normal speeds and all that. So to to throw those balls to get that timing down, to get back comfortable seeing a defense and playing fast and all that is, is probably a huge part of it. So obviously the next step is, you know, getting those five intense team periods that, you know, you see all of it together. So it’s been a it’s been a good start.”

    Taylor said he is not putting any status on Burrow, instead taking it “day-by-day” in his integration in the game prep for Cleveland. Still, barring an unexpected setback, Burrow figures to be on the field next week getting ready for Cleveland on Sept. 10.

  • Praise for staff:
  • Zac Taylor made a point Thursday to acknowledge the work of strength and conditioning coach Joey Boese and trainers Matt Summers and Nick Cosgray for their work in helping Burrow – and others – return to the field ready to contribute.

    “I would give praise to Joey Boese and Matt Summers and Nick Cosgray and the whole training staff and the whole strength staff,” Taylor said. “I think our players have a lot of confidence in those guys, and I think that’s a key thing is those two departments working together with great chemistry and great communication, and that’s what we have from Matt Summers and his staff and Joey Boese and his staff.

    “And so, (strength and training departments) are both big pieces to the puzzle in rehabbing players like Joe, and we’re very confident in both their abilities. They’ve done a great job, not only with Joe but several other players we’ve had over the years, so that’s part of the relationships you don’t get to see behind (scenes). Obviously, you guys don’t get a chance to see that, but I think it’s critical to highlight that and the confidence our players have in those two departments, led by those two men.”

    Mike Petraglia

    Joined CLNS Media in 2017. Covered Boston sports as a radio broadcaster, reporter, columnist and TV and video talent since 1993. Covered Boston Red Sox for MLB.com from 2000-2007 and the New England Patriots for ESPN Radio, WBZ-AM, SiriusXM, WEEI, WEEI.com and CLNS since 1993. Featured columnist for the Boston Celtics on CelticsBlog.

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