The Bengals rookie quarterback, Joe Burrow, has shown playmaking ability, accuracy and poise that are rare of passers early in their career. Just not deep. Through four games, Burrow has been among the worst deep passers in football. Burrow’s deep passing numbers through four games, according to Sports Info Solutions, would suggest that the Ravens should dare Burrow to beat them overtop.
Through four games:
- 20 attempts 20+ air yards
- 7/20 have been on target, or 35%, which ranks 19th of 24 passers to throw 10 or more passes 20+ air yards.
- Only one completion, making him 1/20. That’s by far the lowest rate in football (he’s the only passer under 10%).
Coincidentally, the Ravens have three highly capable press cornerbacks, in Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith. Press jamming the Bengals receivers and daring Burrow to throw overtop would play to the Ravens’ strengths, while highlighting the Bengals offensive struggles.
Lessons from watching all 21 incomplete Joe Burrow deep balls (it’s not all bad) https://t.co/CR6vu6fBau— BENGALS TALK (@BengalsTalk) October 8, 2020
Joe Burrow's deep accuracy is at 7%. pic.twitter.com/mPyqY17z1k— QB Data Mine (@QBDataMine) October 2, 2020
The Ravens have routinely put DeShon Elliott or Chuck Clark 20 yards deep in single high looks, taking a page out of Greg Williams’ playbook at times. While encouraging Burrow to throw deep could be playing with fire, he’s thrived throwing in the short/intermediate areas of the field. Burrow has thrown 144 passes 15 air yards or less, with 85.1% on target, ranking sixth among all passers to attempt 50 such passes. He’s completed 75% of such passes, ranking ninth in the NFL.
Burrow is yet to complete a deep pass against man coverage (cover-0, cover-1 or cover-2 man) in his young career, while only going 1-14 against zone coverage, per Sports Info Solutions. Overall, Burrow has excelled throwing against man coverage (80.8% on target, sixth in the NFL), while he’s been less effective against zone coverage (75.8% accurate, 21st in the NFL among 28 passers to throw 50 passes.)
Press-jamming receivers early, forcing Burrow to connect deep or fail to find rhythm, could prove imperative towards finding an early lead, which the Ravens have been insurmountable in overcoming when they do so. In fact, the Ravens haven’t lost a game where they’ve had a lead at the half since Lamar Jackson took over at quarterback for Baltimore.
Perhaps Burrow does finally find his groove if the Ravens force him to hit shots overtop. However, relying on the $140 million dollar duo of Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey is imperative for the Ravens defensive success. If the Ravens can’t rely on the duo to thwart a rookie passer at home who has struggled deep, then who can they rely on?
If Burrow is able to connect deep against press looks, the Bengals could find themselves in a more competitive game than the 11.5-point spread suggests.