Willie Lutz is a former Loveland resident, a graduate of Loveland High School, and former sportswriter for Loveland Magazine

by Willie Lutz

Those who endured the 12-minute run from the Bengals, who looked lifeless in Miami, down 23 points on a day many at home hoped to be the final loss on one of the worst seasons of the last decade in Cincinnati, despite eight losses being within one possession. 

After a 35-38 overtime loss at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, the Cincinnati Bengals secured the first overall pick in the 2020 draft, a pick that should bring a new franchise centerpiece, Joe Burrow. LSU’s Heisman-winning quarterback won the nation’s collective hearts with a dazzling senior season, finishing with 4,715 passing yards, 48 touchdowns, completed 77.9% of passes, and averaged 10.7 yards per attempt. With only 6 interceptions and without a loss on his Tigers’ resume, he represents the nation’s top seed in the College Football Playoff as the nation’s best player.

If the jungle kittens don’t win next Sunday…

If the jungle kittens don’t win next Sunday against Cleveland, they’ll have the worst record of any Bengals team ever, though a win would tie the team with the Jon Kitna-led 2002 team who finished 2-14. That finish put Cincinnati in place to draft Heisman winner Carson Palmer with the top pick in the 2003 NFL Draft.

Certainly, a narrative exists in which the Andy Dalton-led Cincinnati Bengals crush the messy Cleveland Browns in a fitting end to the 2019 season. It’ll likely be Dalton’s last game in a striped helmet and the Browns are about to wrap up one of the most embarrassing seasons of NFL football in recent memory. As we learned on Sunday against the Dolphins, Dalton is here to win; he passed for 396 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and completed 33-of-56 passes, nearly leading the team to the biggest comeback victory in team history. 

It’ll likely be Dalton’s last game in a striped helmet and the Browns are about to wrap up one of the most embarrassing seasons of NFL football in recent memory.

Dalton will want to impress the potentially red-hot quarterback market, as many teams seem ready to move a different direction with their passers. Teams like the Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are among teams that may make a change at QB in the coming months. Potentially, Dalton could head to one of those teams in a favorable trade for the Bengals, as a move could net the team a second or third-round pick if Andy continues to impress against the Browns. 

For Cincinnati, loss to Miami made a few things pretty clear; Joe Burrow is obviously the pick at the top of the draft and that this team needs to add more good players to the roster this offseason. 

There is obviously bound to be plenty of pressure from a central Ohio-minded fanbase to go with Burrow’s teammate and practice opponent at Ohio State in DE Chase Young. There probably won’t be as much pressure to draft QB Tua Tagovailoa from Alabama, as the 21-year-old quarterback will enter the league with a cumbersome injury resume. 

It’s amazing to hear so many college-aged people rave not about the player, but about the human being.

Having graduated from Ohio State in 2019 and thus meeting a handful of people who are friends or former classmates with Burrow, it’s amazing to hear so many college-aged people rave not about the player, but about the human being. What some knew before but many learned during his incredibly touching Heisman speech, Joe Burrow has the heart of a leader and the poise of a title fighter, essentially the intangibles you’d dream of in a franchise quarterback.

I’d recommend throwing a couple bucks for this awesome Facebook fundraiser called, “Joe Burrow’s Heisman speech: Fundraiser for Athens County Food Pantry” if you’re feeling inspired by the passer and in the spirit. 

Before the season, I think like many people, I thought Dwyane Haskins had a higher upside and was probably a better player than Joe Burrow; it’s impossible for me to feel that way after everything I’ve seen from the senior passer’s closing season at LSU. 

Burrow does everything you’d hope from a young quarterback all before NFL refinement.

Navigating the pocket like a pro and keeping his eyes on a level plane while reading the defense, Burrow does everything you’d hope from a young quarterback all before NFL refinement. In Cincinnati, he’ll have the chance to work with Zac Taylor and Brian Callahan, two coaches with backgrounds as quarterback coaches from their earlier days in the NFL (of course both are under 40, so those earlier days aren’t exactly ancient). 

“New Dey” promise

When Cincinnati comes to the blatant conclusion that they’ll take Burrow at the top of the draft and set this franchise on a brand-new trajectory, it’ll finally deliver on the “New Dey” promise that became apart of the team’s marketing pitch following Zac Taylor’s hire. As many know by now, Burrow is an Ohio kid and a willing leader; he’s more personable than Palmer ever was and doesn’t bring any baggage to a lockerroom currently loaded with likable personalities.

If this team drifts from Joe Burrow, they’re making a mistake that the 6’3” passer will certainly find a way to make them regret in years down the road.

If this team drifts from Joe Burrow, they’re making a mistake that the 6’3” passer will certainly find a way to make them regret in years down the road. Sure, Ohio State when got lucky when Justin Fields decided to join the Buckeyes via transfer, filling the gap left by the Burrow departure in 2018, but even they might feel the brunt of that move if they advance to the National Championship game. In the NFL, Burrow will have the chance to make the Bengals pay once every four years, at the most minimal rate.

The pick seems obvious to this sports-watcher, draft Joe Burrow and call it a day; it’ll give your team one of the best chances in its history to construct a contending roster. However, like many others, I think this is all just preaching to a Bengals-based choir, one including Duke Tobin, Troy, and Katie Blackburn.



 

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