Joe Burrow is targeting a Week 1 return. For newly rehired Cincinnati Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack, keeping Burrow standing upright and off injured reserve is priority No. 1.
“That's Line 1 in every O-line room on all 32 teams. You've got to protect your quarterback. That's what everyone is trying to always constantly get better at and striving for,” Pollack said. “We've got a good, young quarterback. We've got to do everything we can to protect him. That's Line 1.”
Burrow was battered and bruised during his rookie year. At the time of Burrow’s season-ending left knee injury in Week 11, he had been sacked 32 times, which was the third most in the NFL. Entering his final game, Burrow had taken 72 hits. That mark was tied with New York Giants’ Daniel Jones for the most by a rookie QB in his first nine games since 2000, per the Associated Press.
In 10 games, Burrow saw pressure on 146 of his 453 dropbacks. Overall, the Bengals gave up an AFC North-high 215 pressures. Cincinnati allowed three sacks a game this season, tied for the fifth most in all of football.
The good news is, under Pollack’s direction in 2018, the team’s offensive line ranked 11th in the NFL in fewest sacks allowed per game at 2.3.
Pollack’s main objective is to shore up the Bengals’ offensive line. His return to the sideline has multiple Bengals excited, including center Trey Hopkins and running back Joe Mixon. When news dropped about Pollack’s hiring, Mixon called Burrow to express his elation.
“I think everyone was really excited when we hired coach Pollack. I don't know him personally. But I know Joe (Mixon) was really excited,” Burrow said. “He called me fired up, hootin' and hollerin' and was very excited. I know Zac's excited about the hire. So, I think he'll do a really good job with those guys and I have full faith in that.”
Cincinnati’s offensive line didn’t do a good enough job of protecting Burrow in his rookie season. Burrow’s “full faith” in the O-line going forward is critical. The quarterback indicated that he isn’t pressuring the Bengals to upgrade the unit, but it’s apparent the team needs to shore up its offensive line.
Pollack’s arrival is a solid start. The Bengals will likely add pieces to their offensive line over the offseason. Regardless of who the Bengals offensive linemen are, protecting Burrow is Line 1.