CINCINNATI – Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow is not shy about accepting the expectations that fall on his shoulders this season.
If and when the season begins, Cincinnati wants the overall top choice in the 2020 draft to come and be successful immediately. In his first news conference since the Bengals elected him, Burrow said he shares the same ambitions in his first season in the NFL.
“As I enter my rookie year, I expect to play well and I expect to win many games,” Burrow said on Friday when asked to reflect on recent success that includes a Heisman trophy and a national title. “If I look back now, I’m doing myself a disservice and the team a disservice.”
Burrow’s comments came after the team announced that he had officially signed his four-year, $ 36.1 million rookie contract after agreeing to the terms earlier this week, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Earlier this week, Bengals coach Zac Taylor indicated where Burrow was sitting on the depth chart on his way into camp, although he did not explicitly declare the winner of the Heisman Trophy as the team’s first start.
“Obviously we have weeks to sort out who starts and all that stuff, but Joe will go in and take the first snaps at quarterback,” Taylor said Wednesday. “He’s ready for it.”
The second-year coach said that the basic expectation for his new quarterback is to play well in week 1 of the season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers. Burrow welcomed Taylor’s early hopes of him.
“It feels good to have immediate confidence in the coaching staff,” Burrow said. “I have come a long way in the last three to four years in that aspect. It feels good to come in and know that they have my back and that if I make a mistake in practice I will not be a bench.”
To prepare for the task ahead, Burrow spent most of the low season with his parents and education in southeast Ohio. Burrow said he moved to the Cincinnati area a couple of weeks ago and met “many different guys” when asked if he could throw with one of his new teammates.
Burrow confirmed that he could throw to Rookie-wide receiver Tee Higgins, Bengal’s second choice.
“I’m really excited about Tee,” Burrow said. “I was very impressed a few times I threw with him. I think he will be a really, really good player for us.”
The draft for the 2020 class will be crucial in helping the Bengals return to the season for the first time since 2015. Apart from the playoffs, Cincinnati has not won a playoff since January 1991, long before Burrow and many of his teammates were born.
Ever since it emerged last fall that the Bengals will have the overall choice in April in the draft and a chance to draft one of the most transcendent college quarterbacks in recent years, Burrow has established himself as the one to lift the desperate franchise.
On Friday, he downplayed the talk about the long-term expectations for his time in Cincinnati.
“I try not to pay attention to all that,” Burrow said. “My job here is to be the best I can today and get better every day. That’s all I’m focused on right now. I let everyone else do everything that speaks.”