How Joe Burrow's improved velocity could have Bengals thinking playoffs

What can you expect from Joe Burrow this fantasy season (1:25).
CINCINNATI Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback, was something else this offseason.

The brace was not only for his left knee, but also the protection it provided. Oder the orange practice jerseys, which are part of the uniforms.

His hand seemed to be moving faster as the ball came out of his hands. Receivers had difficulty catching passes that arrived faster than they expected. One even wore his gloves during drills.

The Bengals' wideout Tyler Boyd stated that hands were out there stinging a bit.

Burrow had spent months working hard to achieve this extra zip. He had also dedicated his offseason to two main goals: rehabbing multiple torn ligaments from the knee injury that ended his rookie season in November and improving his throwing motion and stance. This resulted in a significant increase in velocity, which will allow Cincinnati to unlock its deep passing game.

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Burrow fought both with the same determination that made him a college quarterback who wanted to make a mark. Heisman winner, national champion and No. 1, overall pick in 2020.

Heading into the Bengals season opener against Minnesota Vikings (1:05 p.m. ET Sunday, Fox), his knee is fully healed. ET Sunday, Fox: His knee is completely healed. The added energy on his throws could make Cincinnati a contender for the 2021 postseason.

Jordan Palmer, a private coach for quarterbacks who works with Burrow, and other NFL starters, stated that velocity is only one byproduct of a player who increases his velocity. The confidence level starts to drop. They can now make certain types of throws and they start to feel the effects.

Burrow was second in the NFL for completions and attempts at the end of his 2020 season, just behind Tom Brady. Burrow was ineffective when it came throws over 20 yards.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Burrows' completion percentage for attempts exceeding 20 yards was 21%. This is the third worst among 33 qualified quarterbacks in the past decade.

The Bengals' lack of explosive plays in last season's campaign could be due to a few factors. Burrow and A.J., a veteran wide receiver, failed to build a solid rapport. Green and Burrow failed to form a strong relationship. Rookie Tee Higgins was a second-round selection. He didn't start to develop until the middle part of the season. Cincinnati's passing game used a lot more quick throws to counter the overmatched offensive line.

All of it was open to us last season. Burrow stated in July that I didn't hit deep enough. These were possible because I had the strength to do them last year. It's just increased this year.

Joe Burrow spent a lot of time this offseason improving his throwing mechanics. This led to an increase in velocity. Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire

Build a stronger arm

Understanding Burrows offseason is only possible if you understand him as a person, and as a player.

Palmer said Joe is a machine. All of his talents, abilities, and relationships are centered around his ability to excel at this. This is not true for everyone.

Burrow was planning to visit Los Angeles to see the surgeon who had repaired his knee. He booked a few days with Palmer, who lives nearby in Orange County, to help him. Palmer stated that Burrow did not intend to increase his velocity. Palmer instead asked Burrow for clips of situations where it didn't feel right. They quickly discovered why.

Burrow was known for throwing off his toes and lifting his feet slightly off the ground. Burrow worked with Palmer on keeping his cleats firmly planted. This, Burrow explained, helps him generate more torque through his core and eventually, power to his arm when he throws.

Palmer used his biometric testing equipment for quantifying the impact. Burrow's throwing velocity increased from 48.5 to 54 miles per hour just days after he was cleared to throw -- something Palmer believes has increased since Burrow completed his rehabilitation in Cincinnati.

To help Burrow continue his development, Zac Taylor, the Bengals' offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, and Dan Pitcher, Burrow's assistant, worked together. Together, they took tape of Burrow's throws and evaluated his misses. They also watched his feet to see how the ball went out of his hands.

Callahan stated that there is a different wiring in his brain than anyone else. That's what makes you excited as a coach because he will do everything possible for you to be great.

Burrow's exceptional timing and accuracy enabled him to win the Heisman Trophy and a national championship in 2019. AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki. File

"It's always been knock on me"

Throughout his football career, Burrow was asked questions about his arm.

Some wondered whether Burrow, a southeast Ohio recruit, had the arm strength necessary to play college football at a high level. After Burrow signed with Ohio State, the discussion continued and continues to this day.

Burrow stated that it's always been a knock against me for some reason, regardless of how I played.

Burrow eventually shook off most doubters while in college.

In 2018, he transferred to LSU. Although his first season in Baton Rouge was mediocre, Burrow's new offense produced one of the best individual seasons in college football history, winning the Heisman Trophy, and leading the Tigers towards a national championship.

Jimmy Burrows father said that he never heard from him about his arm strength during his two years at LSU.

Jimmy Burrow stated that there was never a time when anyone was alarmed that he did not have it. It was brought up several times to him over the years.

He knows the names of those who brought it up, and I believe him.

The Bengals were not included in the pre-draft process.

Taylor stated that there is nothing I have seen in these top quarterbacks from this draft that would make you believe they don't have the ability to play in the NFL. Taylor spoke at the NFL Scouting Combine in February 2020.

Burrow's propensity to throw off his toes hindered his ability to add zip. Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Explosive materials

Cincinnati could benefit from the extra spark Burrow gained this offseason, which could allow it to make the big plays it has been missing.

Burrow's exceptional timing and accuracy have been a hallmark of his career, which was one of the most important traits that the Bengals sought when they drafted Burrow. These attributes will be enhanced by Burrow's increased velocity. He can hold the ball for a fraction longer and make passes in tighter window.

Callahan stated that if you are always anticipating and not trying to drive the ball into a (throwing window) every now and then, it will allow for more explosive plays.

The Bengals selected JaMarr Chase, a former LSU wide receiver, as the fifth overall draft pick in 2021. This was to help Burrow and the offense. Chase was the Football Bowl Subdivision's leader in receiving yards and touchdowns during LSU's 2019 run for the national title.

Cincinnati signed tackle Riley Reiff, and rehired Frank Pollack as offensive line coach. This should allow Burrow to have more time to target open positions.

After the team drafted Chase, Taylor stated that they wanted to be able make plays wherever Chase is. We want to be able to play anywhere we don't have to. We want to be able score in just one or two plays.

"It has to show up in the games"

All of Burrows offseason activities will be put to the test when the Bengals play the Vikings on Sunday.

Burrow will be wearing a protective knee brace as he prepares for his first tackle since his injury. This will allow him to test his offseason throwing techniques and see the results. Burrow and the Bengals will face a secondary that is led by Harrison Smith, an ex-All-Pro safety. According to NFL Next Gen, Minnesota had the highest number of completions for throws of more than 20 yards in 2020.

The wide receivers were very interested in Burrows' velocity during OTAs as well as the preseason. The second-year quarterback is aware that these improvements must be made when it matters.

Burrow stated that if it does not show up now, it doesn't matter. It has to show up in the game. I look forward to it.

NFL defensive coordinators wanted Burrow to be able to handle the pressures and blitzes at the highest level of football. Expect them to test Burrow's ability to make throws in 2021 that he could not as a rookie.

Callahan stated that he looks forward to seeing who tests it. It's going to be a lot of fun, I believe.