The NFL only has official data on the number of times in a given season that a quarterback was sacked going back to 1970. In that 52-season span, there have been only 55 instances of a quarterback being taken to the ground at least 50 times during the regular season. One of those instances came this season, as Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked 51 times.
It's not gone unnoticed. Essentially every Super Bowl post-mortem focuses on the Bengals' need to upgrade the protection in front of Burrow, and his teammates seem to agree that it should be a priority.
"You don't want your quarterback to get hit one time, let alone how many times it was, not even counting the things that weren't sacks but just hits in general," tight end C.J. Uzomah said, per ProFootballTalk. "It has been tough. You don't want to see your franchise quarterback get hit as many times as he did. That is probably going to be a point of emphasis coming up."
Still, it's pretty incredible that the Bengals even made it as far as they did, considering how often Burrow was hit. Of the aforementioned 55 instances of a quarterback taking at least 50 regular-season sacks, only 15 times did that quarterback's team make the playoffs. That's a rate of just 27.3 percent. Only 11 of those 15 teams advanced at least one round in the playoffs. Just four made it as far as their conference title game. And only one -- this year's Bengals -- made it to the Super Bowl.
|Joe Burrow||2021||25||CIN||51||8.9%||Lost SB|
|Mark Brunell||1996||26||JAX||50||8.2%||Lost AFCCG|
|Dieter Brock||1985||34||LAR||51||12.3%||Lost NFCCG|
|Jay Cutler||2010||27||CHI||52||10.7%||Lost NFCCG|
|Aaron Rodgers||2012||29||GB||51||8.5%||Lost Div|
|Cliff Stoudt||1983||28||PIT||51||11.8%||Lost Div|
|Dak Prescott||2018||25||DAL||56||9.6%||Lost Div|
|Phil Simms||1984||29||NYG||55||9.4%||Lost Div|
|Phil Simms||1985||30||NYG||52||9.5%||Lost Div|
|Randall Cunningham||1988||25||PHI||57||9.2%||Lost Div|
|Randall Cunningham||1992||29||PHI||60||13.5%||Lost Div|
|Aaron Rodgers||2009||26||GB||50||8.5%||Lost WC|
|Deshaun Watson||2018||23||HOU||62||10.9%||Lost WC|
|Ken O'Brien||1989||29||NYJ||50||9.5%||Lost WC|
|Russell Wilson||2018||30||SEA||51||10.7%||Lost WC|
The sack issue came back to haunt the Bengals throughout the playoffs, as Burrow was sacked 19 more times during the team's run to the Super Bowl, where they ultimately lost to the Los Angeles Rams. That meant he took 70 sacks on the year as a whole -- the third-most in NFL history when including both regular-season and postseason games.
And as Uzomah noted, Burrow was hit quite a bit more often, even when he wasn't sacked. The play that decided the Super Bowl wasn't a sack, but was still indicative of the problem. Given the history of players who get sacked this often, it's safe to say the Bengals are unlikely to get as far as they did this year unless this issue is rectified, and soon.