Joe Burrow's success this season has caught the eye of a former Pro Bowler and Super Bowl MVP. Phil Simms, the former New York Giants quarterback and current CBS Sports NFL analyst, recently compared the Cincinnati Bengals second-year quarterback to one of the greatest passers in league history.
"When you're watching Joe Burrow, you're watching a modern-day Joe Montana," Simms said on "NFL Today" earlier this week.
Simms, during a sit-down with several media members, was asked to elaborate on his Burrow-Montana statement. Along with his comparisons to Montana, Simms said he is impressed with how quickly Burrow has bounced back from knee surgery that prematurely ended his rookie season. Through six games, the former No. 1 overall pick has completed 70.7% of his passes with twice as many touchdowns (14) as interceptions (seven). Burrow's play has led to a resurgence in Cincinnati, as the Bengals are 4-2 entering Sunday's game against the Ravens.
"I've been thinking it for about a month, 'This guy reminds me of Joe Montana,'" Simms said. "Smooth, graceful, great feet. Really knows how to move in the pocket. Throws the ball in tremendous rhythm.
"Joe [Montana] is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. … Joe Burrow's a little quicker, probably a little more athletic, and maybe a little bit of a stronger arm than Joe Montana. And just the uncanny ability to just know how to play the game, and I think that that comes from Joe Burrow's background that he was just an all-around athlete growing up. It shows when you watch him play. ... His movement in the pocket and just buying time has been really, really good for him so far this year."
Like many great quarterbacks, Burrow is benefitting from an improved supporting cast. The same was true about Montana and Simms earlier in their careers. Montana toiled on losing 49ers teams during his first two seasons before San Francisco's brass built a championship roster around him in 1981. Three years alter, after surviving a tumultuous first season in New York, Bill Parcells led a "giant" turnaround in New York. After winning just three games the previous season, Parcells guided the '84 Giants to a 9-7 record and a playoff win over Eric Dickerson's Rams. Two years later, Simms won MVP honors as the Giants won their first of two Super Bowls under Parcells.
"I think the turning point was surviving, getting to the playoffs, winning a playoff game," Simms said of his Giants teams. "Suddenly, it just changes everything you think about yourself and your football team. Going into the '85 season, I had high hopes for us. I thought, 'We're a borderline Super Bowl team.'"
Simms likes the current trajectory of the Bengals and what they've done to built around their franchise quarterback. This offseason, Cincinnati invested heavily in its offensive line and on defense. The team spent a second-round pick on guard Jackson Carman, who has already blossomed into a starter on its offensive line. It also signed veteran tackle Riley Reiff during the offseason. On defense, Cincinnati added several pieces in free agency, most notably pass rusher Trey Hendrickson, who already has 5.5 sacks this season after recording a career-high 13.5 sacks with the Saints in 2020. Cincinnati also reunited Burrow with former LSU teammate Ja'Marr Chase. The duo hasn't missed a beat in the NFL, with Chase catching five touchdowns in his first five regular season games.
"They're on the right track," Simms said of the Bengals, who can move into a tie for first place in the AFC North with a win over the Ravens on Sunday. "They can run the ball. Joe Mixon is a star. Joe Burrow and the receiving corps. Having a front four, having difference makers. That's what the league is about. You look at teams that struggle to win every week ... well, show me the difference makers. The Bengals have them.
"I think there's some toughness to them. Zac Taylor has done a really good job that way. They've made some acquisitions and let some people go this offseason, and everything seems to be working well."
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