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Blitzes, Haircuts, and Calves – Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow Finds a Common Thread



Call it the reverse Samson.

Unlike the Biblical character Samson, who feared cutting his hair would sap him of his strength, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow visited his barber this week looking to reclaim some of his mojo after a career-worst performance in the 24-3 loss to the Browns on Sunday.

Joe Burrow Ready for Baltimore Ravens in Week 2

After several minutes of questions about his calf, rebounding from a bad game, and the Baltimore defense, the freshly coifed Burrow was asked how he knows when it’s time to get a haircut.

“When you have a game like that on Sunday,” he said in reference to going 14 of 31 for a career-low 82 yards.

A few minutes later, as the news conference was winding down, Bengals radio play-by-play announcer Dan Hoard asked Burrow if he was serious about the haircut being related to his performance or just joking.

“A little of both,” Burrow said before leaving the dais.

If anyone was expecting to see a sullen, brooding Burrow after Sunday’s struggles instead of the guy with jokes, they might be new to these parts.

Whether it’s the persona he projects in front of cameras and microphones or the demeanor he displays in meeting rooms and walk-throughs with his teammates and coaches, Burrow rarely fluctuates.

Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan was asked what Burrow is like after a bad game.

“The same as he is after a good one,” Callahan said. “That’s the name of the game in the NFL. There’s 17 games, and you’re gonna play well in some and not in others. Some defenses are tough matchups, and some games you play outstanding, and some games you struggle to score points.

“As long as you never ride the rollercoaster of emotional reactions to things and come in and fix things that need to be fixed — when you win, and you lose — you can move on and get ready for the next one.”

Burrow said he thinks that’s an accurate portrayal.

“I would like to think so,” he said. “Everybody has bad games. That’s going to happen, and what makes you who you are and hopefully makes you the player that you are is how you respond to games like that and how consistent can you be afterwards.”

It’s one thing to put forth that steady persona, but what about what happens on the inside after a game like Sunday’s?

“Yeah, you definitely don’t feel the same after a loss as you do after a win. I think that’s what mental toughness is is being able to maintain a steady emotional state when things maybe aren’t going great,” Burrow said.

Things haven’t been great for several weeks since Burrow suffered a calf strain in the second practice of training camp. He recovered in time to play in the season opener, but the calf still isn’t 100 percent.

Burrow continues to appear on the injury report, but he was a full participant in every practice last week and again today. How did Burrow’s calf check out after playing 52 snaps Sunday?

“It felt good,” he said. “Obviously a little sore, but felt good.”

The Browns, under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, blitzed Burrow on 41.2% of his dropbacks Sunday. That was the fourth-highest rate in the league in Week 1.

Last year the Browns’ two lowest blitz percentages came in their games against the Bengals — 15% in the Week 8 game in Cleveland and 11.4% in the Week 14 Cincinnati win at Paycor Stadium.

The book on Burrow is not to blitz him. But Schwartz always has been an aggressive defensive coordinator, and the Browns knew Burrow’s calf wasn’t 100 percent, so they came after him.

“We didn’t handle it well on Sunday,” Burrow said. “Obviously, we didn’t handle much well on Sunday. So you live, and you learn.”

Burrow said he’s still “feeling it out” when it comes to his comfort level with scrambling.

The Ravens went from ranking seventh in blitz percentage (38.3) under Wink Martindale in 2021 to 21st (21.8) last year in Mike Macdonald’s first season as defensive coordinator.

And Macdonald was even more conservative against Burrow, blitzing him 6.8% of the time in the regular-season finale and 7.9% in the Week 5 game at Baltimore.

Those were by far the Ravens’ two lowest blitz rates of the season. Then in the Wild Card game, Macdonald blitzed 16.2% of the time, meaning three of his four most conservative game plans were against Burrow and the Bengals.

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That and the Ravens’ ability to tackle really well forced Burrow and the Bengals to claw for every yard and point they could get in the three meetings.

“Teams that play that softer style of defense — keep it in front, limit explosives and all that — you try to get guys in space underneath, and we did,” Callahan said.

“But we didn’t get anything really after the catch. They were pretty dynamic in how quickly they could get guys wrapped up and on the ground. And we didn’t break a lot of tackles. That’s what made it feel challenging. They did a nice job tackling in the open field. They really were pretty darn good at it.”

There are few unknowns when division rivals square off, but there is some mystery as to whether the Ravens will stick with what Macdonald did last year against the Bengals or if they’ll really come after Burrow to get an early gauge of the confidence and comfort levels with his calf.

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NFL Fans Roast Chicago Bears as Reports Surface of $100,000 Theft




The Chicago Bears have had a doozy of a start to their 2023 season.

The team began the year 0-2, losing both games by double digits. Quarterback Justin Fields has been disappointing to begin his third pro season, notching a meager 70.7 passer rating and averaging just 31 rush yards per game. When asked to explain his subpar play, he was quick to critique his coaching staff.

Then defensive coordinator Alan Williams resigned abruptly, citing “personal issues.” Soon thereafter it came to light (per The New York Post) that law enforcement raided Williams’ home and Bears HQ at Halas Hall in “connection with an undisclosed incident.”

That’s enough headaches for most franchises to begin a season, but the Bears wound up in yet another bizarre headline today.

$100,000 Worth of Equipment Stolen From Soldier Field

The Bears had a large amount of expensive equipment burglarized from their home stadium, Soldier Field, overnight Wednesday into Thursday. Luca Serra, director of marketing and public relations at Soldier Field, confirmed that bizarre headline to ESPN.

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The equipment taken was not of the football variety, the Bears should still have shoulder pads and helmets ready to go for their Sunday clash at Arrowhead with the Kansas City Chiefs. Instead, a number of ride-along mowers and John Deere Gator utility vehicles were nabbed from Chicago’s home field.

Much in this bizarre story remains unclear. For instance, did the actors have a trailer or at least a couple of flatbeds to stow their coupe in (or on)? Or did they ride away on the motorized horses they captured? And Soldier Field isn’t exactly secluded. How did these thieves manage to go undetected in the heart of a bustling metropolis like Chicago?

The actors ripped down a protective fence to get after the equipment they coveted. And as noted above, the thieves got away with six figures worth of lawn care equipment. If there’s any leads as to the actor’s whereabouts, they’ve not been released to the public. Speaking of the public, they’ve expectedly had a field day with the Bears’ multitude of misfortunes.

Chicago will now attempt to refocus and, ahem, bear down in hopes of getting back on the right track ahead of their Week 3 matchup with the … Kansas City Chiefs. That is the undefeated, reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs; quarterbacked by a young man in Patrick Mahomes who the Bears once famously passed on in the 2017 NFL Draft.

That old adage about rainfall portending heavier rainfall rings especially true in Chicago right about now.

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Jets QB Aaron Rodgers Shares Injury Update on Wild Pat McAfee Interview




Aaron Rodgers’s first season with the New York Jets ended abruptly. Four plays into the season opener against the Buffalo Bills, the future Hall of Fame QB went down with what we now know is an Achilles injury, ending his first season as a Jet before it started.

Various reports have circulated since Rodgers’ injury suggesting the veteran signal-caller could return sooner rather than later, some going as far as to suggest Rodgers may return if the Jets can advance to the playoffs.

While it is easy to scoff at these notions, Rodgers admitted that some players, namely RB Cam Akers, came back in 4.5 months, significantly earlier than the traditional timeline for an Achilles injury. While this also isn’t the norm and needs to be taken with a grain of salt, every Jets fan in America held out hope of seeing Rodgers again in 2023.

What’s the Latest Aaron Rodgers Injury Update?

As he does on a weekly basis, Rodgers joined Pat McAfee during The Pat McAfee Show. The two know each other well, and Rodgers has opened up on the show before. In fact, it was the venue where Rodgers announced he would be traded to the Jets.

Rodgers opened up about the injury and was transparent about expectations.

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“Some of the things that were reported about the type of surgery that I had were factual. I don’t wanna get caught in a timeline, but I’m gonna do everything that I can to put myself in a position to play football again at some point.”

Rodgers didn’t want to get Jets fans in an uproar and refrained from giving any hope he would return this season, which remains a longshot. Using the terminology “again” implies that Rodgers is intent on returning to the football field but admitted that an injury of this magnitude made him question whether he would play football after this.

Pat McAfee and his counterpart, A.J. Hawk, provided deep-dive journalism into Rodgers’ rehab and various recovery methods. Hawk, a former teammate of Rodgers for nine seasons, has deep inside information on the Jets signal-caller.

Hawk inserted, “I was under the impression [Rodgers] was drinking his own p*ss every single day. That’s why I thought you were so good, and you have such a quick release. Is that not true?”

Rodgers kept his cool, facing his buddies’ version of the firing squad, and denied the allegations.

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Why Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase Doesn’t Think Joe Burrow Is Playing, and What He Told His OC in Their 1-on-1




Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins had his say Thursday, and Ja’Marr Chase offered his thoughts today. And they’re not encouraging for those who want to see quarterback Joe Burrow play Monday night.

Chase made it clear he doesn’t know the answer.

Does Ja’Marr Chase Think Joe Burrow is Playing on Monday?

But if he had to guess?

“If I had to guess, I would say ‘no,’” Chase said. “I’ve been tellin’ him ‘no.’ My answer never changed. I told him back then, ‘don’t play until you 100 percent ready to play.’ So I don’t know what he’s doin’.”

Burrow was upgraded to limited after sitting out Thursday’s practice, but Chase said today most involved the quarterback throwing routes on air.

Seeing Burrow throw was new from yesterday, but the most striking thing anyone saw today — media, players, and coaches — was team owner Mike Brown driving his cart up to where Burrow was taking part in team stretch and telling him to get on.

Brown took Burrow for a short lap, said what he said, and dropped him back off where he found him. Brown is an engaging personality the players genuinely enjoy talking to. Burrow was not smiling or laughing when he jumped off the cart.

WCPO-TV’s Caleb Noe was rolling when it happened.

“We definitely was lookin’ at that like, ‘that’s new,’” Chase said. “Mr. Brown is talkin’, and he’s talkin’ to Joe, and he’s on a cart ridin’ around talkin’ to Joe? We knew somethin’ was wrong right there. Usually, he’s just chillin’ back watchin’ the practice and just smilin’ and laughin’ and bein’ himself.”

“That was different,” Chase added.

A lot of things are different around the Bengals these days, including the ability to get Chase the ball down the field, which is something he called for earlier in the week.

Head coach Zac Taylor and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan both dismissed Chase’s comments as typical of great players who want to help the team win. But Chase said today he sat down with Callahan after saying what he said to reporters Monday.

“I basically had a 1-on-1 with Cally, just told Cally what was goin’ on,” Chase said. “We just went back to the basics. Same old stuff. Just making sure we get our playmakers the ball in space. We gonna take our shots when we get the right defense and opportunity, but other than that, we still gonna take our shots.”

“I’m a playmaker. I 100 percent believe that in myself,” Chase continued. “Everyone on this team knows I’m a playmaker. That’s my job to be a playmaker. I play this game with a lot of passion, and when I don’t make plays, I get on myself about it.”

With the possibility of Jake Browning making his first career start Monday night, Chase said the onus is on him, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and running back Joe Mixon to make things as easy as possible or a backup quarterback thrust into a huge spot where the team cannot add another loss to it’s 0-2 start.

“It’s gonna be on the receivers,” Chase added. “We gonna have to get open. We can’t blame that on the quarterback. Mixon gonna have to do his job, and the receivers are gonna have to get open. It’s the NFL, and everything’s not gonna go our way. We’ve got to play hard and play physical and play fast. That’s how we win games.”

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On Thursday, Taylor said the 0-2 start was “perceived adversity” because there is still a lot of season left.

Would not having Burrow on Monday be real adversity?

“Yeah, that’s adversity. That’s 100 percent adversity,” Chase said. “It’s stuff we’ve never dealt with.”

Listen to the PFN Bengals Podcast

Listen to the PFN Bengals Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Bengals Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Bengals Podcast on our NFL YouTube channel.

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