There's an old football adage that "the best ability is availability," but in the coronavirus pandemic the best ability might be "adaptability."
Joe Burrow has taken a matter-of-fact, yet flexible approach as he prepares to lead the Bengals offense. It's not an easy task for a rookie with fewer practices and no preseason games, but Burrow is doing what he can to connect with teammates and learn the offense.
"Everybody has to adapt right to what we are doing right now," said Burrow. "The teams that are going to win the most are the teams that adapted the best to the situation that we are in. I feel like I've done a fairly good job at adapting to the situation, but I'll find out how I did based off the number of wins we have on Sundays."
It comes though amongst a vastly different backdrop of training camp. There will be no preseason games, fewer padded practices and more hybrid learning, with meetings both virtual and in-person depending on the situation. That new way to operate figures to last into the regular season.
One of those components is developing a rapport with his receivers. In a typical offseason, a quarterback would have organized team activities, minicamp and training camp to build a connection. Burrow has taken a more methodical approach to help accelerate the relationship and get a better understanding of what his teammates need.
"You always have to have great timing with your guys," Burrow said. "Understanding how they run certain routes, all the nuances of their body language when they run every single out.
"It's really just a back and forth. Say you are throwing individual routes and you complete it or you don't. You then come back and talk it over. How did it feel? Did you like where the ball was? Was it a little bit short? Could I get the ball out a little bit earlier? Stuff like that with continuous dialogue between quarterback and wide receiver helps."
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That process has worked so far in Burrow's football career. Burrow won the Heisman Trophy after he completed 76.3 percent of his passes last season, throwing an FBS-record 60 touchdowns and only six interceptions while leading LSU to a 15-0 record and national championship.
It's a delicate dance of not only working one-on-one with who is on the field running routes, but implementing that chemistry with the coaching staff as well. Burrow said the offseason process of studying the playbook and getting comfortable with calling plays in the huddle has helped with his transition from college to the NFL.
"It's a little bit of both," said Burrow. "The coaches are developing and understanding what I like and I am adapting to some of the things they like and we are going to put it together and make it work. I have full faith in coach (Zac) Taylor and Brian (Callahan) and (Dan) Pitcher to give me the best game plan to be successful on Sundays."