Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert, the No. 6 overall pick, had been neck-and-neck via Mybookie.ag odds to win the 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, but Burrow suffered a season-ending torn ACL and MCL on Sunday against Washington, so Herbert is now the heavy favorite to take that award.
Joe Burrow’s Season-Ending Injury | 2020 NFL Expert Analysis
In Sunday’s win over the New York Jets, Herbert passed for a career-high 366 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 116.5 rating. Herbert has five games with at least three touchdown passes this season, the most by a rookie in NFL history.
Herbert, who has 22 touchdown passes this season, is the first rookie quarterback with at least two touchdown passes in seven consecutive games in NFL history. Herbert also reached 20 touchdown passes in his ninth career game, tied with George Ratterman (nine games) as the fourth-fastest player to reach the mark in NFL history. Only Patrick Mahomes (eight games), Hall of Famer Kurt Warner (eight) and Deshaun Watson (eight) reached 20 career touchdown passes in fewer games.
Herbert has five 300-yard passing games this season, tied with Burrow (2020), Daniel Jones (2019) and Kyler Murray (2019) for the second-most 300-yard passing games by a rookie quarterback in NFL history. Only Andrew Luck (six games in 2012) has more. Finally, Herbert is on pace to shatter the NFL record for most touchdown passes by a rookie. The record is currently held by Baker Mayfield (27 TD passes in 2018), and Herbert is on pace to throw 37. Herbert is also on pace to break the rookie completion (397) and passing yardage (4,374) records held by Carson Wentz and Luck, respectively.
Burrow, meanwhile, was carted off the field in the third quarter of Sunday’s 20-9 loss at Washington. It’s no sure thing that he will even be ready for the start of next season because Burrow tore both the ACL and MCL and suffered other structural issues. Knee injuries of this nature usually sideline players anywhere from nine to 12 months, though each player heals and rehabs differently.
Burrow was 22-of-34 for 203 yards and a touchdown with one lost fumble before he went down in the third quarter. He was on pace to become the first rookie in league history to have six 300-yard passing games in his first 10 appearances. Burrow suffered an unhealthy amount of punishment early in the season. In the first five weeks of 2020, the Bengals were ranked 27th in pass block win rate and Burrow was sacked more than any quarterback in the league.
With Sunday’s loss, the Bengals are trending toward the No. 3 pick in the 2021 draft. Cincinnati has a 57.4% chance of selecting in the top five, which gives the Bengals a great chance at Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell to help protect Burrow.
Miami Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa also was in the Offensive Rookie of the Year conversation but he struggled badly Sunday in a loss in Denver and was benched in the fourth quarter for veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. The rookie completed 11-of-20 passes for 83 yards and one touchdown while taking six sacks against the Broncos. Coach Brian Flores said immediately, though, that Tua would start this week against the Jets.
Tua wasn’t injured. We just felt like it was the best move at that point of the game. We had to get in two-minute mode, and we felt like [Fitzpatrick] gave us the best chance to win the game, and we had an opportunity at the end to tie it,” Flores said.
The Dolphins trailed 20-10 when Tagovailoa was benched, with Flores saying the team needed a spark. Tagovailoa was lucky his first career interception was wiped out by a penalty. Behind an offensive line that struggled with the Broncos’ pressure, the signal-caller couldn’t diagnose where the pressure was coming from. The defeat ended the Dolphins’ five-game winning streak, and came after victories in Tagovailoa’s first three career starts.
“He’s a talented player. He’s a young player,” Flores said of Tua. “He’s a developing player. We have a lot of confidence in him. That’s why he’s the starter. … He’s got my full support. He’s got the support of the coaching staff and the locker room.”
Rather than be the Dolphins’ savior, Tagovailoa has so far looked like a game manager. Stout defense and an effective running game had powered the Dolphins to their recent winning streak. Miami opened as a 6.5-point favorite for Week 12 at the Jets.
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