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Steve Spagnuolo: Joe Burrow never panics in the pocket, it’s like he has six eyeballs around his head

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Chris Simms and Mike Florio break down what they have their eye on as the Bengals face off against Chiefs with the AFC Championship on the line.

If there’s one team that has made things very hard on the Chiefs in the last two seasons, it’s the Bengals.

And that’s in no small part due to Joe Burrow.

In Cincinnati’s two regular-season victories over the last two years, Burrow has completed 79 percent of his passes for 732 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s also rushed for 56 yards with a touchdown.

The numbers from last year’s AFC Championship Game weren’t quite as gaudy, with Burrow completing 61 percent of his throws for 250 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. But in a postseason where Burrow was sacked nine times in the divisional round and seven times in Super Bowl LVI, the Chiefs brought down the 2020 No. 1 overall pick just once in the conference title game.

That’s in part because of Burrow’s skill in navigating the pocket, according to Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

“Yeah, when you watch him, he just is — the word I come up with is nifty,” Spagnuolo said in his Thursday press conference. “He never panics in the pocket. It feels like he’s got like six eyeballs around his head. Seriously.”

Spagnuolo described watching a play where Burrow had a rusher coming toward him but didn’t have to do much to avoid losing his balance before firing a pass down the field.

“Yeah, he’s elite,” Spagnuolo said. “You’ve got to be more under control is the only thing I could say. We’ve worked on that. And yet, if you try to rush controlled too much you’ll never get there, right?

“But it’s both ways. We’ve got to cover really good on the back end to give our pass rushers time and then we got to find a way to finish him. Getting more guys there, I mean you want to get as many guys there as you can. It’s hard for one guy.”

Spagnuolo was also asked how he compares Burrow to Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes, since he has an up-close view of the latter.

“They’re both the same. You just hit them. I mean all those qualities you want in a quarterback and a guy who finds a way to win. Both these guys do that,” Spagnuolo said. “I don’t think anything bothers either one of these quarterbacks. I really don’t. I mean list, defensive football you say, ‘Hit the quarterback. Hit the quarterback. Hit the quarterback.’ And eventually they get happy feet or — these two guys don’t do that.

“They just line up and play the next play. That’s the most amazing thing to me about both these quarterbacks.”

After the Bengals allowed just one sack of Burrow last week — despite playing three backups along the offensive line — we’ll see if the Chiefs have any more success getting to Cincinnati’s QB on Sunday.