Though Joe Burrow was all but a lock to go first in the 2020 NFL draft to the Cincinnati Bengals, Washington head coach Ron Rivera still did his homework with the No. 2 overall pick in his back pocket.
That scouting he did -- based on LSU's incredible undefeated season as Burrow torched college secondaries with 60 touchdowns en route to the Heisman Trophy and a national championship -- shed a much more positive light than did the rookie's last outing in the Bengals' 36-10 loss to the Steelers.
In his ninth NFL start, Burrow struggled against a physically dominant Steelers defense as he completed 52.5% of his passes and finished with the second-worst QBR of the year (and worst since his debut in Week 1).
Still, Burrow is determined to get back on track against Washington.
“You hear me talk and I’m not too down in the dumps because I know I’m not going to play like that very often…I was talking on the sideline, and I think we’re in that game if I don’t suck in the second half and I’m not going to suck a lot,” Burrow said.
Rivera knows this. He's seen the young quarterback progress from his college days and battled setbacks in his early NFL career. Rivera wasn't able to see Burrow's struggles against Pittsburgh while Washington was busy competing against the Lions in Detroit on Sunday so he'll still have to review the film to see how the Burgundy and Gold can emulate what the Steelers did effectively on the defensive side of the ball.
Going from one No. 9 in Detroit's Matt Stafford, who threw three touchdowns for 276 yards against Washington in a last-second Lions' win on Sunday, to another No. 9 in Burrow looking for a bounce-back performance won't be an easy task.
"I think [Burrow has] played really well, I really do. I haven't seen a lot of tape yet, but I've seen a lot on TV. Just thinking back to the stuff I remember in terms of scouting him, he's legit," Rivera told NBC Sports Washington's insider JP Finlay. "He's the real deal too, he really is. He's just going to continue to grow and his team will continue to get better as he gets better."