American Football

Is Joe Burrow the Next Tom Brady?


Is Joe Burrow the Next Tom Brady?
Mike Tanier
08 Feb 2023, 02:28pm

Bengals QB Joe Burrow

PHOENIX – Brace yourself for a Joe Burrow-Tom Brady comparison. 

Are you sitting down? Happy place envisioned? Gag reflex suppressed? Good. Now, rest assured that this one comes from a knowledgeable source: Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who faced both Burrow and Brady in a meaningful game or three over the years.

“I see a young Tom Brady,” Spagnuolo said with a wide smile when asked about Burrow earlier in the week.

“Not just his talent. I love his killer instinct. He’s a killer. And when your quarterback is like that, the other 10 around him are like that and it makes the whole offense that much better.”

What does Spagnuolo see in Burrow that is so Brady-like?  “Whether it’s the gleam in his eye or the things he says … We’re always looking at the broadcast games, with the cameras down where they can zoom in. You see him pre-snap, what he’s looking at, and even after a play: nothing bothers him, he never gets rattled.”

Feel free to roll your eyes, Patriots fans. But Spagnuolo is coaching in his fourth Super Bowl, having battled Brady’s teams to a 1-1 draw in championships as a defensive coordinator before engaging in annual AFC title duels with Burrow’s Bengals. This isn’t some hottakesman bloviating into the void.

What’s interesting to Walkthrough about Spagnuolo’s remarks is the fact that he watches television tape of opponents. Isn’t coaches’ film the only proper way to attain deep football wisdom? Apparently not. Spagnuolo certainly watches tons and tons of coaches’ film too, but there is more than one way for an experienced observer to ingest football and come away with meaningful observations. 

Walkthrough is not a huge fan of gleam-in-the-eye analysis, but Coach Spags has looked deeper into more great quarterbacks’ eyes than we have. And we got to look into the coach’s eyes when he was gushing about Burrow: this wasn’t merely a media-savvy coach telling reporters what we wanted to hear so we would go away satisfied.

“I was a high school quarterback, so I’m always partial to quarterbacks,” Spagnuolo said. “I just think the way [Burrow] operates, and the way he plays a game, he’s gonna be around a long time.

“We’re gonna have a lot of battles with him. He’s gonna win a lot of games. And I look forward to watching him later on as a fan.”

Same here, Coach. Same here.

Are the Eagles an All-In Team?

A colleague, interviewing Cowboys Hall of Fame head coach Jimmy Johnson at the FoxSports press availability, asked a question along the lines of: The trend right now is for teams like the Rams and Eagles to go all-in for the Super Bowl? Will we see more of that philosophy in the years to come?

Wait. Timeout. Since when are the Eagles an all-in team?

Jalen Hurts is still on his rookie contract. The Eagles have two first-round picks in the 2023 draft. They are also showing a $4-million paper cap surplus for 2023: not much, but nothing like what the Rams (or, lol, Vikings) face in the years to come. 

Yes, the Eagles traded aggressively for A.J. Brown and signed veterans such as James Bradberry. Yes, Fletcher Cox and others (like Bradberry) are gone next year, and Jason Kelce will retire. But the Eagles have already drafted replacements for some of their departing/retiring veterans, and they have the resources to add quality reinforcements. Making a few bold trades to help win a Super Bowl isn’t going “all in.” It’s “trying.”

Johnson responded diplomatically and with broad accuracy, noting that what the Rams did was different, and that fans should be excited when the hometown team makes daring moves. It’s the very concept of the Eagles as an “all-in” team which stunned Walkthrough. Are the Bengals an “all-in” team just because they upgraded their offensive line in 2022? The 49ers because of the Christian McCaffrey trade? Is any team not on the endless rebuilding treadmill suddenly perceived as tossing grandpa’s pocket watch into the pot like a drunk in a Wild West saloon?

Establishing benchmarks is one of the things Walkthrough does. So let’s establish some benchmarks for what constitutes an “All-In Team.” An All-In Team must:

  • Have a quarterback over age 30 with a contract among the ten largest in the NFL.
  • Possess no first-round pick in the following year’s draft; and
  • Show a paper cap deficit for the following year.

Simple, tangible and easily-attainable thresholds, right? An All-In team is paying heavily for their veteran quarterback, mortgaged some future draft capital (trading away a top pick but later getting one back is hedging a bet, which is the exact opposite of going “all-in”) and is financially leveraging itself for short-term gains at the expense of long-term consequences. 

The Rams did all of those things. The Eagles did not. And team-building philosophies are not easily lumped like political parties into only two categories.

Around the League

Sean Payton indicates that Russell Wilson’s performance team will not be welcome in the Broncos facility.

Broncos co-owner Condoleezza Rice’s performance team will be completely welcome, especially because her performance team is an M1A1 Abrams tank.

Tom Brady doesn’t plan to join the Fox announcing team until 2024.

Dude’s been retired one week and is already posting underwear pictures of himself. No one wants to learn what one year of downtime will bring. He’s gonna be like Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation creating Requiem for a Tuesday. 

49ers hire Steve Wilks as defensive coordinator

Wilks will spend a year polishing his resume with a playoff team in 2023 and emerge as the frontrunner in the still-ongoing Colts head coaching search. 

A.J. Green retires.

Last one out of Arizona please shut off Kyler Murray’s PS5.

Derek Carr visits Saints.

Mickey Loomis throws collection warnings into the fire pit, heads off to the Used Cabin Cruiser Expo. 

Aaron Rodgers to determine his future during a “darkness retreat.”

Rodgers must enter a sensory deprivation tank to think thoughts our puny brains cannot imagine, feel feelings none of us will ever be actualized enough to experience and sniff farts none of us are sublime enough to realize smell like the lavender meadows of heaven.

Chiefs Gamer Cornerbacks

Earlier in the week, Walkthrough wrote about Chiefs rookie cornerbacks Trent McDuffie, Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams. Left on the cutting room floor of that feature: the lads like to hang out and play video games.

“They can’t really touch me on Madden, so they always wanna play something like Call of Duty, because they don’t wanna get thumped too bad,” Williams said of the gaming sessions.

Apparently, McDuffie isn’t always invited. “I heard he’s good at Madden,” he said. “I heard J-Wat’s good at (NBA) 2K. I can’t say anything, because I haven’t played them yet. But when I do, I’ll let you know.”

So Williams is (probably) good at Madden. But who is his team? “I’m loyal to Kansas City when the cameras are on,” he said. “When the camera’s off, I switch it up because I like to be versatile.”

Walkthrough is 99% certain we would whup all of their asses in Civilization VI.

Tomorrow: Jimmy Johnson shares a Super Bowl story, Mike Periera discusses the legality of the tush-push sneak, and more from Phoenix!

by theslothook // Feb 08, 2023 – 2:34pm

Has Joe Burrow supplanted Allen as the defacto second best Qb in the league?

Points: 1

by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 08, 2023 – 2:50pm

I think he’s always been popular with the media. Give Trevor Lawrence a year, though, to dig himself from the Urban Mire.

I don’t see Burrow as aspiring to be Brady. I see him as aspiring to be Montana.

No OSU vet wants to be Brady anyway

Points: 2

by DavidL // Feb 08, 2023 – 2:40pm

If the Eagles can be considered an “all-in” team, it’s not because they mortgaged their future but because they’re making a run right before the roster reaches a natural turning point. Between potential retirements (Kelce, Johnson), expiring contracts for players likely to hit a free-agency payday (CJGJ, Bradberry, Sanders), one-year rentals (Suh, Joseph) and the looming Jalen Hurts extension, they don’t really have the option to just run it back next season. 

Points: 0

by Pat // Feb 08, 2023 – 2:58pm

Yeah, and the reason I keep calling Philly an all-in team is that they chose this turning point. They brought Kelce, Cox, and Graham back this year. They brought Bradberry in on a 1-year contract and traded for CJGJ without extending him. And they burned the money for Suh and Joseph.

They didn’t have to do any of those things. They didn’t do anything like that back in ’20 when the offensive line fell the *#$!( apart, because it would be pointless. And there’s absolutely a cost to all of that, because none of it is paid for in ’22 cap.

Also please stop mentioning Johnson retiring, Philly desperately needs Johnson to play like 3-ish years. I’m trying to will that into existence myself. If they can get a few years out of Johnson and go CB/DT/CB in ’23 they should be able to thread the needle with only a slight dip in ’23 (unless their health is like, perfect).

I also think saying “man, the Rams just fell apart in ’22 because they sold themselves out” is naive, too. The Rams had crap injury luck this year. They might’ve been able to make a decent run in ’22 with solid health. That’s what going “all in” does – it takes away your margin for error. And Philly also doesn’t have margin for error next year. If they crap out on their picks, they’re not in good shape in the secondary, and even with solid hits there it’s unlikely they’ll be as good next year.

Yes, Philly has an advantage over the Rams in that they didn’t throw their picks away, and they still have them. You’re still talking about a team that drafted JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Jalen Reagor, and Derek Barnett early in the draft. If they bork the ’23 draft, they’re in trouble.

Points: 0

by andrew // Feb 08, 2023 – 2:46pm

Now we need to know what video games each of the FO staff excel at.    Football Manager?  Oregon Trail?   Goat Simulator?  


Points: 0

by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 08, 2023 – 2:48pm

Tanier kept dying of dysentery.

Points: 0

by Aaron Brooks G… // Feb 08, 2023 – 2:47pm

No one wants to learn what one year of downtime will bring. 

Dude’s going to show up on his first day looking like Letterman.

Points: 0

by Pat // Feb 08, 2023 – 2:49pm

Simple, tangible and easily-attainable thresholds, right? An All-In team is paying heavily for their veteran quarterback, mortgaged some future draft capital (trading away a top pick but later getting one back is hedging a bet, which is the exact opposite of going “all-in”) and is financially leveraging itself for short-term gains at the expense of long-term consequences. 

seriously disagree with this representation of “all in.”

Totally agree that the Rams and Saints went very all-in, with extremely little margin for error. But, for instance, the “paper deficit” requirement is just totally wrong. The Browns show a paper cap deficit for next year, but it’s totally fake – it’s just because they haven’t spread Watson’s contract, which they will.

As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s much smarter to spread cap forward if you can, because you don’t have to use the space, and it’ll just cancel the hit you pushed forward.

Philly has the least salary cap flexibility of any team in the league for ’23. Period. There are no magic tricks Roseman can do to avoid that. He used all of them in the past few years, definitely in ’22. The only 2 non-fully leveraged significant players on Philly’s roster are Slay and Johnson.

And Philly does not have the kind of rookie QB that the Cardinals or Bengals do. They don’t have a 5th year option on Hurts. It’s like Prescott – they have to do something this offseason, otherwise they’re fighting the franchise tag, and it’s only 2024 that’ll stay relatively low.

So how did Philly go all in? Because Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, James Bradberry, and CJ Gardner-Johnson are all on 1-year contracts, and they’re all fully leveraged. Philly literally borrowed approximately $50M from ’23-’24 for 2022.

So no, they didn’t pull a Rams case and go crazy, and having Hurts and Brown young helps a ton. But without a doubt what they did to build this ’22 team will hurt them in ’23. No question. I don’t understand why this is even controversial. They took a huge risk, and it paid off.

Points: 0

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