With Joe Burrow out for the year, Bengals will stick with Jake Browning at QB

With Joe Burrow out for the year with a wrist injury, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said the team will stick with Jake Browning as its starting quarterback going forward.

"I think guys think really highly of Jake and respect the work he puts in," Taylor said in his Friday press conference. "I can't speak enough to the types of questions that he asks. He asks difficult questions in the meetings to make sure that he's prepared. … There’s so much to cover over the course of a week. That is the job of a backup quarterback, again, you're an extension of the coaching staff and sometimes you’ve got to [say], ‘Hey, let’s make sure we talk about this also.’

"So Jake's always done a good job with that, as good as anybody I've been around. And that’s prepared him to go into a moment like this. And, again, go in on a short week at Baltimore versus a really good defense and give us a chance to move the ball."

Browning had to enter the game with 2:20 left in the second quarter after Burrow suffered his wrist injury on Cincinnati's previous touchdown drive. The fifth-year quarterback out of Washington then led the Bengals to a field goal to start the second half. But the club did not gain any more first downs until late in the fourth quarter when the game had been decided, with Browning throwing a 2-yard touchdown to Ja’Marr Chase.

Browning finished the game 8-of-14 passing for 68 yards, adding 40 yards on four rushing attempts.

“[W]hat I thought was so special about him was how confident and calm he was,” Taylor said. “And that allowed me to call everything that was on the menu and not have to dumb it down because a new guy's coming into the game. So, that gave me confidence. I felt the team had the confidence, the coaching staff had that confidence.

“Jake’s worked for this opportunity his entire life. He's prepared the right way. He’s in the building as much as anybody on this team waiting for moments like this — obviously not [wanting] the way it happened to Joe. But that's the life of a backup quarterback. And so really proud of the way he went in there with a calm attitude and was able to execute the plan, and give us a chance to move the ball, and score some points.”

Because Burrow missed nearly all of training camp with a calf injury, Browning took a lot of first-team reps he otherwise wouldn't have had during the summer. That time with the starting offense should help Browning going forward.

“He's got more reps than any No. 2 quarterback in the league in training camp and so, these are the moments where that helps,” Taylor said. “That's why he was able to go in with taking no physical, full-speed reps with the ones last week and be able to go execute and have confidence in the guys. So, that’s encouraging to see from Jake and I expect to see more of that going forward.”

Browning has been with the Bengals since 2021, so he's plenty familiar with the playbook. He'd thrown only one regular-season pass before Thursday night, which was in the Week 1 loss to Cleveland. But Taylor said he feels “very confident that he can do all the things we ask our guys to do in our offense.”

The Bengals also have A.J. McCarron on their practice squad. Taylor said they'll likely look to add another quarterback for depth.