How fitting that the NFL's first modern 70-percent passer is going to be at Paycor Stadium Monday night (8:30-ESPN and Cincinnati's Channel 9) when Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow becomes the league's all-time accuracy leader on his 12th pass against the Bills.
"In the end,' says Bengals all-time passing leader Ken Anderson, "it comes down to your God-given ability to throw a football from Point A to Point B."
With his 1,500th career throw, the record books recognize Burrow's 68.5 percent as better than Drew Brees' 67.7. It took Brees' 71.2 percent to break Anderson's 39-year-old single-season record in 2011. When Anderson sifted for 70.6 percent for the 1982 Bengals, it broke Sammy Baugh's World War II mark of 70.3.
"It takes a lot of things," says Anderson, who coached NFL quarterbacks longer than the Bengals-record 16 seasons he played the position. "A lot of it is mechanics, a lot of it is footwork, a lot of it is balance.
"Football intelligence. Going through your progressions. Knowing where the open guys are and getting the ball to them. If you throw a swing pass to the running back, it does no good throwing it on his back hip," Anderson says. "Sometimes you can't follow through, your feet can't get set, or you have to throw on the run. He works at all of those things … The biggest thing is knowing where the ball is going as it's coming out of your hand."
Burrow's 70.4 last season led the NFL, but he still needs a couple of more percentage points to pass Anderson for the franchise record. Burrow is at 69.0 percent for this season with two games left, tied with Dak Prescott and behind Geno Smith's league-leading 70.7.
Since Brees broke Anderson's record, Burrow has one of the 13 seasons of at least 70 percent passing. On the all-time completion percentage list that Burrow is soon to top, the first player from the 1970s on the list is Ken Stabler at 59.8 percent and then Anderson at 59.3.
If Burrow can get it to 70 percent again, he'll be the only active player with multiple 70-percent seasons.
The two most accurate Bengals of all-time have met just once and it was after a practice back in the spring. With COVID in the past and Anderson in the process of moving back to town from Hilton Head, S.C., he hopes to get to know Burrow. The kid reminds him of what his first NFL head coach used to say.
"Paul Brown would say the game's not too big for you. You see it with Joe. In big moments, when the lights are brightest, he doesn't shrink," Anderson says.
"I think he's the whole package. Look at how he sees the game, prepares for the game. I think his mechanics are outstanding. All that goes into making a great quarterback."
FRANK TALK: Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack says the decision to switch Super Bowl starting right guard Hakeem Adeniji to tackle came before the season. With the departure of Riley Reiff and Fred Johnson, they needed tackles, plus it's Adeniji's most natural position. He agrees with Adeniji that the experience inside has helped him outside as the Bengals look to replace the injured La'el Collins at right tackle.
"It helps a ton," Pollack said after Wednesday's walk-through. "The more you know what everybody else is doing the better off you're going to be. How you fit into the big picture."
Pollack says when Collins took Wednesdays off to heal, Adeniji took the bulk of his snaps and he thinks that has also helped him.
"A lot of time on task. Being in the huddle and not holding the scout team cards," Pollack said. "He's getting technique and fundamentals just going through the huddle, getting the calls, hearing the calls, building a rapport with his guard. All that's helpful."
SLANTS AND SCREENS: Left end Sam Hubbard, out since he injuring his calf during the second quarter of the Dec. 18 win in Tampa Bay, was on the field when the Bengals began Wednesday's practice on the Paycor Stadium field …
Before Wednesday's practice, defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo compared Bills quarterback Josh Allen to tackling a tight end or former quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton.
"He's a great B gap escape guy. He can get out around but also step up into little cracks," Anarumo said. "You've got a great pocket and he's so big and strong that if you're a defensive lineman and you're engaged with an O-lineman and you stick an arm out it's like nothing to him. Other guys would fall down and get a sack, this guy is a tight end back there." …
Anarumo said Allen's college buddy, middle linebacker Logan Wilson is on the short list of "spies," charged with mirroring the 237-pound Allen, a lethal thrower and runner. Linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither is another option.
"There will be spots where everybody spies this guy at times," Anarumo said. "It could be Logan, Akeem a safety, a number of guys. We'll see where we go with that. Logan will have his chances too."