Joe Burrow will soon be declared an endangered species if he doesn’t start getting better protection, and a perfect storm is brewing Sunday at MetLife Stadium:
A reeling team with alarming early signs of that dreaded Super Bowl hangover fueled by a franchise quarterback who freely fills the air with accurate footballs confronting a pass rusher hellbent on turning the corner on a soul-crushing rehab from the ruptured Achilles that cost him the 2021 season.
It isn’t so much that the Bengals missed Carl Lawson last season because free agency brought them Trey Hendrickson and his 14 sacks and an AFC championship.
The Jets missed Carl Lawson.
“We definitely got to get the quarterback down in this one,” Lawson said.
There will be more opportunities to get this quarterback down than there have been against Lamar Jackson and Jacoby Brissett. Lawson swears it doesn’t matter that Burrow wears the uniform he wore for the first four years of his NFL career.
“No, no different emotion,” he said.
Any quarterback will do after all he’s endured. Lawson signed a three-year, $45 million deal in free agency to terrorize them all.
He had a half-sack in Cleveland and the Jets are holding up a sign that reads: Beware Carl Lawson.
“I don’t necessarily put things in percentages,” Lawson said. “But the body is starting to heal faster, I’m starting to get healthier, things are going to slow down, each week I have better and better practices and things of that nature. I don’t really want to put necessarily a percent on it. I’m getting healthier, I’m getting better and each day I’m continuing the process and just working.”
This is no reincarnation of the New York Sack Exchange, but defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is looking more and more like a young Joe Klecko. “He is virtually, in my opinion, impossible to block in the run game one-on-one and in the pass game one-on-one,” defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. “He’s got game-wrecker written all over him.”
Williams will be that much more dangerous with Lawson unleashing all the tools in his pass-rush bag.
“I remember last year when he first got here, bro, everybody was getting to know him, everybody was getting a chance to see him, and his get-off was spectacular every single time he got off the ball,” Williams told The Post.
“He had a setback, but coming off the Achilles injury, bro, it’s back to square one with his get-off and the different things he does. His get-off is one of a kind I feel like and it’s amazing. And it’s something that I try to recreate, but I’m like bigger than him, so it’s kinda hard,” he said with a smile.
Lawson is 6-foot-2, 265 pounds of strong. “We call him Superman … we called him that since last year,” Sheldon Rankins told The Post. “He’s one of those special guys in this league, the way he can just impact the game down in, down out without even having to get a sack all the time is special. Just being able to take the field with him, you understand the level of dominance, the level of impact that he can truly have down in, down out, and it’s special to be able to play next to that.”
Lawson will find Bengals left tackle Jonah Williams standing in front of Burrow.
“He’s probably one of the most powerful people I’ve ever seen,” Rankins said. “With his get-off, and the moment he puts hands on an offensive lineman, it translates instantly, his power, jolting through a guy’s body. He’s not the tallest guy, doesn’t have the longest arms, but he gets off the ball, he extends that arm, what we call a long-arm move or a stab. … Guys knows what’s coming but there’s nothing they can do to stop it down in, down out. Like I said, probably one of the most powerful people I’ve seen just playing football functionally on a consistent basis. You’re starting to see it click a little bit more and more and more, shaking off the rust.”
Lawson has pushed to overcome the mental hurdles that accompany potential career-threatening injuries.
“That’s why I was definitely pushing to get reps in the preseason,” he said. “I want to get on it as fast as I can. I’m not pushing the process. The process is the process. I’m getting better. I’m working each day and I’m keeping my mind focused to get where I want to go.”
Rankins tore his left Achilles in the 2018 playoffs and underwent surgery on his right Achilles the next year to prevent another tear.
“I know what he’s going through, I know everything he’s gone through as far as rehabs and the mental place that puts you,” Rankins said, “so to be able to see him back out here, not only just playing again, but looking like his old self. … I’m happy for him.”
Lawson was happy for his former teammates getting to the Super Bowl last season. “The media used to jump on them and call them different types of things. … A lot of good dudes in that locker room,” he said.
Dudes he knows that could easily be 2-0. But are 0-2. Burrow has been sacked 13 times.
“When you watch the film, there’s a plethora of things,” Lawson said. “And you know, I think they’re definitely going to try to come out and change that and do whatever they can to make sure he doesn’t, you know, go down as much.”
He’s back to make sure he does.
This content was originally published here.