“A lot of guys don’t really talk to Joe, honestly, because that’s how it is. Quarterbacks are kind of like in their own little circle, in their own little world,” Bates said. “It’s pretty cool when you got a young quarterback that has that swagger like I said. That knows he’s going to make a play. Crazy stuff. I can’t really explain it right now. But like I said, he’s going to be the face of this franchise for a long time.”
It has reached the point where not only are his teammates talking about him, but foes are now talking to him during games offering growing, grudging respect. The Titans were doing that after he made some sacks disappear with a crafty welterweight champion’s ability to bounce off the ropes.
“Most of that came after those plays I extended that they didn’t think I’d be able to do,” Burrow said. “That’s something that has kind of happened throughout my career. People don’t think of me as a guy that can wiggle in and out and extend plays and be an athletic guy, but that’s a big part of my game.”
The other franchise face, the 37-year-old Taylor, has based his offense, indeed his management of the entire team, on the daily grinding of the new age details. If the route has to be stopped at 12 yards, it can’t be 11 or 13. If the NFL Covid protocols have changed, the daily schedule must be reviewed and synced up with locker room monitors and player iPads.
So Taylor is not usually big into big-picture pronouncements. But he saw exactly what Sunday meant.
“It validates everything these guys our working toward. It doesn’t surprise any of us, but you do need to see it right in front of your face that you’ve done it, ” Taylor said. “Now we have to go do it again in the next game, and the next game. There is something to be said for that. This does mean a lot. It’s going to do great things for us this season. We needed this win going into the bye, and it verifies everything these guys are working for and believing in. Now they have it in their memory —’We’ve done this.’ And we can do it again. That’s tremendous.”
Quietly, under the radar of the omnipresent 21st century chatter and in a locker room shuttered to the media, veterans like running back Giovani Bernard have been pushing Taylor’s message. They didn’t post until Sunday.
“We know that we’re right there. We just have to continue, well one, finish the game and we were able to do that,” Bernard said. “That’s the biggest thing in the NFL. I think teams get hot at the right time. What opportunity to do we have now to be able to do that. We have this bye, (can) get our bodies fresh, get guys back, having an opportunity to start learning some things. For some guys, start actually learning the offense. It should be fun. I’m excited to be a part of this, man. It’s obviously something where with the type of year that we had, to get this type of win against a team like that, it’s huge.”