Jump to content

Counting down until Home Opener

September 11, 2022 vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Game Dey!!!

O-line Watch 2022


ArmyBengal
 Share

Recommended Posts

Dehner, as usual, with a really good piece on this...here you go:

https://theathletic.com/3133704/2022/02/16/whats-next-for-bengals-offensive-line-assessing-all-5-spots-and-the-options/?source=rss&utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Quote

 

The Bengals found ways to win in spite of its offensive line. That’s not analysis. That’s not a bold take. That’s a fact.

Seventy sacks, a throat contusion, dislocated pinky and two knee injuries serve as Exhibits A, B, C, D and E.

Every other piece of the Bengals roster was good enough to win a championship, but it took until the final six drives of the season for the problem to finally bury them.

This isn’t about a knee-jerk reaction to the Super Bowl. Aaron Donald is being discussed as one of the five best defensive players of all time. Von Miller is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Leonard Floyd was a first-round pick.

The Rams blew up every line in their path on the road to the championship, including a well-compensated, accomplished group in San Francisco. Quite simply, games that look like that are how they are built.

It doesn’t excuse the Bengals’ offensive line issues, it merely amplified them to almost unfair levels.

Still, Cincinnati finished 30th in the NFL in pass block win rate and the 14 percent win rate in the Super Bowl was the lowest of any team in any game all season, according to NFL NextGen Stats.

It goes beyond the obvious of pass blocking. The other problems front and center down the stretch were issues in the red zone and short yardage. Much of that reverts to diminishing returns from the run game where Joe Mixon averaged just 3.6 yards per carry over the final 10 games.

And on third-and-short (1-2 yards) run plays, Mixon and Samaje Perine combined to convert 11-of-24 (46 percent), including the two empty Perine runs in the Super Bowl that will haunt head coach Zac Taylor and the Bengals while filling sports talk radio caller banks for years.

The league average for running backs is 67 percent conversion.

The same concept applies to the red zone, where two empty trips were partially the difference in the Super Bowl. Mixon scored 12 rushing touchdowns in the first 12 games, but just two over the final eight. He had to throw one to make an impact in the Super Bowl. Lacking punch to run near the goal line shows up in the drastic drop in overall red zone effectiveness.

They need power. They need protection. They need it all.

What comes next? Or more appropriately, who comes next? Last year, the return of line coach Frank Pollack and some patchwork fixes were supposed to help. The sacks weren’t all their fault. Joe Burrow takes responsibility for some, running backs take responsibility for others, receivers and on down the line.

But there’s no running from the problems against the league’s best. If the Bengals are to be three points better in the Super Bowl, it probably means at least three different bodies standing in front of Joey Franchise than did on Sunday.

The Bengals don’t need five Pro Bowlers up front, but they need no weak links. They need at least average across the board. They need stability without liabilities. That includes building better depth beyond three unproven rookies and inexperienced late-round picks.

They should aspire for better than that, but that’s the bare minimum foundation.

Let’s take a look at all five spots and weigh the options.

Left tackle: The one solid building block


The decision to be made on Jonah Williams revolves around his fifth-year option. It’s not much of one. The Bengals will pick it up, extending him through 2023. He’s proven a solid left tackle, grading 31st out of 88 overall this past year, via PFF and middle of the pack in pass blocking.

This was supposed to be a year to learn about his upside. What kind of player would Williams truly be after two seasons derailed by injury? Williams missed all of his rookie season and six games in 2020. The good news was he missed no games to injury in the 2021 season and fits the mold of what the Bengals need. If they had five Williamses, they’d currently be spraying champagne across downtown Cincinnati on the parade route.

The question moving forward would be if Williams could (or should) be moved from left tackle. The answer is complicated, which is to say nobody knows for sure. Moving him in to guard is probably not the answer. His strength lies in his athleticism and an undersized (for guard) former tackle with shorter arms doesn’t make the best transition.

Could he do it? Probably. Potentially. But that’s not the best path.

If a major free agent was available and the Bengals were willing to go nuts and spend for a guy like Terron Armstead, adding to the lineage of former Saints on this roster, would sliding Williams to the right side be an option? I’m not under the impression the Bengals would rule that out, but the idea of spending $20-plus million for one spot when they need to improve four feels unlikely knowing their historical approach to the problem and level of comfort with Williams continuing to improve and holding down the left tackle spot for the next two years.

Right tackle: Run it back?


The Bengals found exactly what they desired in signing Riley Reiff last March. A reasonable, reliable veteran to hold down the right side. When healthy, he provided stability and leadership to a generally young group and essentially a more experienced version of Williams as a bookend. Bringing Reiff back, a tone-setter where you know exactly what you are getting, even at the age of 33, could make sense to provide relief.

He graded far lower than at any point in his 10-year career in pass blocking, but how much was that due to the circumstances around him? That’s a major factor. Considering the market for tackles, bringing him back at a similar $7.5 million figure could be in play, but they will be weighing other options.

The question surrounds the wear-and-tear for Reiff now a decade in and having ankle surgery in December. There’s not much concern of lingering effects from the injury, but any player at that age as a free agent has to consider how long they plan to do this and teams have to weigh how long they can do it at a quality level. That will be for both sides to evaluate in the next month.

There’s hope that D’Ante Smith could grow into a role as a swing tackle next season or maybe Isaiah Prince takes another step. Smith showed promise and the potential to push into guard where he performed well in camp is a plus as a depth piece. If Smith develops to the point he hops a player of Reiff’s level, that’s a fantastic development. If not, a veteran represents a reliable starter.

We’ll have to see what tackles surface when cap casualties occur, but names like Duane Brown (Seahawks, 36), Morgan Moses (Jets, 30), Eric Fisher (Colts, 31), Trent Brown (Patriots, 28) and Germain Ifedi (Bears, 27) represent the notable free-agent options.

Center: New blood


Trey Hopkins has meant a lot to this franchise and represents a huge reason they reached the Super Bowl. His intelligence in front of Burrow is unmatched and his cerebral nature pays off in keeping the group cohesive.

His ability to grind back from an ACL tear in Week 17 last year was incredible and he worked through that rehab throughout the season, even taking practices off just trying to keep the knee fresh for gamedays. It affected his performance, without question.

That notwithstanding, Hopkins holds a $6 million savings against the cap if the Bengals cut off this last year of his deal and minimal dead money. He will turn 30 in July.

Perhaps they hold on to him and see what happens in free agency and/or the draft, then potentially cut him if they find a replacement. There’s also a chance they keep him on as a reliable leader and backup player if Hopkins would be interested in that at a lower figure. Certainly, what we saw from rookie Trey Hill was uninspiring in his limited action this year.

The bottom line is the Bengals need to do better at the spot and there are options. Two notable ones: Tampa Bay’s Ryan Jensen and Tennessee’s Ben Jones.

Jensen played in the division, starting his career in Baltimore before signing a big deal with the Buccaneers in free agency. He’s played for an alpha quarterback in Tom Brady and won a title, which would seem a natural transition snapping to Burrow. He’s 30 years old.

Jones might be the better fit, though he’s 32 years old. He thrives in a zone-heavy scheme and was a top 10 center by all major PFF metrics each of the last three seasons. Neither would break the bank but would take more investment than the Bengals have ever made at an interior offensive line position.

There would be hope in the draft that Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum slips to the bottom of the first round. That’s unlikely but not totally out of the question, according to Dane Brugler, as some have even projected him in the top 10-15 spots. The next true center listed by Brugler is Dylan Parham, of Memphis, all the way back at No. 70.

If looking for real answers now, those probably start with luring one of the two free agents.

Changing of the guards


The flip side of the vindicated correct choice in selecting Offensive Rookie of the Year Ja’Marr Chase in the first round was the chance taken by waiting until the second round to pluck an offensive lineman for reinforcements.

Jackson Carman’s disappointing rookie year where he was benched multiple times and couldn’t replace a struggling Hakeem Adeniji backfired on the NFL’s biggest stage. He needs maturity. He needs consistency. He needs to figure it out in a hurry or he’ll wash out of town much as Michael Jordan did after three tumultuous seasons.

Can the Bengals rely on him as an answer? No. Can they rely on Adeniji? Clearly not. Maybe Smith emerges or Hill shakes off his many rookie miscues. Those are optimistic thoughts, but can’t be depended on.

Quinton Spain was the best of the bunch, coaches love his attitude, fit and he enjoyed long stretches of quality play. Still, he showed wear and tear down the stretch. He finished the year graded by PFF 44th out of 88 qualifying guards and 53rd in pass protection. There’s value in that. There will be interest in returning Spain to be in the mix, especially considering how manageable his cap number should be, but he certainly would not have a starting spot guaranteed.

The Bengals have never spent premium money on the guard position. Last year was no different. They never considered Joe Thuney at the top of the market and got caught in a low-ball offer to Kevin Zeitler, who ended up in Baltimore. Part of the issue was the guard market was thin. The good news is there will be more options at that position in the mid-level than last season.

Notable names beyond the top-of-the-market Brandon Scherff (Commanders, 30) are Laken Tomlinson (49ers, 30), Connor Williams (Cowboys, 24), James Daniels (Bears, 24), Austin Corbett (Rams, 26), Andrew Norwell (Jaguars, 30) and Alex Cappa (Buccaneers, 27).

Taylor and director of player personnel Duke Tobin made a point in recent years of keeping the vast majority of their free-agent signings of players in their mid-20s, preferring the youth on the second contract. It served them well. Keep that in mind, especially when considering the draw of somebody like Corbett who played in a similar system in Los Angeles and thrived after being traded by Cleveland in the middle of the 2019 season. He allowed just three sacks all year and one pressure in the Super Bowl.

It’s possible the Bengals look to the draft to help fix the issue. Brugler points to Boston College’s Zion Johnson as a plug-and-play starting guard, who could move to center if necessary. If the goal ends up to draft a starter at 31, there will be options that could start immediately.

But it brings up the old concern as they have spun their wheels drafting offensive linemen for nearly a decade. If looking for a common thread within many Bengals teams that failed to meet expectations, this list would be the first submission.

2021

• Jackson Carman, second round (No. 46)
• D’Ante Smith, fourth round (No. 139)
• Trey Hill, sixth round (No. 190)

2020

• Hakeem Adeniji, sixth round (No. 180)

2019

• Jonah Williams, first round (No. 11)
• Michael Jordan, fourth round (No. 136)

2018

• Billy Price, first round (No. 21)
• Rod Taylor, seventh round (No. 252)

2017

• J.J. Dielman, fifth round (No. 176)

2016

• Christian Westerman, fifth round (No. 161)

2015

• Cedric Ogbuehi, first round (No. 21)
• Jake Fisher, second round (No. 53)

2014

• Russell Bodine, fourth round (No. 111)

Should the Bengals dive into the draft market again? Sure. There’s zero harm in trying to hit on draft picks at the most significant position of need. But if allocating their assets entering the offseason, the $70 million in cap space should be viewed as a way to retain their own significant free agents and find multiple line solutions. Everything that happens in the draft in April can be viewed as a cherry on top or depth in the pocket.

The dynamics of all this will shift as the offseason unfolds, cuts are made and the team itself focuses more on the offseason approach.

In the meantime, the group is just 72 hours removed from the Super Bowl. Vacations are in order and needed after a seven-month grind to one of the most incredible runs in Bengals’ history. These issues await them upon their return and the personnel staff will catch everybody up.

 

Quote

 

Taylor pointed out Wednesday he was proud of the work his line did and they did do enough to get them to the Super Bowl. That’s what needs to be said by the head coach at this moment and those players deserve that respect even if they experienced their own issues.

That’s all fine, but there will be change. That’s expected. It’s coming. You never know how free agency and the draft will play out, but the Bengals know they need to focus on that area and have the assets to do it.

Keeping Burrow upright and the Bengals on a path back to the Super Bowl will depend on it.

 

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Moses and Norwell are the two players I keep looking at as potential options for the Bengals.
Not top end money, but both would be viewed as upgrades for both the OT and OG spots respectively.

Norwell would have some extra motivation coming back home to play.  I'd get in on that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can't argue much with Dehner there. Something like Jonah - Williams - Jensen - 31st pick - Reiff/cap casualty, with Hopkins, Carman, Smith and Spain as primary reserves is probably about as much as we can hope for. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's 3 new starters out of 5, so yeah, that would be a lot to hope for. It is where my hopes are. Four out of five new starters seems unlikely to me. Probably 3 out of 5 new unlikely as well, but it is what I want. With two of those three FAs...

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

FWIW, Malik Wright, whose insider knowledge of the team this past season has been 100 percent accurate, was asked if he had any read on what the team planned to do on the line. His response was, "I do," which he declined to elaborate on. He also suggested that someone who took Zac's comments on the oline to mean they weren't going to go after FA OL should "relax." 

Again, FWIW. But I find that somewhat calming.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 minutes ago, HoosierCat said:

FWIW, Malik Wright, whose insider knowledge of the team this past season has been 100 percent accurate, was asked if he had any read on what the team planned to do on the line. His response was, "I do," which he declined to elaborate on. He also suggested that someone who took Zac's comments on the oline to mean they weren't going to go after FA OL should "relax." 

Again, FWIW. But I find that somewhat calming.

Did you hear that TJ ??  I think that someone was you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, HoosierCat said:

Can't argue much with Dehner there. Something like Jonah - Williams - Jensen - 31st pick - Reiff/cap casualty, with Hopkins, Carman, Smith and Spain as primary reserves is probably about as much as we can hope for. 

Didn’t like the RT portion.  Imo, you can’t run back Rief and just the same group. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In an almost perfect world for me:

LT- Terron Armstead (FA)
LG- Jackson Carmen
C- Ryan Jensen (FA)
RG- Zion Johnson (Rookie)
RT- Jonah Williams

Do I really think that’s going to happen ??
No, but I can dream right ??

This scenario involves Carmen taking snaps ONLY at the LG position from day 1. No more moving from one position to the next. The left side is natural for him and the hope would be him coming back stronger in year two. Couple that with playing between Armstead and Jensen and my concerns lessen.

Someone make me feel good and tell me that’s doable !!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 minutes ago, ArmyBengal said:

In an almost perfect world for me:

LT- Terron Armstead (FA)
LG- Jackson Carmen
C- Ryan Jensen (FA)
RG- Zion Johnson (Rookie)
RT- Jonah Williams

Do I really think that’s going to happen ??
No, but I can dream right ??

This scenario involves Carmen taking snaps ONLY at the LG position from day 1. No more moving from one position to the next. The left side is natural for him and the hope would be him coming back stronger in year two. Couple that with playing between Armstead and Jensen and my concerns lessen.

Someone make me feel good and tell me that’s doable !!!

PFF is stoking the Armstead to Cincy flame. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just stoking disappointment. The Bengals are not signing Armstead and not only am I ok with that, I don’t want him. He will be 31 well before the season starts, has never in his entire career played a full season (and missed a career high 9 games in 2021) and would cost enough to sign two quality lineman with money left over. Armstead would be Waynes all over again. Pass.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, AMPHAR said:

Didn’t like the RT portion.  Imo, you can’t run back Rief and just the same group. 

I don't think Dehner was saying Reiff "and same group" but Reiff and new RG and LG and C? I could see that. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 hours ago, Wraith said:

As for "too little, too late" which moves would you have asked them not to do in lieu of oline....Trey Hendrickson?  Chido Awuzie?  Mike Hilton?  Ja'Marr Chase?

I get what you're saying here, but they had money to sign other FAs and didnt.

this isnt a case of "in lieu of".....even after all the defensive FA signings we had money and opportunity to get an additional veteran FA OL, which might have made the difference....and yes, there were veterans available late in addition to Reiff

we could done both, and we shoulda done both

BTW, my alleged outrage has calmed a bit.  I get it, its coachspeak and all that.  All I am saying is that the message had better change and the actions taken had best show the commitment to vastly improving the protection for New Guy

and I do mean V A S T L Y.

To further clarify.......I dont count on draftees helping in 2022.  The vast improvement I am calling for has to - M U S T - come in Free Agency, for the here, the now, the present, the 2022 season.

I do want high draft picks as well since the need for quality protection for New Guy goes hopefully well into the future as well

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mem: thanks for posting that article.  It was as others have said a very good read.   I think he underplayed the possibility of Jonah moving to OLG a bit too much, but I also think it was good for the members of this forum to see Spains full season numbers, which are right about average overall despite him having a very good start, which mathematically means his production was below average later on

Army: yeah, I doubt I will ever be pissed at any of the regulars here except the one I have blocked, and thats a different member whose name starts with A.  But I think the possibility of Jonah moving to ORT (or OLG, which I think is a better possibility) is, uhhh, complex.   First, does Pollack believe he will be markedly better at ORT or OLG?  If the answer is no, then the question stops here.  If he would be better elsewhere, the next question goes to Jonah himself.  Is he truly willing to do it?   If willing but reluctant, skip it.  Lets say he should move, and he is willing to move......next question is who is our new OLT  -- IN ADDITION TO who is our new ORT if the move is to OLG.  I think the Pollack evaluation and discussion with Jonah steps can start more or less right away so that the answer is known by the time the FA period starts and we can target OL FAs more appropriately to our revised needs

(to be clear - Jonah'd imo have to project as MUCH MUCH MUCH better at OLG that OLT to even consider making such a move.  I defer to Pollack on this one.  Pollack can...and probably already is...musing over such topics as we speak.  Hopefully he's also thinking about Adeniji at ORT rather than ORG, since it just aint workin' at ORG.

Ear: I hope so. Thanks.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

26 minutes ago, membengal said:

I don't think Dehner was saying Reiff "and same group" but Reiff and new RG and LG and C? I could see that. 

I meant same group as in RT.   Reiff would be fine, but I think you have expect him not to start 17 games.    Meaning Reiff, Fred, and Prince.    I think Reiff should be an insurance policy against a decent RT draft pick and/or one of the young existing OL being moved there.   I think Fred and Prince should be fighting for the last tackle spot entering TC and maybe neither make it.

Things began to fall apart dramatically when Reiff went down and I think that's because it was harder slide protection towards high level rushers.  Just a guess.   You have to have confidence to put your edge protector on an Island (no help). Prince and Fred do not give you that.  

Jonah gives them that on the LT.  Reiff was a big improvement over Hart (not perfect).  When they could get confidence on the edge that's when the interior warts really showed 2nd half of the season.   

Jonah, Reiff, Smith, and ?????   I think they typically keep 4.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

39 minutes ago, HoosierCat said:

Just stoking disappointment. The Bengals are not signing Armstead and not only am I ok with that, I don’t want him. He will be 31 well before the season starts, has never in his entire career played a full season (and missed a career high 9 games in 2021) and would cost enough to sign two quality lineman with money left over. Armstead would be Waynes all over again. Pass.

I do think they will balk a giving a massive deal based on age.     However,  I do think they take an opposite approach to tackle vs. guard.    I could see them signing a tackle to decent money.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

42 minutes ago, AMPHAR said:

I do think they will balk a giving a massive deal based on age.     However,  I do think they take an opposite approach to tackle vs. guard.    I could see them signing a tackle to decent money.

If they spend big anywhere it will almost certainly be tackle. The FO appears bound and determined to go down with the ship on the matter of "IOL isn't worth paying for."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's the thing about Jonah Williams. While imo the jury is still out whether he's a franchise left tackle, the facts are this: in 2019, he missed the whole season due to injury. In his second year (really his rookie year) in 2020, he missed six games due to injury. In the other 10 he gave the team over 600 snaps and repped a solid 70 grade on pff. in 2021 he played 20 games, gave the team more than 1,300 snaps, and graded out above 77.

Nowhere in that sequence do I find a compelling argument to move him off LT. In fact, given that tackles usually take 2-3 years to ramp up from college to NFL levels, 2022 is exactly the year I want to see him at LT. If he continues to progress as he has, then we know we have our franchise guy. If not, *then* I think about a move to RT.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 minutes ago, TJJackson said:

well, the FO can watch the same game film we did.....where the ORG keeps getting blown up over and over and over and......anyone who watches that film and maintains that IOL still isnt valuable/important is just idiotic beyond words

I agree, but you know how they have always rolled. We'll see if they pull their heads out of their collective ass this time around.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...