Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Line’s New Look for 2021

Bengals offensive line

The Cincinnati Bengals offensive line struggled in the run game and, more importantly, to protect Joe Burrow in 2020. Jim Turner was a disaster in regards to coaching style and in teaching technique. The multitude of factors led to the Burrow suffering a devastating knee injury mid-way through the year. The team brought back a familiar face in Frank Pollack to run the offensive line for 2021. The Bengals hope this and a revamped offensive line will pay dividends.

The 2021 off-season saw the Bengals add Riley Reiff to play right tackle and three more offensive linemen in Jackson Carman, D’ante Smith, and Trey Hill in the 2021 NFL Draft. Burrow’s injury and Mixon’s inability to run effectively between the tackles necessitated an offensive line overhaul as the new season comes into focus.

Cincinnati Bengals Hope Revamped Offensive Line Pays Dividends

Two intriguing Bengals offensive line prospects are Smith and Hill. Smith is a massive individual and measures at an impressive 6’5″ with nearly 36-inch arms. Smith has continually added weight since joining the team and is up to 311 pounds. Center Trey Hill is also no slouch at 6’3″ and 320 pounds. The Georgia team site noted, “(Hill was) named to the watch list of the 2020 Rimington Award, given annually to the nation’s top center…named to the pre-season watch list for the Outland Trophy (nation’s outstanding interior lineman)…second-team pre-season All-SEC, as picked by the media covering the league.” Both of these prospects may be called into action early in their rookie seasons or in the near future.

Currently, Reiff and Carmen are the significant offensive line upgrades. PFF stated Burrow, “took 32 sacks (t-2nd most) and 42 quarterback hits (t-5th most) over the first 11 weeks of the season. That falls back largely on the play of the offensive line. Jonah Williams was the only member of Cincinnati’s offensive line to record a pass-blocking grade of 70.0 or higher (75.8) in a group that was hampered not only by a lack of talent but also by injuries. Ten different players played at least 200 snaps along the offensive line for the Bengals this season.”

Frank Pollack is Biggest Addition for Bengals

Frank Pollack spent the 2018 season with the Bengals and had some solid results. Mixon had his career-best year and led the AFC in rushing with 1,168 yards and added 296 receiving yards. Pollack is bringing back his wide zone-blocking scheme that will benefit not only Mixon but also Burrow.

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In the clip below Matt Minich shows a great example of the importance of the tutelage of Pollack on the passing game from 2018. “At right tackle, Hart engages with the defensive end who is stunting inside, then comes off to pick up the looping defensive tackle. At center, Price picks up the other defensive end as he loops inside to the A-gap. This was excellent recognition and execution by both players, which demonstrates not only their own intelligence but that they are being coached to adapt to the defense.”

Bringing Out Burrow’s Best

Burrow is ready and all systems go per his surgeon to play in the opener on September 12th. The Bengals are being overly cautious with Burrow in OTA’s. Zac Taylor isn’t allowing anyone within 10 feet of the QB and said, “It’s the first time I’ve gotten to see him do that kind of stuff, so it was exciting for me,” Taylor said. “It’s good for the spirit of the team to see him back out there. We haven’t seen him practice in a long time, so that was a good sign for today.”
The team is surrounding Burrow with the best skill players and offensive lineman possible to bring out his best. The sophomore signal-caller is confident in his progress “Right now, I want to get my feet set. I’m throwing it better than I ever have before. At this point, it’s just the movement, throwing off-platform, throwing with stuff in my face that I’m going to have to keep working on. It doesn’t quite feel like where it was or where it needs to be yet, but that will be the next step in my recovery.” The revamped offensive line hopes to be the next step in paying dividends for the Bengals in proving them right.

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