Grading The Trenches: Bengals O-Line After Four Games

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 02: Kyle Cook #64 and Cedric Benson #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrate after the 23-20 victory against the Buffalo Bills at Paul Brown Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

What We Think We Know After Four Weeks

Andrew Whitworth is an absolute STUD. He’s finally receiving recognition from national media. Some are even calling him the best LT in football. Have the Bengals had the best player at a particular position in the last 10 years? Andrew Whitworth blocking percentage is a team leading 96.1%. That means out of 255 total blocks this season, he’s only lost on 10 of them. Truly impressive.

Some of us think Andre Smith still has been a weak link on this line. I don’t agree. Yes, he has four false starts in the books, but on two of those, other players moved at the same time as Smith. Andre just happened to be called for the infraction. He’s also been at fault for two sacks on Andy Dalton. All bad plays, but he’s also the most explosive lineman on the team. He is 2nd to only Andrew Whitworth in Positive/Winning blocks with 50 out of 254 total blocks. While you remember his Negative/Losing blocks, he’s doubling his positive to negative snaps ratio (50/25).

There’s nothing wrong with Nate Livings when the Bengals are a running team. Nate is a much better run blocker than he is a pass protector. Most of us liked him during the 2009 season when the Bengals were a run-first offense. Then in 2010, the offense morphed into a pass-first offense. In result, we as fans wanted Nate Livings’ head on a stick. This season, Livings has been nothing but solid. Even against great competition in Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus last week, Livings still posted 12 Positive/Winning blocks and only 2 Negative/Losing blocks in the run game. As a pass protector, Livings was the opposite. He was dominated for the most part. Livings had 3 Winning blocks and 4 losing blocks. For the season, Livings is still at +4.0 as a pass blocker and +8.5 as a run blocker. He’s definitely winning more than he’s losing and hasn’t been the weak link.

Blocking Efficiency

Andrew Whitworth

Total Snaps: 254

Wins/Positive Blocks: 61

Losses/Negative Blocks: 10

Blocking Efficiency: 96.1%

Nate Livings

Total Snaps: 254

Wins/Positive Blocks: 48

Losses/Negative Blocks: 22

Blocking Efficiency: 91.4%

Kyle Cook

Total Snaps: 254

Wins/Positive Blocks: 40

Losses/Negative Blocks: 19

Blocking Efficiency: 92.6%

RG Combination of McGlynn and Boling

Total Snaps: 254

Wins/Positive Blocks: 48

Losses/Negative Blocks: 45

Blocking Efficiency: 82.3%

Andre Smith

Total Snaps: 254

Wins/Positive Blocks: 50

Losses/Negative Blocks: 25

Blocking Efficiency: 90.2%

This blocking efficiency shows you how often players can either have a Neutral or Winning block. You want to avoid as many Losing/Negative blocks as you can. By looking at these percentages, it’s easy to see where the strength and weaknesses of this offensive line are. RG has been a disaster and LT has been outstanding. It’s easy to see why the Bengals have favored the run game to the left. It has less to do with Andre Smith and more about the struggles at RG. If Bobbie Williams can match the other four linemen as a 90-percentage blocker, this line will go from solid to great.

Bengals Stat Nuggets

Cedric Benson has run behind a Fullback on 50 plays. He is averaging 4.9-yards per carry in those attempts. On plays without a Fullback (23 attempts), Benson is averaging 3.4- yards per carry. I think it’s safe to say that Chris Pressley is doing his job and adding a physical presence to the rushing attack.

Before the Bills game in week four, the Bengals only tried using the draw play to run the ball four times. When they did, the Bengals averaged 6-yards per carry. Jay Gruden must have noticed how well it has worked because against the Bills, the Bengals used the draw play five times averaging 7.6-yards per carry. Look for this play to become used more in this offense. Dalton was passing the ball out of the shotgun on 62 of 64 plays before the last game. Teams didn’t feel the treat of the Bengals running it and started pinning their ears back to bring the pressure. Now with the draw play in use, defenses will have to play a bit more honest or get burned at 7-yards a pop.

Keys vs Jaguars

*Watch Bobbie Williams vs Tyson Alualu and Terrance Knighton. Both are really gooid players. Alualu bring the pass rush and Knighton is their run stuffer. We’ll get a good look at how Bobbie kept himself in shape during his suspension.

*The Bengals must keep getting chunk yardage on 1st and 2nd downs like they did vs. Buffalo. The Bengals are still struggling on 3rd downs, so by staying committed to the run, Cincinnati shouldn’t be in 3rd & long situations too often.

*Jaguard DE Aaron Kampman could be playing this week after being injured. He’s drawing a tough assignment when going against Andrew Whitworth. I’ve noticed teams are starting to not even try Whitworth. Instead, they’re sending their worst pass rusher at him in the hopes that their better rusher can beat Livings or Andre Smith on the other side. Kampman played a lot of LDE in Green Bay so we could see him trying to take advantage on Andre Smith instead of Whitworth. As big Whit’s play keeps getting recognized, Andre Smith’s opponents are going to be testing him more often.

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