Bengals Offensive Line Offers A Couple Of The League's Best

My arguments for them haven't always been heeded. There's reasons for it, I suppose. Age. Watching a play where he loses a block that leads to a quarterback sack and then using that one play as a model of his overall playing career tends to be more widespread than not. That's a reasonable point of view, right? Though we do admit that if you notice the play of an offensive line, most likely it's the result of a bad play. After all these guys are the unsung heroes of football. There is no pass without the wide-base of a nimble offensive lineman opening passing lanes and protecting his quarterback. There is no run without the grunting and mauling of men engineered from birth with a bad temperament and a bulldozer mentality.

Without these guys, there is no football.

Now unless you're actively paying attention to them, they might go unnoticed if there's no quarterback sack or tackles for loss in the backfield. Simply put, most people fail to praise the work of an offensive line that dominates, instead praising the play of the explosive skill players. But if a quarterback holds onto the ball far too long or a running back spends most of his time hesitating in the backfield, the offensive line will often be blamed for failures that might not be their faults. If a running back fails to pickup a blitz, that's another mark against the offensive line. Fair. No. Reality, yes.

Did you know that four of the 25 quarterback sacks allowed by the Bengals in 2010 were given up by tight ends and running backs?

Cincinnati hasn't been faced with that as much as other teams. Carson Palmer was known as one of the better quarterbacks getting rid of the football before pressure got to him. And Cedric Benson, though considered a patient runner, is also instinctual finding the lane that the line opened. There wasn't so much hesitation as there is Jedi-like patience (which sometimes bites him in his soft-carrying hands that leads to fumbles).

But let's be honest. The Bengals have a couple of offensive linemen that are damn good and deserve their recognition from fans. First is Andrew Whitworth, who ranked as the league's eighth best offensive tackle according to Scouts, Inc, writing:

Whitworth has excellent size, strength and toughness with average athleticism. He has a great feel for angles and how to gain leverage with proper hand use and body positioning.

He has good strength as a run blocker at the point of attack and is able to anchor well versus powerful bull rushers. He lacks great lateral agility and quickness versus quick counter moves.

Andre Smith (62nd), Anthony Collins (71st) and Dennis Roland (72nd) all ranked inside the top-100 according to Scout, Inc's arbitrary scoring system that looks more like Madden than complex calculations that are widely known and understood.

Bengals center Kyle Cook ranks as the league's 25th best center, though Pro Football Focus graded him as the 12th best center after last season. Scouts Inc. ranked Bengals offensive guard Bobbie Williams 13th, though they largely ripped into him.

Williams is a wide-bodied guard with a lot of starting experience who gets by on his size, natural power and effort. But Williams is a limited athlete and no longer offers any upside.

He too often loses leverage. Williams also is not light on his feet and can be sloppy with his steps at times. His punch is powerful, and he has the ability to bury his opponent in the run game if he wins the initial battle.

At the same time Pro Football Focus graded Williams as the league's second-best right guard and fifth-best overall. Max Jean-Gilles (44th), Nate Livings (49th) all ranked inside the top-50.

Personally I believe that the Bengals have one of the league's best offensive tackles (Whitworth) and guards (Williams) with rising talents in Kyle Cook, Andre Smith (let's hope at least) and Clint Boling.

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