Along with the Bengals running game, the play of the offensive line was disappointing in 2011. A year after we felt that left tackle Andrew Whitworth was snubbed in pro bowl votes, he struggled badly when it came to run blocking, as did Andre Smith. That combined with the poor play of guards Nate Livings and Mike McGlynn really hurt the Bengals ability to run the ball as well as to protect Andy Dalton when they needed to. Bobbie Williams' suspension and eventual injury forced the team to turn to rookie Clint Boling and then to McGlynn to start between Kyle Cook and Smith, which didn't help the team either.
There is no question that the Bengals desperately need to upgrade their offensive line before the 2012 season, but before we get to that, here is how the offensive line grades out for the 2011 season.
Left Tackle Andrew Whitworth: Whitworth was by far the team's best pass protector, which is important considering he's Andy Dalton's blind side protector, but he struggled in run blocking. Whitworth allowed only three sacks on the season, three quarterback hits and 16 pressures, which earned him a ProFootballFocus.com score of 18.4 in pass protection. However, his -7.8 score in run blocking lowered his overall score to 13.1. Whitworth's play on the field goes hand-in-hand with his leadership off the field.
Left Guard Nate Livings: Livings started every game at left guard and, like Whitworth, struggled badly at run blocking throughout the season. Unfortunately, unlike Whitworth, he wasn't an able pass blocker. He gave up three sacks, six hits and 17 pressures earning him a pass blocking score of 0.4 and his run blocking score was an abysmal -9.1, earning him a total grade of -13.4.
Center Kyle Cook: Cook started every game at center as well. His contract was extended, along with Whitworth's, before the season began, and like Whitworth, Cook struggled in 2011. Cook was actually better at run blocking than he was in pass protection in 2011, earning a run blocking grade of 0.0 and a pass protection score of -4.8. What's interesting about Cook, though, is he played better when Bobbie Williams was playing. His running back scores were much higher when Williams was in at right guard from games four through 14. When he was surrounded by Livings and McGlynn, he struggled.
Right Guard Bobbie Williams: Williams, the team's oldest offensive lineman, was the only lineman to have positive scores in both run blocking and pass protection, though his scores weren't necessarily high. He missed the first four games due to a suspension for a violation of the league's performance enhancement substances policy and started until he broke his ankle and was placed on IR in Week 14. During that stretch, he has a pass protection score of 0.9, a run blocking score of 1.8 and an overall grade of 1.9. He allowed one sack, three hits and five pressures.
Right Tackle Andre Smith: Smith played the most in 2011 than any of his previous years combined. For the most part he played well and what was surprising was the fact that he played better when it came to pass protection than when he was run blocking. He was given a grade of -4.4 in run blocking and a grade of 4.8 in pass protection for an overall score of -1.7. He allowed three sacks, three hits and 16 pressures.
Right Guard Mike McGlynn: McGlynn came in to replace Clint Boling in Week 3, started in Week 4 and then came back in to replace Williams after he was injured in Week 14. He struggled in both pass protection and run blocking throughout the season. His score in pass protection was -3.8 and in run blocking it was -4.1 for an overall grade of -9.0. He allowed one sack, one quarterback hit and one pressure.
Right Guard Clint Boling: Boling started the season in Williams' absence but was replaced by McGlynn half way through the third week of the season. Boling's scores were almost identical to McGlynn's. He had a -3.9 in run blocking and a -1.8 in pass protection for an overall score of -6.9. He allowed five pressures.
Right Tackle Anthony Collins: Collins only started in two games at right tackle this season and when he was on the field, he played well. He had a run blocking grade of -0.9 but had a pass protection score of 4.2 for an overall grade of 4.3. He only allowed one quarterback pressure.
Tackle Dennis Roland: Roland comes in on certain plays to act as a third tackle and sometimes registers as an eligible receiver. He played in a total of 84 plays in 2011 and earned a pass protection score of 1.4, a run blocking score of -2.7 for an overall grade of -1.2.
Overall, the offensive line was disappointing in 2011. They struggled all season to block for Cedric Benson, which didn't help him make any plays throughout the season. They were decent at protecting Dalton but at times they were terrible. The last minutes of the Bengals first game against the Ravens come to mind as well as their playoff game against the Texans. Overall the Bengals offensive line deserves a grade of C-/D+ for their play in 2011.
What grade do you give them?