As we pointed out Thursday morning, we're configuring the best Bengals lineup since Cincinnati last appeared in the Super Bowl (1988 season, 1989 calendar year). We'll go through each position, provide the candidates, give you my pick, and then you guys debate/poll the winners.
Time to get down with the ogres, the ballerinas of awesome, the soul of football, the core of why football is the best sport in the country. We've already started with left tackle. Now let's move inward to left guard.
Matt O'Dwyer: From 1999-2003, Matt O'Dwyer was Cincinnati's starting left guard. He was tough, though sometimes too much. In 1997 while with the New York Jets, he was the most penalized offensive lineman in the NFL, committing 15 percent of his team's fouls (only three players had more penalties).
He's was intense, who not only played hard, but played well after the end of the play. The aggressiveness even translated into practice, getting into fights with his own teammates. In 2002, his final season as a regular starter in the NFL, O'Dwyer played every snap for the Bengals only to find his job security crushed with the arrival of Cincinnati's second-round pick, Eric Steinbach.
Eric Steinbach: Carson Palmer was to Cincinnati's quarterback prospects in 2003, as Eric Steinbach was to the offensive line. Too dramatic? We agree. Though Cincinnati had two highly productive tackles in Willie Anderson and Levi Jones, with Richie Braham calling out signals, Cincinnati needed to rebuild the guard position. They found that in Steinbach.
Not only that, he was as versatile as any offensive linemen that's played for Cincinnati and played every position with intelligence and fierce combativeness. Unfortunately his stay in Cincinnati was short-lived, playing out his rookie contract and then signing a seven-year deal with the Cleveland Browns worth $49.5 million. Not known for greatly investing in the guard position at the time, Cincinnati had no intention on matching the dollar amount and watched him flee north on I-71.