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Bengals Game Changing Offseason Moves: Retaining Bobbie Williams Was That Important. Yes, Yes It Was.

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Bobbie Williams.  Few people shudder when they hear the name. 

Few people may even consider him a "game changer," worthy of a post titled "Game Changing Offseason Moves." 

Let me tell you what I know about Bobbie Williams. 

Bobbie Williams was drafted in the year 2000 by the Philadelphia Eagles.  He slowly worked his way into the starting lineup over the next four years, at which time he became eligible for Free Agency.  That road brought him to the Queen City, where he immediately took over the starting spot at Right Guard.  At the time he was sandwiched between Big Willie Anderson to his right and Richie Braham to his left.  It's what you would have called an ideal situation for a new starter. 

He started all sixteen games in 2004 and 2005, then lost his starting center during the second week of 2006 in Cleveland (that was, incidentally, a horrible week that also saw the forever losses of one David Pollack and one Tab Perry.  Bad, bad, bad week).  From that point on until this past season when Kyle Cook took over quite admirably at center he played along the right shoulder of Eric "Grocery Cart" Ghiaciuc. 

He at least still had Big Willie to his right.  That is, until the 2008 offseason when Anderson was abruptly cut from the squad and replaced with former fourth-round project Stacey Andrews, who was less than stellar in his sixteen starts during the dismal 4-11-1 2008 campaign. 

Through all that, Bobbie Williams was a stalwart.  A fixture.  A man on which to be counted, who wouldn't blow his assignment or make the wrong read. 

The advent of the 2009 football season brought a lot of change.  So much change, in fact, that Bobbie Williams was the only offensive lineman who started in the same position from the year prior.  Levi Jones was gone, replaced at Left Tackle by 2008 Left Guard Andrew Whitworth.  Whitworth's vacancy at Left Guard was filled by a rotation of Nate Livings and Evan Mathis.  The gaping hole at Center (which wasn't such a rare occurrence even when Ghiaciuc was on the field) left by Eric Ghiaciuc's departure was filled by former Undrafted Free Agent Kyle Cook (whom we ended up loving).  Right tackle was supposed to be filled by first-round draft selection André Smith, but until he hit the field halfway through the season the position was manned by Scott Kooistra and Dennis Roland to positive effect. 

The only constant was Bobbie Williams. 

Is he getting a bit long in the tooth after ten years in the league?  Perhaps.  Did his pass protection drop off a touch in 2009?  It appeared that it may have, yes.  Run blocking?  Just fine. 

All that said, you may be wondering something.  Perhaps you wonder why I'm writing an article about Game Changing Offseason Moves about a player who largely goes nameless, an offensive guard who has been around for seven years. 

Let me answer that for you, and I want you take a few moments to think about my answer once you read it. 

Keeping Bobbie Williams?  That was smart. 

We can call that a Game-Changer.