With the Bengals sitting at 6-0 heading into the by week, any sort of criticism of the team can feel nit-picky. However, there is a trend coming from the Bengals' offensive line this year that has not been discussed much because of how well they and the rest of the team have been playing. I'm talking about penalties.
The Bengals' offensive line has only allowed Andy Dalton to be sacked six times this season. That's the second lowest number of sacks allowed in the NFL, beaten only by the Jets. Even with Jeremy Hill struggling, the Bengals have racked up the seventh most yards (733) and second most touchdowns (nine) on the ground this season.
The problem is, the Bengals' six offensive lineman who've committed penalties comprise less than 10 percent of the total roster, yet, they are committing more than 30 percent of the team's penalties. Clint Bodine, Andrew Whitworth, and Andre Smith in particular have amassed a total of 10 penalties between them; Russell Bodine is the worst offender on the offensive line with four.
Those penalties have cost the Bengals' offense a total of 110 yards, slightly more than a full football field. That sort of negative impact is frightening. But, the Bengals have managed to avoid significant pitfalls resulting from this worrisome trend. After all, they are 6-0 so they can't be hurting too much, right? The problem becomes how long they can continue to overcome the sloppy play and keep it from affecting the team's stock.
Russell Bodine is not only the most penalized lineman, he's the most penalized player on the Bengals' offense. His four penalties have cost the Bengals a total of 35 yards, which is tied for the fifth worst among all NFL players so far this season. He has been criticized throughout his career for poor blocking and poor snapping technique, both of which have continued to haunt him this season. However, it is his penalties that really make him stand out as a player who could end up hurting the team.
Granted, Andrew Whitworth's issues aren't as problematic as Bodine's (three holding penalties for 30 yards). But it shows a dangerous lack of discipline.
Perhaps, Whitworth's worst penalty this season came in Week 5 against the Seahawks. The Bengals were up with an early 7-0 lead and Dalton went deep left to A.J. Green for the long touchdown. But, Whitworth was called for holding on the play and the Bengals lost their all-important momentum that led to them blowing the lead and being unable to recover until late game heroics from Dalton kicked in and his arsenal saved the day. Had the team lost the game, this call would have been seen as a decisive moment in the game.
The third most at-fault culprit of this line's penalty problems probably comes as no surprise. Throughout his career, Andre Smith has been penalized 29 times for 195 yards, and this season he has contributed three penalties for 20 yards lost. A false start, a hold, and an illegal shift show either a lack of discipline or a lack of focus. This shouldn't be too surprising to Bengals fans, who have had a fairly rocky relationship with the former sixth overall pick over the years.
Kevin Zeitler (2), Jake Fisher (1) and Clint Boling (1) round out the position groups penalties.