The Bengals’ offensive line issues may be getting worse before it gets better.
While the line dominated for the majority of their matchup with the Browns, they still allowed three sacks and several more hits and pressures on quarterback Andy Dalton.
Most of those were allowed by guys not named Andrew Whitworth, who is still playing at an All-Pro level for the Bengals on the left side of the line. However, Whitworth left Sunday’s game with a head injury that was later revealed to be a concussion.
Whit in concussion protocol, unavailable for interviews. #Bengals— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) October 23, 2016
Whitworth in concussion protocol, so questionable for next week.— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) October 23, 2016
After the game, head coach Marvin Lewis acted as though Whitworth was fine for next week. “Yes, he’ll be fine,” Lewis said of Whitworth. But, we’ve now learned that’s not so accurate as he’s in the league’s concussion protocol.
If Whitworth does in fact have a concussion, he’ll be hard pressed to play in London next Sunday vs Washington. The team is leaving for London on Thursday. If Whitworth can’t play, that would be a huge loss for an already struggling offensive line, as Whitworth is locking down the left side, similar to how he’s done for so many years now.
Coming into Week 7, Whitworth was Pro Football Focus’ third-ranked tackle. His 91.0 pass-blocking grade is the highest of any NFL lineman, guards and centers included.
If he’s out, the Bengals will rely on Jake Fisher or Eric Winston at left tackle. Fisher has struggled on the right side in brief stints there during the preseason and regular season. His 47.8 PFF grade would put him at 62nd among offensive tackles if he played enough snaps to qualify.
It’s also possible the Bengals move Winston to left tackle. He’s played just about every spot along the offensive line, and it may not be a stretch to think he’s better at either tackle spot right now than Fisher or Cedric Ogbuehi.
It’s gotten that bad, as Ogbuehi was benched for the second straight week against the Browns, though he did return to his right tackle duties. Whitworth being out would only make things a lot worse. It also won’t help that Washington entered Week 7 ranked seventh in sacks (16) and picked up three more on Sunday against Detroit.