In what’s turning into a season to forget, the Bengals could be making some changes sooner than later.
Though they threatened to do it on defense, it’s been mostly talk with little action to back it up to this point. One of the changes that some think should be made is along an offensive line that’s become one of the NFL’s worst this season.
Of course, embattled right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi would be one of the biggest candidates to be benched. Over at ESPN, they got help from Pro Football Focus to pick out an underused player for all 32 NFL teams who should be playing more.
For the Bengals, they went with backup right tackle Eric Winston, who has been rotating with Ogbuehi for the past month now.
Pro Football Focus: Right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi has played poorly this season, surrendering five sacks and 29 total pressures. Sixth lineman Jake Fisher hasn't looked much better in limited snaps, but Winston has. He has surrendered just one hurry and hasn't been penalized in his 62 snaps.
NFL Nation: The Bengals see Ogbuehi, a 2015 first-round pick, as their right tackle of the future, and Winston's use is simply a teaching tool for Ogbuehi. The Bengals don't want to bench Ogbuehi and halt his progress, so they have utilized an unusual rotation in which Ogbuehi plays for two series, then comes out for one so he can watch Winston and learn from him. The Bengals don't see it as a matter of choosing between the two players. They intend on playing Ogbuehi going forward, and benching him for Winston would be counterproductive in their minds. -- Katherine Terrell
Adding to this, Pro Football Focus has Ogbuehi graded as the 69th-best offensive tackle heading into Week 11 with a 41.4 rating. Winston has not played enough snaps to be ranked, but his 67.9 grade would have him ranked in the 40s and significantly higher than Ogbuehi.
But that’s as a backup getting about 16 snaps per game. Teams aren’t spending hours watching game film and preparing on Winston. They’re focusing on Ogbuehi and exposing him.
If Winston were to suddenly be the starter, the same would probably end up being true for him. He’d still be a small upgrade, but not enough that it’s worth it in the long-term development of Ogbuehi. He needs to go through these struggles now to help him be better later, hopefully as this season wears on, but more likely next season.
It’s also worth pointing out that Ogbuehi missed most of the offseason workouts with various injuries. Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson reports Ogbuehi had a muscle issue that cost him a lot of OTAs, and we all know about his toe injury that cost him most of training camp and the preseason, two things he also didn’t participate in as a rookie in 2015 while recovering from a torn ACL.
Ogbuehi is effectively a rookie lineman right now playing for an offensive line coach who’s blocking scheme takes several years to get down. Seeing him struggle should be expected. Blame the Bengals for not having a better option to keep him from being thrown into the fire with essentially a squirt gun of experience. And, maybe blame the coaches for putting him into a situation in which the coaching wasn’t good enough for him to succeed with.