It looks like the Bengals are in for another season of Russell Bodine being a liability at center.
It’s no secret that Bodine is the weakest link among all starters on the Bengals roster, but he benefits from the strong support of his coaches. We’re not really sure what the coaches are seeing, because the rest of the world is seeing arguably the NFL’s worst starting center.
The graders at Pro Football Focus have had Bodine ranked near the bottom of their rankings in each of his first two seasons. The only guys who’ve ranked worse have typically been backups thrust into a starting role because of injury to the starter, such as Cody Wallace in Pittsburgh or Trevor Robinson in San Diego.
Well, PFF is already hammering (rightfully so) Bodine for his two awful preseason performances, including Thursday’s painfully bad showing in Detroit.
On the other sideline, the biggest takeaway came along the offensive line. The Bengals had multiple running plays beautifully blocked for, only for a whiff by center Russell Bodine to blow it up. It may only be preseason, but it is abundantly clear after two awful grades in two games from Bodine that he hasn’t made the necessary improvements; it may be time for Cincinnati to find a new center.
That perfectly sums up the frustrations of watching Bodine be the Bengals’ starting center. Time after time, the Bengals have had a perfectly blocked play that would have sprung a huge gain, except Bodine badly missed his block and allowed the play to be blown up or not get nearly as much yardage as it should have.
We saw a few examples of this Thursday when Bodine missed blocks that otherwise could have allowed a big play or conversion to happen. We saw that in the first quarter when Bodine failed to block his man on a short run play that went for a loss because of his whiff.
The same thing happened on a 3rd-and-short in the first quarter in which Giovani Bernard easily converted the play and may have had a big gain if Bodine made his block.
Bodine is such a bad blocker that, even in the Bengals’ quick-passing offense, he’ll whiff so badly on his assignment that pressure gets to the quarterback on a play seemingly designed to make that impossible to happen.
This simply isn’t the quality of play a true title-contending team needs to have in the starting lineup by choice. Between Clint Boling, Kevin Zeitler and Christian Westerman all having some background playing at center, they need to get a serious look at center, or the Bengals just need to go sign someone who can at least push Bodine for the job.
He simply cannot continue to have this job handed to him the way it’s been through his first two years.