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Bye Week-ly Lineman: Quantifying every Bengals offensive lineman’s performance so far

This week, we look at where each lineman is relative to each other going into the Bengals’ matchup with the Steelers.

Buffalo Bills v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Through six weeks, the Cincinnati Bengals are 16th in the league in sacks given up with 15, and 15th in sack yards lost with 85.

They rank 27th in tackles for loss with 24 and 28th in average yards lost per tackle for loss. These numbers can be used to conclude that overall, the Bengals offensive line has been below average, but that in itself speaks to the group as a whole.

These stats don’t tell us who, individually, has been holding their own or weighing everyone else down. From the start of the season, I wanted to provide clarity to this problem. All eight of the Bengals offensive lineman on their active roster have taken snaps this season, and all have performed at their own level.

Every week so far I’ve focused in on every snap from each player and marked how many low quality snaps they’ve had so far. A low quality snap in my eyes, doesn’t always get defined by what the result of the play is. It’s defined by either a lack of technique, a mishap in footwork, late or soft hands, or general lack of awareness.

Most of the time, a low quality snap was the cause of a negative end result, but sometimes the play survived regardless. That doesn’t, nor should it, absolve the player from a bad snap, and this process keeps track of that.

Each player ended up with a certain percentage that’s relative of their total snaps on offense (not including QB kneels). Here are the results:

Low Quality Snap Percentages (thru Bye Week)

Player Cedric Ogbuehi Clint Boling Russell Bodine T.J. Johnson Jake Fisher Andre Smith Trey Hopkins Alex Redmond
Player Cedric Ogbuehi Clint Boling Russell Bodine T.J. Johnson Jake Fisher Andre Smith Trey Hopkins Alex Redmond
Position(s) LT, RT LG C RG RT, LT RT, LT RG RG
Low Quality Snaps 36 15 48 26 32 14 12 4
Total Snaps 251 311 311 227 257 114 68 16
Offense Snap % 80.71% 100.00% 100.00% 72.99% 82.64% 36.66% 21.86% 5.14%
Low Quality Snaps % 14.34% 4.82% 15.43% 11.45% 12.45% 12.28% 17.65% 25.00%

Let’s go from the side of the line to the right side. Starting with the starters:

Cedric Ogbuehi

Best game: Week 1 vs. Baltimore - Low Quality Snaps Percentage: 11.48% (7/61)

Worst game: Week 3 @ Green Bay - Low Quality Snaps Percentage: 16.67% (8/48)

Ogbuehi’s best game is a terrific example of a crucial component to this methodology. All bad snaps are weighed the same, which is the underlying point. Bad snaps aren’t just bad snaps because the result of the play was negative, they’re bad snaps because they’re snaps reps. This was the case in Week 1 against Baltimore. Andy Dalton was sacked five times in the 20-0 defeat, and on three of them, Ogbuehi had bad reps that contributed to the sacks.

The other side of the coin was that Ogbuehi played 61 snaps that game, his second highest of the season so far, and only had four more bad reps the rest of the game. Outside of that week one performance, he has maintained relatively consistent in the 12-16% range, which isn’t good by any means, but there hasn’t been a real disaster game, unless you consider the Baltimore game his dud because of the sacks. He’s been a part of a three man rotation at tackle with Jake Fisher and Andre Smith because of his bad reps, which has potentially prohibited any unsalvageable performances.

Clint Boling

Best game: Week 5 vs. Buffalo - Low Quality Snaps Percentage: 0.00% (0/62)

Worst game: Week 1 vs. Baltimore - Low Quality Snaps Percentage: 8.20% (5/61)

The undisputed MVP of the Bengals offensive line, Boling is the glue that holds the whole group together, and that was expected of him coming into the season. He had as perfect of a game against Buffalo as you can possibly have, and has consistently kept his bad snaps below a handful since Week 1. He’s playing really well when you consider the two players beside him have at least twice as many bad reps a game.

No matter the chaos that’s ensued surrounding him, Boling is still performing above average in both pass protection and run blocking. You just may not notice it on plays like this.

Russell Bodine

Best game: Week 4 @ Cleveland - Low Quality Snaps Percentage: 10.94% (7/64)

Worst game: Week 3 @ Green Bay - Low Quality Snaps Percentage: 22.95% (14/61)

Like it’s been for the previous three seasons, the Bengals can count on Bodine to stay on the field at all times, as both he and Boling have yet to miss a snap. Bodine’s low quality snap percentage however does not reflect Boling in this way, as he is the most inconsistent blocker to play the majority of the snaps so far. His issues still center around second level ability, getting low and out of his stance on zone runs, and anchoring in pass protection.

I’ve harped on the Bengals allowing too many tackles for loss this season, and Bodine has been the main culprit of allowing penetration on running plays. The reverse of this is, when the Bengals run the ball well, the vast majority of the time it’s because Bodine handles his assignment. Funny how that works.

If they could run against this look perpetually, where there’s only a shaded tackle on Bodine, and the right tackle could take care of the backside linebacker, I’m sure they would. Because this play call really shields the center from making any mistakes. Which is what they should always try to do with Bodine.

T.J. Johnson

Best game: Week 3 @ Green Bay - Low Quality Snaps Percentage: 5.00% (3/60)

Worst game: Week 5 vs. Buffalo - Low Quality Snaps Percentage: 30.43% (7/23)

No one in this unit has the greatest variance between their best and worst performance this season than Johnson. Against Green Bay, he played fairly well, not losing often but not really dominating. It was a similar performance against Cleveland before he got hurt that game. He played so horrendous against Buffalo that he got himself benched.

Johnson’s issues aligned a lot with Bodine’s in terms of lacking proper leverage and hand placement that gets him into trouble, and it’s ultimately what limits him as a starter. It’s why the team decided to go with the younger Trey Hopkins to start the season. Johnson has done as well as expected being thrown into the starter’s role, but he shouldn’t see the field very much if Hopkins can see the field.

Jake Fisher

Best game: Week 5 vs. Buffalo - Low Quality Snaps Percentage: 5.88% (2/34)

Worst game: Week 2 vs. Houston - Low Quality Snaps Percentage: 14.06% (9/64)

Like Ogbuehi, most of Fisher’s games have been consistent as far as low quality snap percentage goes, as outside of his Week 5 performance, he’s stayed between the 12-14% range. And he’s been pulled from the lineup for Smith like Ogbuehi after bad snaps, like this one:

What’s truly stood out from Fisher has been how bad his bad snaps have been, they’re bottom-tier bad. We saw this from time to time last year, and I attributed it to rust first and foremost. The more we continue to see it, the more rust has less and less to do with it. On the positive side, Fisher is undoubtedly the best second-level blocker they have who isn’t Boling, and still has more positive pass protection snaps than Ogbuehi does so far. Have to wonder if this rotation is doing either of them any good being on the field less.

Andre Smith

Best game: Week 4 @ Cleveland - Low Quality Snaps Percentage: 8.89% (4/45)

Worst game: Week 3 @ Green Bay - Low Quality Snaps Percentage: 15.38% (4/26)

The third tackle of this on-going three-week rotation, Smith has done sparingly in the areas that suit him, and not so much otherwise. The 30-year-old is the oldest in the group, and age and very possibly past injuries have taken most of his speed and quickness away.

This was officially marked as a low quality snap, but I can hardly blame Smith for this. It’s almost as if they’re not adjusting their play calling when they have different tackles on the field. I want to see this rotation at the very least minimized as much as possible. Find five guys and stick with them.

Trey Hopkins

Best game: Week 1 vs. Baltimore - Low Quality Snaps Percentage: 17.24% (5/29)

Worst game: Week 5 vs. Green Bay - Low Quality Snaps Percentage: 17.95% (7/39)

It’s been a rough start to Hopkins’s first season as a starter. He had a pretty bad game against Baltimore before leaving the game with a knee injury that sidelined him up until Week 5 against the Bills where he returned to the field to replace a struggling T.J. Johnson. They were two tough matchups for sure, and Hopkins may’ve not been fully ready to return against Buffalo.

The sample size is still pretty small for Hopkins, so it’s too early to write him off just yet.

Alex Redmond

Lone game: Week 4 @ Cleveland - Low Quality Snaps Percentage: 25.00% (4/16)

I wrote about Redmond’s debut against Cleveland here. He flashed but at times looked overwhelmed against Cleveland’s interior. No, I don’t know if he can snap.

I will continue to track each snap from this offensive line to get a clearer picture who are the true weaknesses and who is getting better in this unit, and should have something by the end of the year.

As we move into Steelers game, it should be said that in the two losses Pittsburgh has suffered, they’ve given up an egregious 6.20 yards per carry, and 7.97 yards per positive run. It’s possible to gash this defense, but the men up front have to be up for the challenge. We shall see if this team is.