The Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive line isn’t playing well. That’s no secret nor surprise. Since we are a quarter of the way through the season, Pro Football Focus decided to see where each team ranks in pass blocking efficiency. It should surprise no one that the Bengals are ranked pretty low, but may be surprising that there are eight teams ranked worse than the Bengals.
24. CINCINNATI BENGALS
PFF Elite pass blocking efficiency: 73.6
Cincinnati’s offensive line has been an obvious issue all season, with the young tackles combining to surrender 25 pressures by themselves (more than Oakland’s entire offensive line). The entire line has allowed 48 total pressures on 143 pass blocking snaps.
In case you’re wondering, Pro Football Focus carefully noted what this stat measures:
This isn’t necessarily a ranking of the best offensive lines in the game (that will be breaking cover next week), or even which offensive lines are the best or worst in pass blocking, because in this metric we are not factoring in the speed and decisiveness of the pressure in the way the grading does, this is simply a measure of how much pressure each line has been responsible for through four weeks of the season.
Although it doesn’t take into account anything but how much pressure the line is responsible for, the Bengals’ offensive line doesn’t really get a pass based on the running game either. Last week against the Browns the Bengals’ running backs combined for a 2.6 yard per carry average.
The Bengals allowing 48 pressures on 143 passing blocking plays is insane. That is basically saying Andy Dalton gets pressured once every three drop backs. It is no wonder that even when he gets protection that Dalton ends up feeling unsafe in the pocket.
The Bengals are trying to do what they can to help protect their quarterback though. In the past two games, Andre Smith has rotated in for Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher. It seems to have helped slightly. New offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has also made an effort to run plays where Dalton can get the ball out more quickly. It is clear that since the team fired Ken Zampese after Week 2, Dalton has been under a lot less pressure.
There isn’t much else the Bengals can do until the offseason though. The Bengals allowed Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler to walk in free agency relying on their young players who struggled last season to develop. The Bengals also didn’t bring in any real outside competition for the tackle position. They signed Smith, but he was initially intended to be a guard, and that experiment quickly failed.
The Bengals really dug themselves quite a hole. It may take them a few seasons to actually build up a half way decent line now, but, as PFF notes, there are worse offensive lines in the league.