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Paul Alexander was ready to leave Bengals; still believes in his young tackles

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Paul Alexander didn’t hide much about his exit from the Bengals, but the one thing he made sure to emphasize was that he appreciated his time with the Bengals.

Chicago Bears v Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys recently swapped offensive line coaches.

The Bengals hired Frank Pollack, who the Cowboys let go, Shortly after that move, the Cowboys hired Paul Alexander, who had his contract expire in Cincinnati.

We have already touched on how great of a hire Pollack is for the Bengals, but he will be inheriting an offensive line that Alexander helped build and still believes in, according to Geoff Hobson of the Bengals official site.

“Everyone is going to hammer Cedric and Fisher, but a year from, now you’ll say, ‘Paul was right. These guys are good,’” Alexander told Hobson.

“Remember when Tennessee wanted to get rid of Taylor Lewan and (Eric) Fisher was terrible for Kansas City and (Jake) Matthews wasn’t playing well for Atlanta? These guys are good players now. It doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes it does. Willie (Anderson) was pretty good young. (Andrew Whitworth) was pretty good young. Most guys were not that way.”

I mean, it is true that it isn’t unusual for players to struggle early in their career, and writing these players completely off is a little silly.

Still, we haven’t seen much to suggest the Ogbuehi especially is capable of holding down Andy Dalton’s blind side for years to come. Jake Fisher is also dealing with a serious heart injury that should be concerning beyond whatever his potential could be.

These guys could benefit greatly from Pollack’s coaching, however, and they could develop into the solid linemen we expected when the Bengals drafted them.

It is also kind of funny that nowhere does Alexander stand up for Russell Bodine, who will be a free agent this offseason. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but maybe Alexander sees that Bodine was never going to become the great center he built him up to be.

Alexander also shared how much he enjoyed this last season with the Bengals. Somehow, out of 23 seasons, the last ended up being the best for him.

“I’ve never had a line improve like this one,” Alexander said. “Obviously they had the longest way to go, but probably my greatest memory is my last one. It was my most rewarding year.

“Halfway through the year we were 30th in pass protection (by profootballfocus.com) and in the second half we were fifth. Halfway through the year we were, what, 3.0 rush? And the number I saw floated for the last six games was 4.6.

“These guys won’t quit on you.”

The Bengals offensive line improvement was pretty great. Although coming from the bottom to anywhere seems like an astronomical climb. Still, overcoming losing the Bengals’ three offensive tackles that they came into the season with, and young guys coming in to play well, was a great ending to the season.

It really leaves the fans with almost a cliffhanger heading into next season. Will the offensive line continue to play as well? Who will be replaced? It really is a mystery we can’t wait to see unravel.

Despite what we may think about Alexander as a coach, he did apparently leave in the classiest way possible, as he and the team mutually parted ways after Marvin Lewis called him into his office.

“I told [Lewis] I wasn’t coming back,” Alexander told Hobson. “My kids are in college. I’d been in the same place for a long time. I loved my time here, but my wife and I wanted a little adventure at the end of our lives and we wanted to go explore. And this was the best year to do it. There were a lot of jobs open. I got a little nervous, but you’ve got to have a little confidence yourself and I ended up getting the best one out there.”

It is nice when a team and a coach who have been together so long can mutually end their work together. 23 years is a long enough time to really build a relationship with everyone involved with the team.

That includes coaches, countless players and especially Mike Brown. The owner even gave a glowing recommendation to Jerry Jones about his new offensive line coach. This has led to his defending the team whenever anyone has had a negative thing to say about it or Brown himself.

“No, no, no. We loved it there. A great place.” Alexander told Bengals.com. “[Brown] was great to me and my family … It’s unbelievable I could raise my (three) daughters in one place.”