A Super Bowl trip might be hard for Bengals diehards to imagine after the organization’s dispiriting decision to retain coach Marvin Lewis for a 16th season. But this isn’t a talent-poor roster, especially if the offensive line can turn around. Cedric Ogbuehi was a problem at left tackle, and right tackle Jake Fisher’s career is in peril after heart issues. It’s not like the interior of Cincy’s line was great, either. The Bengals changed offensive line coaches and now need a reboot of players, not unlike what the Vikings accomplished last offseason.
It may feel like we are beating a dead horse always talking about how the Bengals need to protect Andy Dalton better, but when national guys recognize it too, it provides some validation.
It wasn’t like the Bengals didn’t know this was coming. They tried to upgrade their tackle position by spending their first and second-round picks in the 2015 draft on Ogbuehi and Fisher.
They thought they’d be drafting the anchors for their offensive line for years to come, but unfortunately, it’s looking like the Bengals will have to undergo a full overhaul at the position.
There is some hope the Bengals’ new offensive line coach Frank Pollack will be able to save Ogbuehi, but more than likely, the Bengals are looking to upgrade that position this offseason. Last year, they put all their eggs in the Ogbuehi and Fisher basket, and they ended up in an 0-3 hole.
Luckily for the Bengals, they will have plenty of options to address this hole on their offensive line. First, there is free agency, where there will be a number of tackles hitting the market.
The Bengals could add a player like Ja’Wuan James from the Dolphins or Cameron Fleming from the Patriots. Both will probably require a decent sized contract from the Bengals, so we will see what they will do there.
The Bengals also own the 12th-overall pick where they will likely have the choice of a player like Orlando Brown or Mike McGlinchey in the first round. The Bengals were also eyeing several offensive linemen at the Senior Bowl, most of which were inside, but it still shows they are taking this protection thing seriously.
Really, the the Bengals should abide by one word when deciding how to address the tackle position (and really the entire offensive line) this offseason: Competition.
The more players you bring in, the more likely you are to find players who can do the job. It isn’t a hard concept, but the Bengals failed to do that last year by only bringing in Andre Smith to backup Ogbuehi and Fisher.
Competition should be the only thing deciding who ends up starting along the offensive line next season. If the Bengals do a good job of upgrading the offensive line, they could see a turnaround like the Rams and Vikings saw this past season.