Far too often under Marvin Lewis, the Bengals have had quality players right under their nose that were underutilized before they found greener pastures elsewhere.
The latest example could be Christian Westerman, who was one of Cincinnati’s best offensive linemen in the preseason, yet has rarely seen the field in 2018. This, despite all of Cincinnati’s top linemen having PFF grades lower than 64 (the highest is Clint Boling at 63.8).
In fact, Bengals guards Aled Redmond (59.5) and Trey Hopkins (59.3) haven’t even gotten out of the 50s, yet have still played extensively throughout the season, as Westerman has sat idly on the bench.
That changed on Sunday, as Westerman replaced Hopkins at left guard with Boling now playing left tackle. You’ll be shocked to hear Westerman actually did really well.
#Bengals' Christian Westerman earned an 84.0 overall grade across his 42 offensive snaps on Sunday, the highest overall grade of any qualifying Bengal in Week 14.— PFF CIN Bengals (@PFF_Bengals) December 10, 2018
Westerman and C Billy Price were the only two CIN OL that allowed zero pressures against LAC. #WestermanHive
It really feels like Westerman is going to end up being the second coming of Evan Mathis, another good offensive guard who was actually kept on the bench in favor of guys like Nate Livings before going on to become an All-Pro with the Eagles in 2011.
Sure, Westerman may not be an All-Pro, but just being ‘good’ would be a big upgrade over what the Bengals have had from the majority of their offensive line this season.
For whatever reason, this coaching staff is completely against Westerman playing right guard, which puts him in a quandary since Boling is a good left guard, though injuries have forced him to play left tackle.
Once Cordy Glenn is healthy next season, Boling will go right back to starting at left guard, and Westerman will go right back to the bench in what is the final year of his rookie deal in 2019.
That is, unless a new staff comes in and actually figures out how to use Westerman, something that just seems far too challenging for the current staff to accomplish.