The most important thing the Bengals have to change to slow down the mutiny from their fan base it is the team’s offensive line. The Bengals could commit an entire offseason towards their offensive line, and many fans still wouldn’t be satisfied. The first step toward fixing up the offensive line and achieving a much-improved result was the Bengals replacing long-time offensive line Paul Alexander with former Cowboys offensive line Frank Pollack.
A lot of attention has been paid early on this offseason to what Pollack has to say about the current state of his new offensive line, but he is mostly just trying to keep an open mind. After all, he hasn’t worked with any of these guys yet.
A positive development is his interest in the Bengals’ young interior linemen: Christian Westerman and Alex Redmond. Both of these young players filled in at left guard for the final two games of the 2017 season after Cedric Ogbuehi got injured and the team moved Clint Boling out to left tackle to fill in.
“They’re fun to watch,” Pollack told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, talking about Westerman and Redmond. “They play with that young, energetic buzz on the field. They’ve got a lot of stuff to clean up technically, but they’ve got some nasty in them. I enjoyed watching that.”
Again, it seems like he is toeing the line of not trying to make any claims he can’t cash in on because he hasn’t worked directly with these guys. Still, any excitement in young players who have been overlooked is great. It’s also nice to hear Pollack acknowledging they have work to do, making it clear he’s studying up on his players.
It did take almost all of the Bengals’ offensive linemen to go down before the team finally ended up playing these two during the final two games. The two games that happened to save Marvin Lewis’ job might I add. And, it’s worth noting, the Bengals’ line was considerably improved down the stretch, playing great in those final outings of the season. Yes, both Ogbuehi and Andre Smith weren’t on the field for those contests.
It will be difficult for either of the young guys to get on the field. That’s mostly because neither of them are taking Boling’s spot at left guard. The right guard position should be open for competition, and we should really see Westerman compete at the center position. That’s especially true if the Bengals re-sign Russell Bodine and intend to have him competing to maintain his starting job. There’s also the real possibility of re-signing Bodine and handing him a job he doesn’t deserve to maintain without competition.
It is worth noting that Pollack doubled down on his comments about Bodine being a player he likes because of his “nasty streak”. Unless he is talking about how sick you get watching him get routinely pancaked then I’m not sure we agree on him having a nasty streak.
Pollack should be very open to starting the best possible combination of offensive linemen next season. The group has been a mess for the last two seasons, and last year showed that the whole unit needs to be reworked. He has a tall task ahead of him, but if he really gets players believing that their starting positions up for grabs then the competition during the offseason can help sort out many of the group’s problems. Signing a free agent or two and drafting a number of lineman will help, too.