It is no secret the Bengals haven’t been good enough along the offensive line.
What some may forget is even before the team let Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler walk in free agency, Cincinnati still weren’t doing a good enough job up front. So, it really didn’t come as a huge surprise when Marvin Lewis was re-signed that the team didn’t bring Paul Alexander back for the 2018 season.
[Changing the culture is] exactly what Lewis sought as he attempted to re-build a unit that yielded the worst rushing season in franchise history. There had been whispers from among even their own coaches the previous two seasons that the line had been “soft,” the kiss of death for any line.
It really isn’t surprising to see a coach get fired after a few years of not being great. After all, the NFL is a what have you done for me lately league. Still, Alexander had been with the team for over 20 years. He had been a Bengal longer than Lewis, which is saying something since Lewis is entering his 16th season and is one of the longest tenured head coaches in the NFL.
Alexander also helped construct some of the most dominant offensive lines in the NFL for a few stretches that happened to occur when the Bengals were making the playoffs.
The change to Frank Pollack as the offensive line coach seems to already be paying off though. Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert got a heads up of what Pollack brings to the table from his brother-in-law Zach Martin who is an offensive linemen for the Cowboys. Eifert is still impressed by what he is seeing from the offensive line so far.
“(Martin is) a big fan,” Eifert said. “With his success in Dallas you can see he knows what he’s talking about. He brings an energy. He’s hard-nosed, he’s got a gritty attitude. That’s what he passes on to the players. He’s tough on the guys, but the guys respect him.”
You get the sense that the Bengals needed a voice change after hearing Alexander for so long, not to mention Alexander had failed to make anything productive from a first and second round pick in Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, who were both taken in the 2015 draft.
If we were talking about a quarterback failing like Ogbuehi has failed, then we’d probably be talking about Lewis being let go instead. One of the ways Pollack hopes to change things up front is just changing the overall approach.
“We’re not here playing chess, I know that,” Pollack said. “The last time I checked its football and you have to kick the guy’s ass who’s across from you. Nothing’s changed.”
Pollack has also been graced with a new left tackle in Cordy Glenn from the Bills and a first round center in Billy Price, but it will be his work on the right side of the offensive line that will tell us just how great this change actually was. He has a cluster of young players who have yet to meet their potential.
If we see a solid right side of the offensive line then that will be the crowning achievement of Pollack’s coaching job. Lewis doesn’t seem to doubt that Pollack will find a way to get that done after being blown away by his approach to coaching.
“He’s a very aggressive, physical person,” Lewis said. “He’s an excellent teacher, He’s very detailed. Every single step, every single movement has been broken down piece, piece, piece, piece, piece, piece.”