We all remember just how bad the offensive line was a season ago.
Players like Cedric Ogbuehi and Russell Bodine were obvious weak links throughout the season. Andy Dalton spent most of the season under pressure, and the running backs were dealing with defenders in the backfield far too often.
So, the Bengals made it a point to improve along the offensive line. The most obvious additions were left tackle Cordy Glenn and rookie center Billy Price. Glenn was brought over in a trade that involved the Bengals moving from the 12th to 21st pick in the first round with the Bills.
Price was taken with that 21st pick. These additions didn’t do much to sway Pro Football Focus though. While they still had the Bengals moving up on their list of offensive lines, they only ranked Cincinnati as the 26th overall offensive line heading into 2018.
The Bengals still ranking 26th after the addition of left tackle Cordy Glenn and first-round center Billy Price should tell you all you need to know about how bad they were a season ago. For as much of an upgrade as Glenn will be, there is no certainty Price will be the same. He had a third-round grade from PFF and his struggled in pass protection with 13 pressures allowed last season.
It is fair to question if Glenn and Price will be able to come in and perform right away for the Bengals. We haven’t really seen either in action yet. Still, they use Glenn’s grade from last season when he played hurt, which really hurt the overall ranking.
The real reason why the Bengals should be better than last year up front is simple.
Coaching, probably the most important thing in football. A change in coaching can change everything for a team, and the Bengals made a major upgrade in that department this offseason.
Well, at least at the offensive line spot.
Cincinnati and Paul Alexander parted ways this offseason. It was clear both sides needed a change after Alexander had been there even longer than Marvin Lewis. The Bengals then went out and signed Frank Pollack. Pollack was responsible for helping develop one of the most dominant offensive line units in the NFL. To be fair, he also had some pretty talented players to work with, though.
Still, Pollack has already started changing the culture surrounding the offensive line. He is helping install a new running game alongside offensive coordinator Bill Lazor as well. The offensive linemen also seem to be pretty excited about the changes they have seen so far, and it seems like everyone could be rejuvenated after a couple of rocky seasons.
There is plenty that advanced analytics can measure, and there is a time and place for them in the NFL. However, there is still room for error, and in this case there really isn’t a way for them to factor in Pollack’s impact on an offensive line with plenty of untapped potential.