Former Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis achieved a number of notable milestones during his tenure with the team, but he also had his faults. One of which was his seemingly-undying preference to play lesser-talented veterans over promising youngsters.
In a lot of ways, new coach Zac Taylor is both very similar to and the diametric opposite of Lewis. He enters the job on a similar career arc to that of Lewis in 2003, but the hope is that his youthful and innovative approach will reap more benefits than what Lewis was able to get out of the team over the past three seasons.
One of the proverbial forks in the road to differentiate himself from his predecessor occurred on Monday. It came in the form of Clint Boling’s retirement, and Taylor’s handling of the situation will start cementing his Bengals legacy.
What we mean by that, of course, is in whom he entrusts with the starting position. Taylor has his pick of a number of players with varying backgrounds to fill the left guard spot, but who will he go with as the season opens?
There are a number of factors to consider and the hope is that the best man will won the job. But, seeing as how that may not have been the case with Lewis and “open competitions”, call us a bit jaded when it comes to these kind of things.
The team made a number of moves to bring in guards this offseason, with one being free agent, John Jerry. He has experience playing under Jim Turner from their days in Miami, and he would probably be Lewis’ choice, given his “veteran steadiness”.
Christian Westerman finally got a shot to play and did so at a high level last year, but his sample size is small. Not only that, but there have long been rumors about his inability to fully grasp a playbook.
Trey Hopkins was one of their own internal free agency signings and he has experience at a lot of different spots on the line. However, some could argue that where he has played his best is at center.
There’s also the enigmatic rookie, Michael Jordan. Cincinnati seems to like him a lot, as they made one of those rare moves up to get him. While he boats athleticism, talent and versatility, he’s also a guy who needs development.
So, what route will Taylor go at left guard? Jerry might be the best player at the spot today in July, but guys like Westerman and Jordan could reach higher peaks with increased snaps.
Regardless, the decision Taylor makes could show us just how far away the team is from some of Lewis’ old ways.
Who should get the starting left guard job with Clint Boling going into retirement?
This poll is closed
Also on this week’s OBI episode:
- Was the Boling retirement expected? Does the acquisitions of numerous interior linemen point to that notion?
- Who are some more potential breakout players for the Bengals in 2019?
- Can Darius Phillips find a role with the team as a rotational return man? Will this especially be the case if Alex Erickson gets an increased role on offense?
- Is Drew Sample ready to emerge as a guy who can mask a number of deficiencies on offense?
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