The Bengals are now exiting the offseason after not making any wholesale changes to their offensive line. This has left many fans upset, but there is also reason for optimism at the position.
The headline for a positive outlook is finally getting 2019 first round offensive tackle Jonah Williams back healthy. He was the first offensive lineman taken in that draft, and he was expected to be the team’s starting left tackle from Day 1. There were even plans in place to have Cordy Glenn — a player the team had traded to fill that position the year before — to move inside to left guard. That is how much this team believed in Williams.
It turns out that Williams doesn’t have a lack of belief outside of the building either, as the greatest tackle in Bengals history (no offense to Andrew Whitworth) Anthony Munoz also thinks that Williams will fill a hole in Cincinnati’s offensive lineup.
“They’re young, but I’m excited about that,” Munoz told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “You’ll go through some growing pains, but I think eventually you’re going to be pretty good over there.”
Last year, Cincinnati seemed to try and patch an offensive line together early in the season. Williams was lost for the year early in training camp, and then the team lost Glenn to a concussion early in the season that lasted most of the year. That led to John Jerry — a career guard who had spent the previous year out of the league — along with Andre Smith trying to pick up the slack, which ended predictably bad.
Some fans may be concerned with trusting Williams with protecting the Bengals first-overall pick from this season, quarterback Joe Burrow. That is a concern that Munoz doesn’t think will apply to a player in Williams’ situation.
“He’s had a full year in the system. He knows the system. That’s an advantage. He’s not coming in cold,” Munoz said. “He’s in uncharted waters, no question. From what I hear he’s got an unbelievable work ethic. My advice is, ‘It’s your spot. Get after it like you were there last year. Continue with that work ethic. Believe in your technique.’”
Williams work ethic off the field is one of the reasons he was such a sought after prospect. Stories about him spending hours dissecting tendencies of opposing players and honing is craft are reminiscent of what you’d hear about the top players in the league. It is something that Bengals’ offensive line coach Jim Turner still lists as one of his best traits.
“I feel as good about Jonah Williams as I did the day we drafted him,” Turner said. “Just the character he brings. The work ethic. We’re 180 degrees from where we were last year there.”
...He’s not your typical rookie He knows the offense backwards and forwards. It’s like getting a guy after he has a mega minicamp.”
It really just feels like a matter of time before Williams hits the field and erases all doubt about whether he is the man who Cincinnati can rely on to protect Burrow’s blindside. Until then, it is very reassuring to know he has such talented people in his corner.