Bobby Hart is a two-year starter at right tackle, but can Fred Johnson steal his spot?
Bengals fans have grown tired of watching Hart play at right tackle. At best, he is a below average tackle in the league; at worst, he is at the bottom.
So when Fred Johnson played 136 snaps at left tackle in 2019, it gave fans hope that someone could unseat Hart.
Dave Lapham and Dan Hoard discussed the position battle on the Bengals Booth Podcast at 25:45.
“I don’t think he is the worst right tackle in the National Football League,” said Hoard (which is really quite the ringing endorsement). “But I think we have seen enough of him at this point to know that he is not among the best and is never going to be among the best.”
Hoard cites Pro Football Focus, which gave Johnson a 78.4 grade in only 136 snaps. Though it’s a small sample size, it’s better than Hart’s 68.7 grade.
“Physically, I think they feel good about Fred,” Lapham said. “Bobby’s had problems with penalties. Now Fred has to show his poise, composure, those kinda things. And if he handles that a little bit better than Bobby has handled it historically, then that can give him a little bit of an edge.”
Lapham has been known for saying that the best ability is availability, which Hart has been able to provide. He has played over 2,000 consecutive snaps, and is one of the few on the offensive line that has not had to miss a game in the last two seasons.
“His football IQ and overall IQ has been praised by coach Turner, praised by a very, very intelligent guy in Trey Hopkins. So you know the dude is smart,” Lapham said. “Coaches and teammates like smart players. So Bobby Hart is not going to make assignment errors. Fred Johnson cannot make assignment errors. I think if he shows that mentally he can handle it, in terms of not making penalty mistakes and mental mistakes in terms of your assignment, I think those are things that you gotta be looking for.”
While Hart’s football IQ may be high, his overall IQ is not presented well on his social media accounts. On Instagram especially, Hart has been under fire for his COVID-19 related posts. In one of his posts, he even told Hopkins to “F*** off.”
Hart’s play of the field and his attitude on social media have made Bengals fans eager to find a new right tackle. Can Fred Johnson be the guy?