If there’s one position that is of utmost concern, it’s offensive line.
Last season, the Bengals ranked within the league’s bottom ten teams in yards per carry and sacks per game despite having a superstar running back and former Pro Bowl quarterback. The offensive line couldn’t hold up against the run or pass.
The team knew that entering the season, one reason they took the first offensive lineman off the board in the 2019 NFL Draft. The problem — he didn’t play a single game. Even Jonah Williams won’t save this unit in 2020 though, and the Bengals knew that.
They brought in veteran guard Xavier Su’a-Filo to help. Both are expected to be Week 1 starters. However, it might be Michael Jordan, the team’s starting left guard, that makes the difference.
In giving a recap of the offensive line’s performance and their potential personnel entering the season, Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson gave high praise to the former Buckeye entering his second season in the NFL.
“This much scrutinized unit has come back as they wished. Guys like Williams, Jordan and Price returned with re-chiseled bodies. Jordan may be the most improved guy on the team at any position with a terrific camp. Williams has been beaten some on the pass rush in 11-on-11, but overall he’s held up in his first camp. They love the leadership Su’a-Filo brought in free agency.
“Johnson keeps improving off two impressive games to end last season and may end up backing up four spots. He seems entrenched as the swing tackle. Adeniji, the sixth-rounder from Kansas, has really impressed them with his intelligence playing left tackle with the second group. It sounds like Redmond, who has yet to practice, can be back soon. So your five starters, along with Johnson, Price, Adeniji and Redmond backing it up make it a tough room to crack,” Hobson wrote.
The nine-man unit is likely already locked up, but with still a week left to make an impact, a few other rookies may have some hope left.
For now, this unit, on paper, is much improved and one that should at least be able to limit the pressure on rookie quarterback Joe Burrow.
Facing the likes of Myles Garrett and TJ Watt, the Bengals o-line will need to be prepared for some of the best in the league early and often in 2020.