The 2020 Bengals didn’t have a more notorious player than offensive guard Michael Jordan. The second-year offensive lineman not only struggled last season, but he was the blocker responsible for allowing the hit that took Joe Burrow out for the season.
That play that stuck with Jordan, for obvious reasons. He used that moment, and a promise to his quarterback, as the basis for an offseason of growth.
“First thing I did was I apologized to Joe,” Jordan told The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. “I told him he was not going to hear any more words from me. Just actions. I can tell him I’m going to do better. He doesn’t want to hear that. He wants to see it. I’ll prove what I’m saying and my convictions this upcoming season. Not a whole lot of talking; I’m just going to show it.”
To Jordan’s credit, he put his money where his mouth is and completely rebuilt his body. According to Dehner, Jordan dropped below 300 pounds this offseason with the goal to add it back in the form of more muscle. He’s not quite done yet, but he’s made significant progress in getting back to the playing weight he wants to be at.
Jordan also spent time working with former-Bengal great Willie Anderson on retuning some of the more detailed aspects of being an offensive lineman. Not to mention Bengals new offensive line coach, Frank Pollack, will be able to develop the young offensive lineman better than his infamous predecessor Jim Turner.
Jordan will have some serious competition to getting a starting spot. The team brought back Quinton Spain and still have Xavier Su’a-Filo, who was starting at right guard before suffering an injury in Week 1. Cincinnati also spent a second-round pick on Jackson Carman out of Clemson, who is going to be given every chance to start at right guard.
One of the biggest improvements may come mentally for Jordan. There is no question last season and this offseason have given the young player some tough skin. It has been impossible to avoid criticism after what happened last year. Still, the 23-year old is showing some maturity by just trying to control what he can to prove the Bengals were right to trade up and draft him.
“Biggest lesson I have learned from last season was once a play happens, it is one play,” Jordan said. “Whether you do great or whether you do bad, you have to be ready to move on because that’s not what’s important. What’s important is the next one.”
It may be now or never for Jordan if he plans on remaining a Bengal. It is great to see and hear that he is putting in the work, but as he says himself, we still have to see the results. Even if Jordan becomes just a reliable depth player, that is still extremely valuable to a team that has saw its depth get tested to the extreme last season.
Here is to hoping Jordan can prove the doubters wrong, and make the Bengals a better team while doing it.