The Cincinnati Bengals front five came out of the bye week looking as good as they have all season! Williams seemed to be (relatively) healthy again after dislocating his knee, and Collins passed the eye test in a great matchup against TJ Watt.
Though they only rushed for 2.6 yards per carry (62 yards total), the guys up front only allowed 2 sacks to a defensive front featuring the reigning DPOY in TJ Watt, a future HOF in Cam Heyward, and a not-too-shabby pass rusher in Alex Highsmith.
I’m excited to see what this newfound offensive line is going to do down the stretch to end the season.
Protecting the Franchise
There has been a lot of concern from fans surrounding the Bengals’ bookends Jonah Williams and La’el Collins. Collins came into the season after missing most of his offseason time in Cincinnati while trying to rehab a lingering back injury. This led to obvious stiffness and a lack of mobility early in the season. However, he played some of his best football this season going into the bye. He seemed to get right back into the swing of things as he kept Watt at bay for most of the game on Sunday afternoon. Besides a generous half-sack and a freak interception on his way to the ground, Watt was a non-factor in the pass game.
Great protection here featuring the ever elusive Collins pancake. pic.twitter.com/RgoHKjBss8— Parker Blake (@ParkerBlake60) November 21, 2022
Williams was looking to post his best game of the season (per my grades) before dislocating his knee in Week 5. He seemed to limp into the bye, and I was crossing my fingers that he’d be able to return to full form coming out of the break. That did seem to be the case as Highsmith, who was coming off a 2-sack performance, was only able to record a tackle and half a sack.
I have a lot of hope that these two are going to be bright spots for this team before the season is over.
One of my biggest criticisms of the Bengals’ offensive line this season has been the lack of athleticism shown at the second level. However, they have flashes of greatness from time to time. The front five are great at getting on blocks in the open field on the perimeter, and like we’ve seen this year from Collins and this week from Volson, having athletic big men can make it a lot easier to move the ball and score at will.
Makes up for it on the screen.— Parker Blake (@ParkerBlake60) November 21, 2022
Nice knock down from Karras and great show of athleticism out of the rookie. Cappa has been the weak point of just about every screen this season. pic.twitter.com/ljHxuhRS4n
The key to opening up the run game will come down to the offensive line being athletic enough to work double teams effectively and getting on linebackers at the second level. Doing those things will open up cleaner run lanes and give the Bengals running backs more yards before contact.
Once again, the Bengals show the firepower they can bring to the table. Missing Ja’Marr Chase this week and losing Joe Mixon in the first half allowed this team to showcase that they can still be successful as long as Burrow is on the field. Perine had an explosive day and the front five, for the most part, kept the tenacious defensive front of the Steelers at bay.
If the Bengals can learn how to play at this level consistently, they’ll prove a lot of people wrong throughout the back half of the season.