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What happened to the Bengals’ offensive line in Cleveland?

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Halloween didn’t go as planned, as the Cincinnati Bengals offensive line rollercoaster faced off against an elite pass rush generated by the Cleveland Browns defense.

Myles Garrett set the tone with an opening drive tipped ball that led to an interception and ended up with 1.5 sacks, the deflection, and 4 QB hits.

What went wrong with this group that had been on the up and was coming off two of its best games (by my independent grades, at least) of the season?

Run Game

The Bengals had nine non-Burrow rushes for 34 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Browns. Five of the 10 total attempts came in the first QUARTER. It gets hard for teams to run the ball when they’re down late in games or even if they’re trailing at the end of the first half. However, the Bengals were still very much competing in the game when they suddenly abandoned the run game. Now, averaging 3.7 yards of carry (outside of the QB sneak) doesn’t get many coaches excited to run the ball, but choosing to not run the ball affects more areas than the offense.


The defense spent thirteen and a half minutes more on the field than the Bengals’ offense on Monday night. As an offense, the main objective is to score points. However, a secondary factor of offense is keeping your defense off the field. Six of the ten Bengals possessions took less than two minutes off the clock (the final scoring drive of the game took 2:06). When an offense is allowing their defense less than two minutes of rest in between drives, that is where fatigue causes defensive breakdowns and injuries.

Pass Protection

Now, this is supposed to be about the offensive line, so let’s talk about pass protection. Allowing 5 sacks, 7 QB hits, a lost fumble (via strip sack) and 3 pass deflections from the line of scrimmage is, in short, bad. Jonah Williams most likely had his worst game of the season and was bullied by Garrett and even gave up a sack to 7th-round rookie Isaiah Thomas. However, Williams was not the only player at fault. Collins allowed his share of pressures and hits as well as a couple plays where he ended up running into a defenseless Joe Burrow and rookie Cordell Volson has to improve against power moves. While Jonah Williams was definitely the lowlight of the group Monday night, he was not solely at fault.


Overall, the front five definitely took a step back this week from their impressive rise over the last few games. The reaction shouldn’t be that the new and improved line is failing. However, the lack of success against better than average edge rushers is a glaring weakness for the Bengals’ offense and that must be addressed, soon. Karras passed the initial eye test and is still looking like the rock of this group. Cappa and Volson both showed signs of weakness. Volson still has a ways to go, but is still impressing as a 4th-round rookie out of an FCS school. Cappa needs to find a way to be more consistent. His highs are incredible, but his lows are near embarrassing. Williams and Collins have been the sore spots since Week 1 and that seems to still be the case through eight games. They’ve both flashed, but as a whole, there is a lot that needs correcting. Injuries are a killer in the NFL and tons of players can and do play through them. However, if a player isn’t performing to the standard (injured or not), a change needs to take place.