The first position the Cincinnati Bengals need to look to improve this offseason is the offensive line.
It’s not always easy to point at one factor and definitively declare that the reason for a loss. But when you look at the sack numbers from Super Bowl LVI, and how the Bengals’ offense ground to a halt in the second half, the offensive line is low-hanging fruit.
Zac Taylor may have signed a contract extension on Wednesday, but he couldn’t escape questions about the offensive line during his press conference.
Ben Baby of ESPN asked Taylor if he would look to improve the offensive line specifically.
“I think that we’ll just look to improve the team any way that we can and not specific to one necessary group,” Taylor answered. “The offensive line helped us get to the Super Bowl. They gave us opportunities to go win the Super Bowl.”
It’s hard to find the opportunities the offensive line gave Joe Burrow and the Bengals. After Burrow’s long touchdown to Tee Higgins, he completed nine passes while taking six sacks.
The final missed opportunity hurts the most. Burrow was pressured on the Bengals’ last play from scrimmage, and he flung the ball to Samaje Perine out of desperation. If he had a fraction of a second longer, he could have found Ja’Marr Chase who had just torched Jalen Ramsey.
“Everything always falls on them statistically,” continued Taylor, “but that’s not always the case. There are play calls that could be better to help put them in a better position. There is a lot that plays into all that.”
Baby pointed out that Burrow took 70 sacks in the regular season and postseason, which is third most in NFL history. If addressing the offensive line isn’t necessarily the fix, then what is?
“We just gotta be better as a unit,” Taylor said.
For what it’s worth, Taylor took the high road by putting himself out there and refusing to blame the offensive line. That’s why players love him.
That said, this doesn’t preclude a major rehaul on the line. This offseason, the Bengals cut Bobby Hart and Michael Jordan (two starters from 2020) and traded Billy Price. They also cut Xavier Su’a-Filo at the end of the season after he had been a Week 1 starter two years in a row.
The Bengals’ aren’t afraid to trim the fat off of the line. But until the time comes for players to get trimmed, Taylor has their backs.