The Cincinnati Bengals have been criticized for years for being unable to put together a good offensive line in front of Joe Burrow.
This year, they had the best one so far in his career, with Orlando Brown Jr. taking over at left tackle and Jonah Williams sliding over to the right side. Cordell Volson has been a major weak link, however, and an OL is often only as strong as its weakest link.
According to Pro Football Focus, Volson’s 28.7 pass-blocking grade is the fifth-worst of 83 NFL guards who’ve played at least 20% of their team’s offensive snaps this year.
This all came crashing down during Thursday night football when a hit during the game led to the injury that will have Burrow sidelined for the rest of the season.
The injury might still have happened even with the best offensive line in the league, but it is clear the Bengals need to keep on working on protecting Burrow.
According to Gridiron Grading and Math Bomb, there is a clear issue with the OL that needs to be addressed.
Average NFL OL athleticism (by RAS) plotted against PFF production this year.— Gridiron Grading (@GridironGrading) November 17, 2023
Data from @MathBomb continues to be one of the best resources out there.
I knew the Bengals line was unathletic but the reality is they’re not even close to the rest of the league.
This is damning. pic.twitter.com/OfgyNE6iye
The Bengals are comfortably the least athletic OL in the league based on RAS. While some may question RAS as a metric, the Bengals OL definitely has an issue with getting to the second level on tape.
Volson is the OL who scored the highest in RAs with a six, with Karras and Jonah being in the five range, Cappa below 3, and Brown at .7 as a true outlier.
Obviously, Orlando Brown Jr. drags down the Bengals score, but overall, they lack athletes on the offensive line. When that is the case across all five spots, it can be a real problem, and we’ve seen that repeatedly with this group.
The Bengals will need to add some more talent to the offensive line to help protect Burrow next year and, ideally, somebody with some athleticism this time. They also may want to consider a new offensive line coach, as Frank Pollack just can’t seem to put together a good unit in Cincinnati, no matter who he has to work with.