A consistent narrative in Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow’s career has been the offensive line that plays in front of him. He was lost to a season-ending injury in his rookie year due to subpar offensive line play. He was the third-most sacked quarterback during the 2021 regular season, and, while the protection was better in 2022, multiple injuries on the line took their toll at the end of the year, leading to a loss in the AFC Championship game.
This offseason, the Bengals signed former Chief offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to be their new left tackle, which moved Jonah Williams to right tackle. Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan joined the “Locked on Bengals” podcast and stated that the offensive line heading into training camp this offseason is the best that Burrow has had so far in his young career.
“I think it’s safe to say it’s the best group from top to bottom that we’ve had in our time here,” Callahan said. “I just feel really good about the direction we’re headed, the players we’ve added, and the players that we have. It’s deep, it’s talented, it’s experienced. I’ve got a ton of confidence in those guys.”
Before the 2022 season, the Bengals added Ted Karras, Alex Cappa, and La’el Collins. Karras played the entire season, but Cappa and Collins were lost in the last few weeks, along with Williams. Burrow’s emergency appendectomy, combined with very little playing time together as a whole, caused the offensive line, especially pass protection, to struggle in the beginning of the season. However, after a few weeks, the line started to gel, and the offense began firing on all cylinders.
Now the Bengals have a new left tackle and are reconditioning Williams to play right tackle, forming what is likely the best offensive line the team has had since Andrew Whitworth wore a Bengals uniform. But what is also important is the depth of the unit.
The projected starters on the line in Week 1 are Brown at left tackle, Cordell Volson at left guard, Karras at center, Cappa at right guard, and Williams at right tackle. Collins will likely start the year on the Physically Unable to Perform list, but the team will still have Jackson Carman and Hakeem Adeniji on the roster, both of whom started multiple games at different spots. They’ll also have Max Scharping and Cody Ford as backups, among others, before final cuts are made.
Instead of relying on Carman and Adeniji, to start, the Bengals will have the two versatile linemen in backup positions, which is likely where they belong. When Collins is fully healthy, the line will not only be that much better, but it will be the deepest unit in recent memory.
This, combined with Burrow’s first full offseason of his young career, and the fact that they still have the core of the team together, could mean amazing things for the Bengals, who are looking for the franchise’s first Super Bowl win.