“Well, it’s Groundhog Day... again.”
-Bill Murray as Phil Connors - Groundhog Day 1993
The Cincinnati Bengals offensive line ranked near the bottom of the league according to Pro Football Focus again this season. Despite the efforts to improve the group with the signing of Orlando Brown Jr. before this season and Alex Cappa and Ted Karras a year ago, Frank Pollack’s unit ended the season ranked 26th by PFF.
Let’s take a closer look at the rankings.
At the top of the class was center Ted Karras. Although fans voted in droves for the philanthropic milliner to be the Walter Payton Man of the Year, PFF did not give him a vote of confidence. Karras’ grade for the season came out to a 67.4. For some perspective, the Eagles offensive line was ranked first by PFF, and their fourth-best grade was Landon Dickerson, who graded out at a 70 for the season.
Karras’ grade is up from the 62.6 he posted in his first season with the Bengals, but that was nearly 10 points lower than his grade the previous year in New England. PFF did note Karras’ improvement as the season went on, in particular how all but one of the six sacks he gave up in 2023 came early in the season.
Not far behind Karras, but far behind expectations, was Orlando Brown Jr, who posted a grade of 66.1. This was the lowest year-long grade of Brown’s career. In each of the last three seasons, he has graded out in the mid-70s. Brown was a huge signing for the Bengals, and they need to be getting much better out of him than they did in 2023. PFF has him down for seven sacks allowed this season.
Next in this cluster was Alex Cappa who graded out at a 64.9 for the year. This is a few points lower than he was a year ago when we largely praised his performance. Similar to Karras and Brown, Cappa was coming off a year where he posted a solid 73.4 grade when he joined the club.
At the bottom of the list are the two most embattled members of the Bengals offensive line, Jonah Williams (58.5) and Cordell Volson (58.3).
Williams’ best season, according to PFF, was 2021, when he posted a grade of 77.1, but that grade plummeted to 61.2 a year ago, and the fall continued this season with his move to the right side. With Williams’ contract expiring the Bengals will once again be looking for a new starter at right tackle in 2024 and are in need of a big upgrade.
Ever so slightly below Williams in the yearly ranking was Volson. He showed improvement from his rookie season but did not take the massive jump he needed to and could also be a candidate for replacement in 2024.
As much success as this team has had, the offensive line still needs a lot of work. Injuries to Joe Burrow exacerbate the issue. Something needs to be done to fix it.