Let's get to it.
The Cincinnati Bengals have the 13th-ranked offensive line in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus' statistical analysis -- an 11-point decrease from the second-ranked o-line from last season.
Stud: Yawn. Andrew Whitworth is once again the top dog. His pass blocking has been stellar (one hit, two hurries) but there is something about him not pulling from the guard spot we miss.
Dud: You know there are going to be lumps starting a rookie and that’s what the team has got with Russell Bodine. Struggling against those bigger bodies.
Summary: A bit of a drop-off but they remain in striking distance, and continue to be a line that tends to make life easy for their quarterback. Their running backs? Well the onus is on them to earn their yards a little more.
In four games this season, the Bengals have allowed one quarterback sack, three hits on the quarterback and 12 hurries.
The sack and two hits on the quarterback are attributed to Clint Boling, who has earned a +0.1 PFF score. The rest of the offensive line collectively has zero sacks, one quarterback hit (allowed by Whitworth) and 10 hurries. Russell Bodine, listed as the "dud", has generated a PFF pass blocking score of -2.3, despite allowing zero sacks, zero hits and three hurries. Most of his negative scores were as a run blocker.
How does that compare?
Football Outsiders ranked Cincinnati's offensive line as the top pass blocking unit in the NFL... and it's not even close. Cincinnati's Adjusted Sack Rate (1.7%) is a full percentage point higher than second place. The Bengals offensive line ranks eighth in run blocking, second in power blocking, and fourth in stuffed rankings.
On one hand, Pro Football Focus is telling us that Cincinnati's offensive line ranks a little better than mid-pack, whereas Football Outsiders (with a little more complicated metrics) is favorable.
Cincinnati's quality pass protection this year is helping in two regards... 1) quarterback Andy Dalton is feeling more comfortable in the pocket and 2) the quick passing schemes involves a quicker release and a neutralized pass rush.
Case in point. From when the football is snapped until the moment Dalton releases it, only 2.10 seconds pass. It's the quickest release in the NFL, with Peyton Manning taking 2.15 seconds from snap to throw. Now when Dalton is blitzed by the opposing defense, he's completing 22 of 34 passes for 431 yards and two touchdowns. His passer rating when blitzed (127.7) is 40 points higher than when he's not.
Yes, but quicker passes tend to be high percentage throws.
You sir, are correct. When Dalton releases the football within 2.5 seconds, he's completing 67.8 percent of his passes and generating a passer rating of 100.3. A quick release neutralizes the blitz and reduces overall pressure. When his release is 2.6 seconds or longer, his completion percent nose-dives to 52.4 percent (though his passer rating is relatively the same). Last year, when Dalton's release surpassed 2.6 seconds, which was 34.7 percent of his throws, his passer rating was 82.1 and his completion percentage was 48.8 percent.
The quick release is making Dalton more systematic as a game-manager who's no longer being asked to improvise. Maybe an audible here and there... fine, but how many routes is Dalton being asked to check-off before he settles on a target? It's not much. It's quick. Too quick? Nah.