The Cincinnati Bengals making a run to the Super Bowl last season wasn’t something anyone saw coming. What made it even more shocking was the fact that they got there with one glaring problem, a terrible offensive line.
It was so bad last season that the Bengals allowed 55 sacks, the third-most in the NFL. Naturally, the Bengals pounded the pavement to get this problem corrected and did so with a massive overhaul in the trenches. They signed center Ted Karras and guard Alex Cappa to three and four-year deals respectively in March, and added right tackle La’el Collins two days later with a three-year commitment.
The 2022 season is in Week 9, and so far, this offensive line experiment for the Bengals has not worked, at all. Currently, they have allowed 30 sacks in their first eight games, the second-most in the NFL.
It would be one thing if all these additions had some setbacks. Collins, Cappa, and Karras have played and started in every this season, though, and each has logged 100% of the Bengals’ offensive snaps at least seven times in eight weeks.
Cincinnati has one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Joe Burrow, who surprisingly has thrown 15 touchdowns to just two interceptions since the Bengals’ season opener despite running for his life every week like Nancy Thompson from Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street. However, if Burrow continues taking this type of beating, the Bengals risk losing him for the year, as they did in his rookie campaign in 2020 when he tore his ACL and MCL while also damaging his PCL.
Luckily for the Bengals, this putrid offensive line play hasn’t cost them too much. Currently, they sit just a game behind the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North.
ESPN’s Joe Buck weighed in on the woes of the Bengals’ offensive front after their loss to the Cleveland Browns on Monday, and he stated their postseason aspirations will fade if things continue in this manner.
“Let’s just say this about the offensive line, Buck said to Scott Van Pelt on Sportscenter. “Joe Burrow is third fastest getting the ball out of his hand in the NFL. And he’s been sacked 29 times through eight games. So (the offensive line) has been revamped. They kept only one starter – the left tackle. And we keep hearing about how they’re gelling and they’re coming together. I don’t see it – at least the last couple of games. And they better get better fast or they’re not gonna keep pace in this division, let alone in the playoffs with this kind of offensive-line play.”
The bottom line is this, the Bengals invested $21 million guaranteed dollars on three new starters on their offensive line in the offseason. They haven’t reaped the benefits up until this point, and something needs to change, expeditiously.
Feature image via Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK