The Cincinnati Bengals are a team that have had inconsistencies running the football for several years. The running backs, mainly Cedric Benson and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, have taken a lion’s share of the blame for the woes, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Benson and Green-Ellis, along with the various backups, have struggled with a lack of vision and breakaway speed, but the other factor has been a problem finding running lanes through the offensive line. That was one of the reasons changes were made up front, specifically at the guard position.
This season, and more importantly, over the past few games, the running game has really taken off, with BJGE breaking some of the longest runs of his career. He has also averaged over four yards per carry in each of the last four games. Much of this can be attributed to a much-improved offensive line, and especially the right side of the line, which along with Andrew Whitworth has gelled to become on of the league’s best lines.
Andre Smith was drafted with the sixth pick overall in the 2009 NFL Draft out of Alabama. He was, at one time, considered the top tackle prospect, but weight and attitude issues changed the perception of him and his draft stock seemed to sink. The Bengals, however, went ahead and selected him, opening themselves up to criticism if he failed. This was exacerbated by a lengthy holdout before his rookie season, leading to a lot of anger from fans toward the pick. Injuries also marred his first few seasons, and he seemed close to “bust” status. Smith began to put things together in the 2011 season, and continued that this season. He is now one of the top right tackles in the league and has become a tremendous asset on the line. At only 25 years of age, he should only get better.