Offensive Line: The offensive line was another strength for the team in 2012. This is a drastic improvement over the previous season, as the Bengals seemed to make all the right changes up front. Andrew Whitworth once again manned the left tackle position all season, and did a solid job. Nagging injuries might have slowed him a little, but he was solid overall, and certainly didn’t impact the team negatively. On the other side, Andre Smith took another leap forward, becoming one of the best right tackles in the game. He had a few struggles with speed rushers, but for the most part, he used his huge frame effectively in both the run game and in pass protection. Re-signing him should be a point of emphasis this offseason. Both guard positions were new this season, with Clint Boling and first round draft selection Kevin Zeitler starting. Zeitler was especially good, getting lots of attention for his spectacular play. There were a few growing pains, but he looks to be a long-term starter up front. Boling stepped in as an injury replacement, but performed adequately as well. The center position saw rookie Trevor Robinson step in and play admirably to start the year, then Kyle Cook return and split time the rest of the way. Neither guy played badly, and will fight it out to determine the starter in 2013. Robinson might be the long-term answer. The bench has some nice players with guys who can step in and play well when needed. Grade: B+
The offense overall isn’t in bad shape by any means, though there are certainly areas that could be better. The play at QB is going to determine whether or not this team can score enough points on a weekly basis to compete week in and week out. If Jay Gruden returns, and Dalton can figure some things out, they are just a few tweaks away from a pretty good offense. I’ll discuss the other side of the ball next time.