While the game of football will always be focused around the glamorous skill positions like receiver, runningback, and of course quarterback, the unsung heroes of any good football team are the offensive lineman. They open the holes for the backs to find running lanes, and they protect their QB so he can find his receiver streaking down the sideline for a highlight-reel touchdown.
The Bengals have been a good team over the past two seasons, and much have that has been due to the strength of their o-line, who Pro football Focus ranked as 8th-best o-line in the NFL:
8. Cincinnati Bengals (13)
PB – 2nd, RB – 22nd, PEN – 10th
Stud: What a year from Andre Smith (+26.9). Our top-graded right tackle was the only player on this unit to consistently generate movement in the run game, while (Brandon Graham beating aside) holding his own in pass protection.
Dud: Whoever played center. That’s a little unfair to Trevor Robinson (-1.8) who looked the best of a bad bunch, with Jeff Faine (-13.0) completely done, and Kyle Cook (-5.0) far from his best.
Summary: If not for how bad things were at center then you’re realistically looking at a Top 5 line. The big problem is they’re far better on their heels than they are going forward, and outside of Smith don’t do a good enough job of creating space for their running backs.