Bengals’ Offensive Line is Key to Future
Nov 30, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) calls a play at the line of scrimmage against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14-13. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
This week former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh joined the coaching staff under the Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship. Houshmandzadeh was a part of the Palmer era under Marvin Lewis in the early 2000s.
Houshmanzadeh offered several thoughts on the team yesterday. Amongst these thoughts was a unique one the former receiver had to say about the offensive line.
"“It looks different. It looks better,” Houshmandzadeh said. “Look at the draft this year. They get a top five pick (Texas A&M left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi) at the end of the first round because he’s hurt. They got another possible first-round pick in the second round (Oregon left tackle Jake Fisher). Now you’ve got five offensive linemen (with the starting interior of center Russell Bodine and guards Clint Boling and Kevin Zeitler) under the age of (26) and they’ll probably start for the next 10 years. They’ll be good for a long time because they have the guys up front.”"
Plenty of fans considered the selection of two offensive linemen this year to be an unnecessary decision. These fans believe the team should’ve addressed more pressing positions of need in an effort to “win now.” With so many players set to hit free agency in 2016, it’s reasonable to see this coming season as the final one with the team’s current core of players. With such a talented roster, why wouldn’t the team strike now in an effort to see how far this group of players can go in the playoffs?
Houshmandzadeh’s assessment of the situation is a reasonable way to explain the decision. Line play is often the difference between good and bad teams. It’s really the foundation upon which teams are built. With the potential of an entire starting unit on the roster now for the future (possibly the next 10 years according to Houshmandzadeh), it will allow the team to focus on defense and offensive weaponry going forward, and for numerous years.
Having a strong foundation of players along the offensive line is vital towards finding success. With five potential starters, none of whom have hit their prime yet, the team has positioned itself to find consistent success going forward. Obviously nothing is given for rookies, but Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi do look awfully promising. Kevin Zeitler is burgeoning and Clint Boling just signed a five-year deal he deserved, and Russell Bodine is built for Hue Jackson’s offense. The future is looking bright for the Bengals. Maybe selecting two linemen this year wasn’t such a bad idea after all.