A win on opening day should always be a cause for celebration, especially against a team as well-built as the New York Jets. But, with the struggles of the Bengals’ offensive line, is there a storm brewing on the horizon?
Coming into the season, Bengals fans had a lot of concerns. Adam Jones is only getting older and the young corners haven’t stepped up yet. The talent in the receiving corps has fallen off with free agency and injuries. Vontaze Burfict is suspended. While these fears were mostly allayed Sunday, the offensive line had its roughest day in ages. Should Bengals fans be concerned?
Seven sacks is a lot for a quarterback to handle. If Andy Dalton continues to take hits like he saw on Sunday, an appearance from AJ McCarron at some point in the season would be inevitable. Quarterbacks just aren’t built to take that many hits. Even the massive Cam Newton has missed time from repeat-sack related injuries.
While this was rough, relax Bengals fans. Chances are, this won’t be a pattern for this offensive line. Let’s take a look at why.
How did this happen?
The Jets have one of, if not the strongest defensive lines in the NFL. Between Steve McLendon, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Leonard Williams, New York is a force to be reckoned with up front. Wilkerson and Williams are both strong candidates to lead the league in sacks at their respective positions.
The Jets coaching was also a huge factor in their ability to get to Dalton. Jets head coach Todd Bowles is no stranger to strategy along the defensive line. Previously employed as the defensive coordinator in Arizona, Bowles has always been known for the effectiveness of his blitzes. A defensive guru at head coach is a staple of the Jets organization, so games in New York are always hard-fought on the defensive side.
Of course, first-game-of-the-season-jitters played into this as well. This was a tough first game for a talented but newly constructed offensive line. Cincinnati likely won’t see blitz packages that complicated for the rest of the season, so it’s all downhill from here. The chemistry will come together and the talent the Bengals have amassed among their blockers will shine.
Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander hasn’t kept his job for 21 years for nothing. The kinks in the line will certainly be worked out by next week. While this week’s blocking for Cincinnati might have driven Bengals fans and Jeremy Hill fantasy owners crazy, they can take comfort in the fact that the Bengals play a Steelers defensive line next week that’s nowhere near the caliber of the Jets.