Cincinnati Bengals: The Offensive Line Contingency Plan

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Dec 11, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals guard Clint Boling (65) and tackle Andrew Whitworth (77) during the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Bengals won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals guard Clint Boling (65) and tackle Andrew Whitworth (77) during the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Bengals won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /
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It’s the 2015 NFL Draft. The Bengals could go in a bunch of different ways. But, with their first two picks, they select…offensive tackles. Was this a two-year plan?

Remember when the Bengals were so smart for looking a couple of years down the road? Well, here we are…down the road. As Paul Dehner Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer wrote in 2015, Andrew Whitworth and Smith knew the team was looking ahead at their positions.

This is what the Bengals were looking out for at the time. The coaches knew Andre Smith was likely to walk that offseason. And with Whit up there in age, the team had to draft his eventual successor.

At the time, I was not a fan of Cedric Ogbuehi in round one. It seemed like a reach for a guy who would redshirt his rookie year. Plus, Texas A&M isn’t exactly known as Offensive Line University.

Must Read: The Beginning Of The End?

The Bengals have drafted well on the offensive line, so you know the coaches like what they saw in Ced and Jake Fisher. At this point, we have to go into 2017 trusting that the coaches can turn these guys into the cornerstone tackles we all wanted to see.

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The early results aren’t that promising. Ogbeuhi missed most of his rookie year recovering from his torn ACL. And while Fisher showed some flashes as a 6th lineman/TE/FB hybrid his rookie year, he was unable to wrestle a starting spot away from the then incumbent Andre Smith.

In 2016, Ogbuehi was given the right tackle job and essentially said, “No thanks, I don’t like the right side, I’m only a left tackle.” That doesn’t sound like a guy who wants to stay in the league for long to me. Fisher was given his fair share of reps there too, and still, you could tell he needed some more seasoning.

Side Story

I can relate to Ced on a smaller level. I played O-line in high school, and I remember the summer practice where my coach told me I had to go from right tackle to left tackle my senior year. Initially, I was not a fan. Having played right side exclusively, I was totally comfortable with my right hand in the dirt and switching to the left side completely threw me off. But, I put in the practice hours on the field and in the film room to rewire my brain to play from the blind side. And all that said, I would have done whatever the coaches thought put us in the best position to win.

Looking Forward

Ogbuehi needs to put in the offseason work to prove to us that he can be a franchise left tackle. It would be a shame for him to be remembered for his 2016 season. Fisher needs to step up his game and control the right side. We cannot have Eric Winston and last season’s Ogbuehi as our starters and expect 2017 to go well.

Next: Big Whit Rides Into The Sunset

Losing Whitworth to the Rams hurts. Pairing that with losing Zeitler to in-house rivals doubles that pain. Dalton will probably wake up with nightmares due to his offensive line disintegrating right before our eyes. But again, the Bengals coaching staff knows that they drafted for this exact scenario two years ago. Here’s hoping that 2017 doesn’t become a season of defensive linemen all over Dalton.

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