The Cincinnati Bengals needed changes on the offensive line and brought in offensive line coach Frank Pollack. Giovani Bernard talks about the difference.
The Cincinnati Bengals have made a significant amount of changes this offseason, including along the offensive line. It started with the release of former offensive line coach Paul Alexander who had served at the position for over 20 years for the Bengals. Cincinnati decided to bring in former Dallas Cowboys offensive line coach Frank Pollack as his replacement.
If there is one thing that you think of when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys, it arguably has something to do with the Cowboys offensive line talent. Pollack has developed an elite level unit in Dallas over the last four years, and the Bengals organization noticed it. Following the signing of Pollack to the coaching staff, Cincinnati brought in help for the offensive line by trading for Buffalo Bills left tackle Cordy Glenn and drafting Ohio State center Billy Price in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
The offensive line struggled immensely in 2017 following the departure of offensive linemen Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler. Cincinnati was hoping that former 2015 draft picks Cedric Ogbuehi, and Jake Fisher would be able to fill the holes of the former Pro Bowl talent players but it backfired massively. The offensive line as a unit ranked 28th on a list by Pro Football Focus giving up 158 pressures on veteran quarterback Andy Dalton.
It was decided that it was time to move on from Alexander and bring in Pollack to help develop the young talent across the offensive line and get the offense back to having success. Most of the problems in 2017 for the offense can be directly connected to the poor play of the offensive line. Dalton was under pressure it seemed every play and defenders were meeting running backs as soon as they were handed the ball in the backfield.
One player that has already taken notice of the difference between Alexander and Pollack is running back Giovani Bernard. The Bengals running back discussed with Geoff Hobson how they were completely different people.
"“Seeing Frank in the meeting room, you knew once he stepped up there it was a change,” Bernard said. Completely opposite ends of the spectrum with Paul. “That’s not a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just a different feel. You can understand that they want to change the mentality of the offensive line as well as the running backs."
Pollack looks to add more aggressiveness to the offensive line in 2018 and having the line attack the defenders instead of reacting to how the defenders come off the snap. He has help in the rebuild of the line with Glenn, who is one of the top tackles in the league when healthy. Former center Russell Bodine leaving for the Buffalo Bills is arguably a blessing as it seemed the team wanted to re-sign him to a long-term deal this offseason. I don’t think I could have taken another season watching Bodine struggle at center as I’m sure most Bengals fans would agree.
Price will bring an immediate upgrade, in my opinion, to the center position which allows Pollack to focus more of his efforts on the right side of the offensive line. The right guard and tackle positions are the spots with question marks remaining. Cincinnati brought in former New York Giants right tackle Bobby Hart to be a part of that competition come training camp.
We saw good potential from guards Christian Westerman and Alex Redmond in the final two games of the season when the Bengals knocked the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens out of the playoffs to conclude their 2017 season. I expect Westerman to develop and start at the guard position and a battle between Fisher and Hart at the tackle position. It will be interesting to see if Pollack can finally get the full potential out of these young linemen as Alexander failed to over the last couple seasons.