One of the biggest storylines following the Cincinnati Bengals this offseason if the hire of offensive line coach Frank Pollack. Can he save the offense?
The Cincinnati Bengals weakest group last season was easily the offensive line. While most fans blame the losses of Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler a year ago, and there is a reason for that, the offensive line play was terrible in 2016 as well giving up more than 40 sacks. The firing of Paul Alexander, offensive line coach for the Bengals for over two decades, and bringing in Frank Pollack this offseason has been one of the biggest headlines surrounding the Bengals.
If the offense is going to improve in 2018, it has to start with the offensive line. Quarterback Andy Dalton cannot be getting hit as many times as he has the last two seasons and the running backs need holes to run through. Many believe that Pollack will be the savior to the offensive line as he transformed the Dallas Cowboys offensive line into a top line for four straight years.
Pollack will have help with the new additions to the team. Cincinnati traded for left tackle Cordy Glenn this offseason to ensure their most significant need. When healthy, Glenn is a top ten left tackle in the league. The Bengals also brought in free agent right tackle Bobby Hart to compete at right tackle with Jake Fisher. With former center Russell Bodine leaving for the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati was able to upgrade by drafting Ohio State center Billy Price in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
The only reliable piece on the entire Bengals offensive line last season was left guard Clint Boling. Now, Boling will be complemented with Glenn and Price bolstering one side of the line. There are still question marks at right guard and tackle, but I believe there is some untapped potential there. Everyone along the offensive line group has received a fresh slate from Pollack, including tackle Cedric Ogbuehi who will get his chances at tackle and guard during camp.
What Pollack brings most to the offensive line is a new culture of aggressiveness. Alexander brought some very talented offensive lines to the organization including during their playoff runs just a few years ago, but the last two seasons were awful. In a league where it is all about what have you done lately, it was time for a change. Head coach Marvin Lewis likes what he see’s from Pollack so far.
"“He’s a very aggressive, physical person,” Lewis said. “He’s an excellent teacher, He’s very detailed. Every single step, every single movement has been broken down piece, piece, piece, piece, piece, piece.”"
Tight end Tyler Eifert has already seen what Pollack is capable of before meeting him. Eifert’s brother-in-law Zach Martin plays on the Dallas Cowboys offensive line and has worked under Pollack. While Eifert has heard what Martin thinks about Pollack, he has been impressed by what he has seen with his own eyes in OTA’s.
"“(Martin is) a big fan,” Eifert said. “With his success in Dallas you can see he knows what he’s talking about. He brings an energy. He’s hard-nosed, he’s got a gritty attitude. That’s what he passes on to the players. He’s tough on the guys, but the guys respect him.”"
Even according to some of the Bengals coaches the offensive line has been soft that last two seasons. Alexander failed to develop both 2015 early round picks in Jake Fisher or Cedric Ogbuehi which was another top reason he has gone. We will see in the coming season whether their failures to become solid starting tackles was due to Alexander.
Pollack will bring an aggressive approach to the offensive line. He doesn’t want them reacting, but to be attacking. Cincinnati needs that aggressive mentality up front and needs to see immediate improvement after a season where they yielded the worst rushing season in franchise history.
Between Bill Lazor’s new offense and Frank Pollack’s new offensive line, we should see a massive increase in offensive production. The Bengals relied too heavily on the defense last season that couldn’t cause turnovers. The offense still gets most of the blame for the shortcomings of last season. If Pollack can get a huge production increase out of the right side especially in 2018, it will show his abilities as a line coach.