What to expect from Frank Pollack and Bengals line

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Clint Boling #65 of the Cincinnati Bengals blocks against the the San Fracisco 49ers at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Clint Boling #65 of the Cincinnati Bengals blocks against the the San Fracisco 49ers at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals have worked to bolster their offensive line this offseason, and Frank Pollack should turn this line around quickly.

The Cincinnati Bengals were in dire need of improving their offensive line unit this offseason. The center point of talking about the struggles along the offensive line is the team letting Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler walk in free agency last offseason. In their final season with the Bengals, the offensive line ranked 13th in the league according to Pro Football Focus’ offensive line rankings for 2016.

In PFF’s rankings, Whitworth and Zeitler were the Bengals top pass and run blocking linemen in 2016. Whitworth ranked second among left tackles in the entire league both in pass blocking and overall grades. Letting both players walk was likely a mistake after former offensive line coach Paul Alexander failed to develop 2015 first and second round picks Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher into starting role players.

Without Whitworth and Zeitler, the Bengals offensive line ranked 28th last season giving up 158 pressures on quarterback Andy Dalton. The only player along the offensive line worth any recognition was left guard Clint Boling. The rotation of offensive linemen last season was a sure sign of the struggles as ten different offensive linemen played 80 or more snaps and each one of them gave up a sack.

Pass blocking was not the only place the Bengals line struggled. Running the ball was almost impossible last season as the overall running backs group ran for 3.6 yards per carry which are a franchise low. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor took over his spot after the team fired their offensive coordinator Ken Zampese following the week two loss. Even under Lazor, the team ranked 29th in total rushing attempts, and much of that came from the poor blocking of the offensive line unit.

Cincinnati moved on from Paul Alexander who had been the offensive line coach for over two decades. Bringing in former Dallas Cowboys offensive line coach Frank Pollack was in itself a vast improvement to this offensive line group. Pollack’s offensive line has ranked top five in the league every season over the last four years in Dallas and two of those years were ranked number one.

Head coach Marvin Lewis and the Bengals organization strived to bring in a change of culture following the 2017 season. Finding someone that would help develop an offensive line unit and become more aggressive is precisely what the Bengals were looking for when they signed Pollack.

"[Changing the culture is] exactly what Lewis sought as he attempted to re-build a unit that yielded the worst rushing season in franchise history. There had been whispers from among even their own coaches the previous two seasons that the line had been “soft,” the kiss of death for any line."

Following the signing of Pollack this offseason, Cincinnati made some moves to give him valuable pieces to add to the offensive line. The Bengals made a trade with the Buffalo Bills just before free agency period opened to acquire left tackle Cordy Glenn. When healthy, Glenn is one of the best left tackles in the league. The team also drafted center Billy Price in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. With Russell Bodine leaving for Buffalo this offseason, Price was a sure upgrade at the center of the unit.

The left side of the line seems to be fixed for the most part if everyone can stay healthy. The work will need to be done to the right side of the line where Pollack has plenty of young players at right guard and right tackle who has failed to reach their potential under Alexander. If we see a significant improvement along the right side of the line this season, we know that Pollack has done a great job this offseason. Even Lewis had some good things to say about Pollack:

"“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.”"

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Given Pollack’s major success in Dallas over the past four seasons and the additions of players this offseason, I think the Bengals offensive line has the potential to be in the top half of the league in 2018. There is still work to be done, and I’m not expecting a top five offensive line right away, but even just an average line production would bring miracles to the Bengals offense. If Pollack can get the offensive line taken care of and Bill Lazor’s new offense works, we could be looking at a very different offense in 2018.