The Bengals had a lot of positives from the preseason game against the Bears, but the backup offensive linemen were not among them. PFF agrees.
The Bengals first preseason game revealed a lot about the team as a whole, but maybe most of all along the offensive line. One of the biggest question marks for the Bengals heading into 2018, the O-line had its ups and downs against the Bears.
To be fair, the Bengals have brought in a new offensive line coach in Frank Pollack, who has instituted a new zone blocking scheme. There will be an adjustment period for some of these guys, although the starters clearly separated themselves from the backups versus Chicago.
PFF bears that notion out, as the difference between starters and backups was very obvious. By looking at pressures allowed, there was a stark difference between the starters and backups, especially at tackle. Pressures allowed is one of the best statistics to use to evaluate the performance of an offensive lineman in pass protection.
The new starting left tackle for the Bengals, Cordy Glenn, had a phenomenal day, as he allowed zero pressures. Glenn only played the first quarter, along with many of the starters, but that means he also faced the Bears’ starting pass rushers. Glenn, acquired via trade from the Bills, was supposed to be the centerpiece of this line. So far, every report has been positive, and Glenn backed that up with a great performance against Chicago.
The backup tackles, on the other hand, struggled in their snaps against the backups. Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi, the first two picks of the Bengals’ 2015 class, both performed much worse than Glenn. Both Fisher and Ogbuehi allowed 2 pressures, which is not ideal playing against backups. Fisher was playing at left tackle and Ogbuehi at right, which is not their natural position. Still, both guys put up disappointing performances.
The other notable performance was Christian Westerman, who is vying for the starting right guard job. Westerman, like Glenn, did not allow a single pressure on the quarterback. Although he did not start the game, the consistency he showed blocking on pass plays was great.
He definitively outperformed Trey Hopkins, whom the Bengals listed as the starter for now. Westerman, in all likelihood, is a better fit for Pollack’s zone scheme since he has better mobility than Hopkins. Hopkins’ success last year was partially due to a man blocking scheme, which suits his strengths better. If Westerman continues to play like this, the Bengals will have no choice but to start him.
The starters are starting to come together, and the final product could be a very solid offensive line. The issue for this team remains the backups, which they may need to supplement with current free agents. Look for the Bengals to make a move or two and add another lineman.