Despite Optimism, Clint Boling’s Exit Hurts Bad
Bengals starting left guard Clint Boling announced his retirement due to blood clots on Monday. Throw in a season ending injury to first round pick Jonah Williams, and the offensive line shuffle that Cincinnati tried desperately to avoid is alive and well.
Even before yesterday’s announcement, the Bengals seemed to be planning for life without Boling. First year head coach Zac Taylor remains optimistic about his offensive line, but every NFL team is optimistic in July. Moreover, no coach ever publicly says his team is in trouble at a certain spot. Their job is to calm panic, not create more of it.
Still, there is no way around the fact that losing Boling is a massive blow to a unit that was already a question mark. Even in the stats obsessed world we live in, we have yet to come up with a really good way to track offensive linemen.
Still, here is all you need to know about Boling. He started 109 of 111 career games. The vast majority of those starts came at left guard. He started all 16 games there three times. No offensive lineman gets written down on the lineup card that often without doing his job exceptionally well.
The former fourth round pick entered the league in 2011 and became a full time starter a year later. It is often said that referees could call holding on every play. There is some truth there. Yet Boling had six holding penalties in his entire career. Also, when Cincinnati’s offensive line played poorly in recent years, Boling was almost never singled out individually on television and radio.
As mentioned in the linked article above, the Bengals have options at left guard and the rest of the offensive line. They also have time to figure out the best line combination. However, the reality is absent some sort of unforeseen trade, none of the possible solutions involve players the caliber of Boling.