PFF has a grim outlook for the Bengals’ offensive line

Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) /

Pro Football Focus doesn’t seem to think the Cincinnati Bengals did enough to fix their offensive line, the weakest unit on the team.

The Cincinnati Bengals’ coaching staff has sent an optimistic message regarding one of their weakest units in recent history, the offensive line. That’s to be expected, as no team is going to cast doubt around a portion of their roster, no matter what the reality may be.

Still, fans can take comfort in the fact that offensive line coach Jim Turner and others were preaching the same message even before the draft and free agency period, suggesting it was their plan all along to roll with the guys they already had under contract.

However, one of the most respected networks in the football world, Pro Football Focus, doesn’t share the same bright outlook for the players manning the trenches in Cincinnati. While ranking every offensive line group heading into 2020, the Bengals wound up second to last.

Despite the grim outlook, Jonah Williams, one of PFF’s highest-rated players from the 2019 draft class is set to return from injury and anchor the line.

"“The good news is the return of 2019 first-rounder Jonah Williams…Williams was a polished college player who finished with the nation’s third-best overall grade (89.2) in 2018. Even in his first year of action, he should bring some stability…”"

The expectations set for Williams in 2020 is one point that the Bengals’ coaching staff and PFF agree on. It seems that respected parties, both from within the organization and outside of it, believe that the former Alabama standout has the physical tools, collegiate experience, and mental makeup to be a rock-solid tackle for the team from day one.

The interior offensive line is a big question mark

Where things begin to look questionable is when the focus shifts from Williams on the outside to the options the Bengals have available along the interior. The leading candidates to man the two guard spots appear to be Michael Jordan and Xavier Su’a-Filo, who both have concerns.

"“…both Michael Jordan and Billy Price graded in the 40s and ranked among the bottom six guards last season… Xavier Su’a-Filo joins the three-way competition after posting his highest grade since 2016, a 60.1 mark that came on only 307 snaps.”"

PFF goes on to declare the Bengals’ guard situation as one of the worst in the entire league and it’s hard to argue with them on that front. Cincinnati is betting that Jordan can make a huge leap in his development and that Su’a-Filo can expand on the flashes he showed in a back-up role.

A glimmer of hope

PFF deals strictly with statistics and facts. While their analytics offer endless amounts of valuable information, the truth is, sometimes the game of football isn’t as black and white as numbers suggest.

There’s no denying Cincinnati’s big men upfront had a forgettable season, as has been the case for the past several years. However, they did begin to gain momentum down the stretch of last year. Young players such as Jordan and Fred Johnson pieced together some of their best performances.

Not to mention, the guys already used to donning the orange and black have been afforded an entire season to build chemistry with one another, a benefit that can’t really be quantified.

Related Story. Analyst details how the Bengals can fix their offensive line. light

Make no mistake about it, the Bengals are gambling by placing Joe Burrow behind such a young offensive line. But on the other hand, the unit is certainly not devoid of talent and they have a chance to exceed expectations.