Cincinnati Bengals offensive line just has to be average in 2021

Jonah Williams, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jonah Williams, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

By now, the storylines of the Cincinnati Bengalsoffensive line have been beaten to death but there’s a reason for that. The offensive line was really bad a season ago and it led to rookie quarterback Joe Burrow getting seriously injured.

That can’t happen again this year or down the road if the Bengals want to be successful. They have a special player in Burrow but they won’t fully know what he can do if the offensive line can’t protect him.

In Gregg Rosenthal of’s list of projected starters for the AFC North, he mentioned that all the Bengals offensive line has to do in 2021 is be average and that would indeed be a huge improvement for Cincinnati.

"Coaching has been as big an issue on the offensive line as talent. While head coach Zac Taylor remains, there is hope that returning OL coach Frank Pollack can steady the ship. All the Bengals need is this group to be average."

Can the Cincinnati Bengals offensive line simply be average this year?

Joe Burrow was sacked 32 times through his 10 games last year and that can’t happen again. The division is tough enough as it is but if the o-line can’t keep the quarterback upright and healthy, the Bengals won’t progress from the basement of the division.

With the additions of Riley Reiff in free agency and Jackson Carman in the draft, there’s hope that the Bengals’ o-line really did improve this offseason. It’s not crazy to think that this unit could indeed be better when the season kicks off and that Burrow won’t be running for his life every snap.

Stripe Hype’s own Glenn Adams mentioned that fans were confident in the offensive line until Morgan Moses became available in free agency and then fans started to question if the unit really was good enough. This is common amongst the NFL whenever a key free agent becomes available.

While the o-line isn’t going to be on the same level as a team like Indianapolis, they’ll be better. The team got a lot of criticism for passing on Penei Sewell and taking Ja’Marr Chase instead, but Rosenthal wrote that he understood why they did that:

"It’s easy to see what the Bengals were thinking when they passed on Penei Sewell for Ja’Marr Chase. Not only could the Bengals have the best young wideout trio in football, but the offensive line doesn’t look that bad on paper. I promise! Second-round pick Jackson Carman slides into one of the open guard spots. Riley Reiff has been a competent tackle for most of his career. Left tackle Jonah Williams, already solid, could ascend one more year removed from a torn ACL."

What the Bengals’ 2021 season boils down to is this — If the offensive line can improve, even just a smidge, the team should be able to surprise some people. If, however, Carman struggles with his new position and the unit continues to struggle, history could repeat itself.

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Being average in 2021 would be fine for the Bengals’ offensive line, but will it happen? That question remains unanswered.