Cincinnati Bengals: 5 bold predictions for the 2021 season

LANDOVER, MARYLAND - NOVEMBER 22: (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MARYLAND - NOVEMBER 22: (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Bengals
Jonah Williams #73 of the Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

Bold predictions for Cincinnati Bengals 2021 season

New additions on the offensive line lead to a major improvement

Since the departure of veterans Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler after the 2016 season, the offensive line has been the Bengals’ biggest problem. Over the past five years, it has seemed like the Bengals either didn’t know how to fix the line or didn’t care to try in the first place. However, this may be the season they finally get things right.

The first major improvement the Bengals made along the offensive line was in replacing the much-maligned offensive line coach Jim Turner with the well-respected Frank Pollack. While this isn’t Pollack’s first rodeo in Cincinnati, this time he will not only be coaching the offensive line, but he has the task of being the run-game coordinator.

Bengals’ running back Joe Mixon voiced his pleasure with this move when it was announced in January.

In addition to Pollack’s return, the Bengals brought in some new players to help along the offensive line as well. Veteran tackle Riley Reiff was one of the Bengals’ biggest moves of free agency and is likely to form one of the better tandems of tackles in the league alongside Jonah Williams.

According to PFF, Reiff only allowed one sack in his 1,003 snaps played in 2021, earning him an overall grade of 71.4. With Williams at left tackle and Reiff at right tackle, Joe Burrow has to feel good about his protection along the edge.

The bigger question mark is on the interior of the offensive line.

In the second round of the draft, the Bengals selected Jackson Carman, a versatile prospect from Clemson who could play tackle if needed but will likely start at the right guard position from day one. While many criticized this pick as being a reach, Carman is an immensely talented young player who could very well surprise everyone and be a force early in his career.

At left guard, veteran Quinton Spain was brought back for another year to compete with Xavier Su’a-Filo and more for the starting job. While this is probably the weakest spot on the line, the competition will help put the best player on the field, and neither Spain nor Su’a-Filo would be a liability if given the job.

Trey Hopkins is the man for the job at center, but until he is back from injury, Billy Price is a candidate to have a breakout. Price was originally drafted when Pollack was first on staff, and the offensive line guru may be able to crack the code and get the former first-round pick playing the way he was expected to when drafted.

Overall, the offensive line looks better today than it has since 2016. Many are still understandably skeptical, but don’t assume Burrow is going to be running for his life again this year.