All eyes will be on the Cincinnati Bengals‘ offensive line this season and for good reason. The unit was not good last year and allowed for a nasty hit on then-rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, who wound up missing the final six games of his rookie campaign as a result.
That can’t happen again if the Bengals want to dig themselves out of the hole they’re currently in. The team has made moves to try and improve their o-line but it’s still a red flag to Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report. He listed the offensive line as the Bengals’ biggest red flag entering the season.
Knox offered this analysis:
"Keeping Burrow healthy and on the field has to be Cincinnati’s biggest priority in 2021.The problem is the Bengals don’t feature a top-tier offensive line. Last year’s unit was awful, allowing Burrow to be sacked 32 times. In all, the Bengals line surrendered 48 sacks on the season."
Not everyone is buying that the Bengals’ offensive line is better.
Hey, after a season with as bad as production as we saw from the offensive line last year, it’s understandable that outsiders are skeptical that the unit truly has improved. The Bengals made it a point to add talent along their o-line including Riley Reiff (previously played with the Lions and Vikings) and second-round draft pick Jackson Carman.
The Bengals also drafted D’Ante Smith of Eastern Carolina and Trey Hill of Georgia in the hopes of developing them into starters someday. Smith, in particular, is an intriguing name and could be someone to watch this year should injuries occur and he’s forced into action.
Carman, the team’s second-round pick, exclusively played left tackle at Clemson but the Bengals haven’t made it a secret that they’re kicking him inside to guard. Cincinnati passed on Penei Sewell in the first round to take Ja’Marr Chase instead and that means their offensive line is going to get criticism whenever something goes awry because they could have had a fix for some of the issues.
It’s a big year for the Bengals’ offensive line and rightfully so. As Knox noted in the blurb above, 48 sacks were surrendered in 2020 and that’s far too many. That number has to come down significantly in 2021 if the Cincinnati Bengals want any chance of competing in the bloodbath that is the AFC North this year.