The Cincinnati Bengals will need better protection against the Steelers’ daunting pass rush this weekend. Jonah Williams will play a massive role in doing so.
The entire Bengals’ offensive line is coming off a performance where they struggled against the Chicago Bears. The offensive tackle play was expected to improve this season, and that looked the case after the starting tandem did not allow one pressure in the season-opener.
In Week 2, the story was completely different for the Bengals’ starting tackles. Jonah Williams’ performance against Chicago was specifically disappointing, as there is an expectation that Williams could break out this season.
Pittsburgh’s elite pass rush gives Williams a big challenge that he can take advantage of. If he performs well in Week 3, the Bengals will feel great about their starting left tackle.
Why Jonah Williams could have a breakout performance vs. Pittsburgh
The most important position on the offensive line is probably left tackle because they protect the blindside of most quarterbacks. If Cincinnati could pick one position on the offensive line where they wanted great play, the first pick would likely be at left tackle. Most know just how important left tackles are in the NFL, it is almost a necessity to have an effective passing attack.
Williams is looking to establish himself as a good starting left tackle this season. As mentioned, he was great in pass blocking versus the Vikings in Week 1. However, he struggled mightily last week in Chicago. Williams’ poor performance cannot carry over against the Steelers, Pittsburgh will live in the backfield if Williams plays poorly.
While blocking the Steelers’ pass rush is challenging, this is a challenge Williams needs to conquer. At times, Williams has shown he can be a great pass-blocking left tackle. In the same breath, he has been inconsistent, which must change. Williams has acknowledged this and says he must improve his consistency.
The talent is still there for Williams and he can become the ultimate protection for Burrow. Now’s the time to do that against Pittsburgh’s ability to generate pressure. T.J. Watt is currently questionable with a groin injury for Sunday’s matchup. If Watt plays, Williams will be blocking either Watt or Melvin Ingram consistently on passing downs. Ingram is not an easy task either as he’s already totaled 11 pressures this season.
Williams can certainly have a good game in pass protection, he has not struggled the entire year. His pass block win rate is currently 17th in the NFL among tackles. While Cincinnati is hoping Williams becomes better than that, that’s still pretty good.
Williams’ ability as a pass blocker was also seen in Cincinnati’s preseason game against the Washington Football Team. Even if it was preseason, winning a one-on-one matchup against Chase Young is never easy, but Williams did it.
Williams knows how important this season is, he could secure a massive extension if he becomes that great pass-blocking left tackle Cincinnati is looking for. The Steelers matchup simply seems like a huge game for Williams. If he can perform against one of the NFL’s best rushes, he should be able to against anyone.
The game becomes even more important for him when Williams simply could not stand up to another great pass rush in Chicago. Ultimately, great left tackles perform against the best. Williams can immediately silence those doubts if he plays well on Sunday. Of course, this is all assuming Watt plays, which is not a guarantee.
It is very early into the season, there’s no reason to completely count out Williams based on one performance in Chicago. Williams simply had a bad game last week and he will be hungry for a bounceback this week. We will see what Jonah Williams is made of versus the Steelers.