Question No. 3: Can the offensive line be LESS offensive?
To be fair, everyone expected the Bengals’ offensive line to be just short of a sieve this season. Injuries, inexperience, and a new line coach are a recipe for disaster. However, the line has performed slightly better than expected this season, especially where run blocking is concerned. Much of this can be credited to Frank Pollack.
Many, myself included expected a career year from Joe Mixon just based on Pollack’s presence. Mixon hasn’t disappointed, and neither has Pollack. He has brought stability, professionalism, and discipline to the line. Anyone else happy not to see 2-3 false starts a game? Me too.
Unfortunately at this point of the season, injuries, particularly across an already thin line, will take their toll. What can the staff and line do to address this? There are no street free agents, nor any diamonds in the rough waiting on the practice squad.
So what’s the solution?
Burrow took a pounding against San Francisco. However, most of the abuse came when Burrow took 8-10 step drops and had to wait for routes to develop. Why? Why would it be advantageous to sit the franchise in a (collapsing) pocket waiting for a receiver to break open downfield? The answer is IT’S NOT!
In order to keep Joe Burrow from being murdered on a weekly basis, the line will need to make adjustments. Does this mean more 3-5 step drops? Maybe. You can’t sack him if he doesn’t have the ball.
Perhaps more 12 personnel to protect Burrow? Can you count on Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase to win their matchups and give Burrow somewhere to unload the ball under duress? You should. The Bengal skill guys are very good.
The point is, to aid an ailing line, the staff will need to get creative and slide protection, move Burrow around, and give the franchise just a little more protection to beat the Denver Broncos and right what should be a playoff-bound ship.
It’s time to stop the bleeding. The Bengals have squandered two consecutive golden opportunities to take control of the North.
If the Bengals can answer these three questions against the Denver Broncos, perhaps next week’s column will be much more positive.