The Cincinnati Bengals might have won their Divisional Round matchup against the Tennessee Titans but had they lost, the biggest storyline surrounding them this offseason would have been the atrocious performance by the offensive line.
The unit surrendered nine sacks on quarterback Joe Burrow and allowed him to get hit a total of 13 times. It was an ugly, ugly performance and if this doesn’t force the front office’s hand at getting a legitimate o-line, I’m not sure anything ever will.
Now, yes, some of those sacks were Burrow’s fault. He held onto the ball too long at times but even if we take those sacks out of the equation, he was still sacked six or seven times when it was all said and done with.
The Bengals won the game, but the offensive line can’t perform that poorly next week in the AFC Championship Game or this team won’t be vying for a Super Bowl.
Offensive line needs to be top priority for Bengals
The starting lineup on Saturday was (from left tackle to right tackle): Jonah Williams, Quinton Spain, Trey Hopkins, Hakeem Adeniji, and Isaiah Prince. The right side in particular struggled but really, the whole unit had a bad night.
As far as I’m concerned, no one’s job is safe moving forward.
Williams is probably going to be the starter at left tackle but that doesn’t mean Cincinnati can’t be aggressive and go for a big name like Orlando Brown Jr. That was actually something that was brought up last week and at the time, it didn’t make a ton of sense but now, Brown could be a viable option.
Cincinnati has known that Joe Burrow would be their quarterback since they secured the No. 1 pick early in 2020. Even with that knowledge, this is the best possible offensive line the organization could put together for their franchise quarterback? That’s pretty pathetic.
The Bengals getting to where they are without a good offensive line is impressive, but as we saw in last year’s Super Bowl, it’s going to come back to bite them at some point. They can’t continue to hope that Burrow will make magic happen when he’s not getting solid protection.
The good news is that the offensive line can certainly be fixed. Just look at what the Chiefs did in less than a year with their offensive line. That unit was atrocious in last year’s Super Bowl but now, it’s one of the best in the league.
Kansas City landed two amazing starters in the draft (one in the sixth round too, which is wild) and was also aggressive in free agency and the trade block. They added Brown in a trade and signed Joe Thuney in free agency, giving them their left tackle and left guard and shoring up that side of the line.
The Bengals need to take notes from Kansas City’s playbook when it comes to their offensive line. With Spain and Riley Reiff hitting free agency, Cincy has tons of questions they need to answer. Spain has been pretty good for the most part but if the team can find an upgrade this offseason, they need to it in a heartbeat.
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Burrow is in the prime of his career and if the Bengals want to get the most they possibly can out of him, the offensive line has to be fixed in a major way.