Offensive line gets surprising praise from Bengals exec

Kristen Wong
Jackson Carman, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Jackson Carman, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive line could experience a major shake-up this offseason, but the position group could also see a number of familiar faces return in 2022.

Joe Burrow’s front five allowed him to get sacked 70 times on the year, and while the Bengals’ O-line wasn’t the worst performing unit in the league, changes clearly need to be made.

Guards Hakeem Adeniji and Quinton Spain should be swapped out after their disappointing performances in the Super Bowl, and out of all members, tackle Jonah Williams may be the only piece worth keeping.

Duke Tobin, the Bengals director of player personnel, spoke to the media on Tuesday about the state of the offensive line moving forward, emphasizing that the team will explore all avenues to protect Joe Burrow this offseason.

No one expected Tobin to just throw the entire offensive line under the bus, but no one thought he would have so many nice things to say, either.

Cincinnati Bengals executive Duke Tobin is a little too nice to the offensive line

Tobin focused on the offensive line’s “invaluable” playing experience this past season and suggested the team would carry several current players into the roster for 2022.

"“The playing experience they got will be invaluable. Often offensive linemen make their biggest jump from Year 1 after feeling the intensity of the NFL and playing against NFL guys, and believe me, they played against good NFL players. So they’ll carry that forward and that will be a real benefit going into Year 2 with some of these guys.”"

He also noted that the linemen were rightfully AFC Champions this past season, which he considers a huge achievement on their resume. He name-dropped Jonah Williams in particular for his solid play, noting how the team still has confidence in Williams as well as the other offensive linemen.

"“Are there improvements that he and the group can make? Sure, there are improvements that can be made. But we feel fortunate that Jonah’s around and again, he’s an AFC champion, too, just like Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase.”"

All in all, these are not the sentiments of a team trying to reupholster its front five and aggressively find quality linemen to support Burrow in 2022. Tobin’s comment that “improvements can be made” should elicit eye-rolls and head shakes as he primarily just states the obvious.

Yes, these O-linemen can improve for next season, but the question is whether they can improve enough to make a Super Bowl run and avoid another 70 sack year. That doesn’t seem likely given the current group of Bengals players and their very obvious ceilings.

There’s nothing wrong with Tobin expressing optimism about the Bengals’ offensive line heading into the 2022 season, and on the surface it bodes great for team morale. Still, it just seems like there’s a slight disconnect between Tobin’s words and Cincy’s urgent needs.

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Maybe we’re just reading too much into this, but we hope Tobin, the coaches, and the players are all on the same page this offseason.