With 11 weeks of football played the Cincinnati Bengals still seem to have a lot of trouble in the protection category. Fans of the Bengals could not have prepared themselves for how shockingly bad the new offensive line unit has been.
The Bengals' season has proved nothing so far, as the new offensive line didn’t do much to protect Joe Burrow in the backfield. He has been sacked 32 times, which is tied for second only behind Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears with 40, and yet, Burrow’s sack numbers don’t show any sign of going down.
The additions of La’el Collins, Ted Karras, and Alex Cappa were supposed to prevent Burrow from being put on his butt as much as he was last season with 51 sacks in the regular season and 70 on the year including playoffs. A lot of the struggles of this unit, however, have been on the tackles, as Collins and Jonah Williams have had their fair share of issues. Williams actually leads the league in sacks allowed with nine.
The Bengals spent $88 million on the new offensive line and it hasn’t shown that the money was spent well by any means. The purpose of the move was to keep Burrow upright, but it hasn’t seemed to help in a little as he is still one of the most pressured quarterbacks across the entire NFL.
Bengals new-look OL has struggled to protect Joe Burrow
Bengals fans can only imagine what Burrow would look like behind a good offensive line as he is already tearing up opposing defenses while having little to no time to make plays down the field. With how the offensive line has looked in pass coverage it doesn’t look like the players listed above are earning the big money they were paid to play here as a protector of Joe Burrow.
When Burrow is pressured quickly it forces him to get rid of the ball before he is ready causing poor decisions and hard throws. This has been evident this season as Burrow threw four interceptions in Week 1 against the Steelers due to the constant pressure he was under during that game. Burrow has been sacked nine times across two meetings with the Steelers a number much too high for any two-game stretch.
The Bengals had one of the worst offensive lines last season but still managed to make it to the Super Bowl. This season is looking the same in terms of the offensive line as they still don’t look great, and it appears to be due to a lack of chemistry between the unit. It almost appears all the new faces on the offensive line caused a new problem, not of talent but lack of proper communication. The Bengals front office may have tried to do too much with this overhaul of talented new guys to the offensive line.
There is little time for them to get it figured out as the season is at the point where losing a game could break the season. The Bengals sit at 6-4 through 11 weeks and are poised for another playoff appearance if they can continue winning despite the poor offensive line play. Fans can hope that with time the offensive line will get better, but no one truly knows and with how they have played thus far it doesn’t look like the Bengals will have a top-ten offensive line.
What is obvious is that La’el Collins and Jonah Williams still need to prove that they can protect the man who has turned Cincinnati around in a matter of three years. The Bengals made the right move by trying to protect Burrow, but it seems they fell way short.