Rewind to this past February -- The Cincinnati Bengals had lost the Super Bowl and a lot of the blame went to the offensive line and for good reason. Joe Burrow was sacked seven times, including on the final play of the game.
A little over a month later, the Bengals went to work on making sure that their offensive line would not cost them something as big as a Super Bowl ever again. It started with the free-agent signings of Alex Cappa and Ted Karras on the first day of the legal tampering period. Cappa was brought in to man the right guard spot while Karras could have been the option at either left guard or center, the Bengals went with him at center.
The last of the free-agent additions to join the new-look offensive line was La'el Collins, who fans were the most excited about of the three. Collins had been released by Dallas and the Bengals made sure that he didn't leave Cincinnati without agreeing to join the stripes.
The Bengals drafted Cordell Volson in the fourth round and probably didn't expect him to be a starter but he beat out the disappointing Jackson Carman for the starting left guard role. Meanwhile, Jonah Williams was the only returning starter on the o-line.
In the first two games of the season, we finally got to see how this new-look group would do when working together and it wasn't good. Burrow was sacked 13 times in the first two games and the Bengals went on to lose both of those games.
From Weeks 3 to 7, however, things changed and the offensive line played much better. We've seen now that a lot of that could be as a result of the defenses not being as impressive because Cleveland absolutely wrecked this unit in Week 8, sacking Burrow five times.
The Bengals paid for a good o-line and have gotten anything but
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus ranked all of the offensive lines and put the Bengals at 27th, meaning he thinks that Cincinnati has the sixth-worst unit in the league. This is after the team spent a combined $74 million on three offensive linemen this offseason. It's simply inexcusable.
I know that this new unit was going to need time to gel but we're eight weeks into the season now and they haven't looked much better. Maybe down the road this group is much better but they sure didn't look anywhere close to that mark in the blowout loss to Cleveland.
Something Monson mentioned in his write-up was that no member of the Bengals o-line had a run-block grade above 68.0, which also explains the issues with the run game. At least last year when the pass-blocking was atrocious, the run-blocking was solid. They could create running lanes and help Joe Mixon dominate even when protecting Burrow proved to be too much of a challenge for them.
This year, however, that's not working for them either. The Bengals threw boatloads of money at these guys to make sure that Burrow didn't get sacked 51 times again and instead, he's yet to make it through a game without getting taken to the ground at least once. Even last year he managed to go one game without getting sacked.
The offensive line has been a disappointment eight games into the season but the good news is that there's still nine more regular-season games to be played. If this unit can finally gel, perhaps that'll be enough to propel the Bengals to the playoffs and they can work on repeating as AFC champs and winning the Super Bowl.
Right now, though, that seems like an impossible task given what we've seen from this offensive line.