Cincinnati Bengals’ Offensive Line is the Best in the NFL
Over the past three games, on 69 snaps, Cincinnati Bengals‘ running-back BenJarvus Green-Ellis has accumulated 348 rushing yards. Green-Ellis set a new personal record twice during that span for his Bengals’ career, yet during that time he has only broken three total tackles. In fact, on the day when he had his most yards rushing all season, running for 129 yards against the Oakland Raiders, he didn’t break a single tackle. Furthermore, Green-Ellis had his two longest runs of the season in that game when he ran for 48 yards off right tackle and 39 yards over left guard.
Over that same stretch, the Bengals’ Andy Dalton has only been sacked five times. Considering that in Week 9 he was sacked five times in just one game, that is a very low number. More importantly, during that time Dalton consistently had time in the pocket and was always throwing from a clean pocket on those snaps. For his efficiency, that is very important. Dalton threw his first two interceptions since that Week 9 game against the Denver Broncos this week against the Chargers and neither of those were a result of poor protection.
So how is it that Dalton has thrown 10 touchdowns to his last two interceptions and Green-Ellis is suddenly averaging just over five yards per carry? It’s simple really, the Bengals’ offensive line is playing better than any other right now. Ever since Trevor Robinson solidified the center position, the Bengals have had no clear weaknesses upfront and, more importantly, they have been consistently dominating opposing defensive lines in both facets of the offense.
Andrew Whitworth has always been an underrated left tackle, and he is having another consistent season, but Andre Smith stepping up has helped the two tackles move to another level. While Whitworth continues to shut down premiere pass rushers, Smith is playing a much more balanced game. He isn’t dominating rushers the way Whitworth is, but he is playing very well as a pass protector while also being a dominant focal point in the running game.
On the interior, Kevin Zeitler and Clint Boling have both been revelations at the two guard positions. Zeitler arrives as a first round draft pick, while Boling took the place of free agent addition Travelle Wharton who was lost for the season before his even begun. Both have proven to be better than average interior pass protectors while also being intelligent and tough run blockers. They have both been very consistent all season long, but were compensating for poor play at the center position at times. Once undrafted free agent Robinson was inserted into the lineup, the Bengals didn’t get a Nick Mangold or Alex Mack but they also didn’t have to worry about the position anymore.
There are a lot of teams in the league who have offensive linemen that excel in either facet of the offense. For the Bengals, they are currently playing with an offensive line that is not only playing well in both facets of the game, but dominating both facets of the game. Their performances are the biggest reason the offense has become so balanced and efficient.
Typically the Houston Texans are the presumed best offensive line in the league, but right now the Bengals are outproducing every other unit in the NFL.