Bengals Rotating Their Struggling Tackles, And They’re Not Loving It

Remember that whole thing where the Cincinnati Bengals didn’t really have the answers to their offensive line issues? Well that’s still a thing. Take, for example, the fact that they rank 28th in the league in averaging 84 rushing yards per game. Their 3.2-yard rushing average is underperformed only by the David Johnson-less Cardinals’ 3.1-yard average.

And that is with a stable of three high-round draft picks at the running back position. So maybe, I don’t know, it’s the fact that they don’t even have a stable offensive line. They have been rotating three players across both tackle positions in recent weeks, and nobody is particularly happy about it.

A few years back, the Bengals felt that they were preparing for their inevitable future, knowing they would eventually have to move on from the aging Andrew Whitworth at left tackle, and they did not re-sign Andre Smith, another former first-round pick of theirs, either.

Instead, they invested in the draft, taking first Cedric Ogbuehi and then Jake Fisher in the first and second round in 2015. They tried to start Ogbuehi at right tackle last year. He got benched, and replaced by Fisher. He got benched, and replaced by Eric Winston.

Now Ogbuehi is playing at left tackle and Fisher is playing at right tackle and they have had to rotate Smith, whom they re-signed this year with the intention originally of starting him at right guard to replace Kevin Zeitler, whom they lost along with Whitworth in free agency this year.

Smith never even played left tackle in a game before, but now he has started there and at right tackle this season, rotating in liberally on both side with nobody really approaching 80 percent of the snaps played individually. And nobody is really happy about the arrangement.

Asked if he thought the rotation was helping, Ogbuehi said, “no, I can’t say that it does”, according to “I think true helping is when you’re playing. Every snap you learn. But you’ve got to do what you’re told”.

Fisher over on the right side wasn’t too pleased with the process, either. “It’s tough man”, he told reporters. “It’s like writing a paper. If you write half the paper and then someone comes in and writes a couple sentences and then you’ve got to start it back up you miss those two sentences, you miss that part of the paper that you’re writing”.

“For us, that’s what our coaches want us to do, so we have get it done”, he added.

For what it’s worth, the Steelers attempted this rotation back in 2013 during the second season of the careers of Mike Adams and Kelvin Beachum. Beachum rotated at both tackle spots during the first four weeks—Marcus Gilbert was in his third year after missing most of his second—but ultimately displaced Adams at left tackle after four games when the latter was benched.

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