As was the case for the Pittsburgh Steelers several years ago, the Cincinnati Bengals are hoping that a change at offensive line coach ends up being the best move they make this offseason. They moved on from their long-time coach and replaced him with Frank Pollack from the Dallas Cowboys, who ironically hired Cincinnati’s former line coach.
For the Steelers, the hiring of Mike Munchak made a world of difference for Marcus Gilbert, a 2011 second-round pick at the time heading into his fourth season, a contract year, and somebody who had struggled to live up to his draft status.
It is true that he was already on the path toward improvement, and in fact had begun a new workout regimen and diet the previous year to help him get into better playing shape, which was a big part of his ability to improve his performance. But the impact Munchak’s teaching had on him is undeniable.
The Bengals are now hoping that Pollack will have similar success for their own young, high-pedigreed right tackle entering his fourth season. Cedric Ogbuehi was actually a first-round pick in 2015, the 21st-overall selection, and was to be the heir apparent at left tackle.
He got an opportunity to start at right tackle in his second season when Andre Smith left in free agency, but he struggled so much that the team began rotating Eric Winston in for him, the veteran playing more snaps. He was eventually benched outright and fellow second-year player Jake Fisher rotated with Winston instead.
Back at left tackle last season, where he thought he would do better…he didn’t. So now he is on his last legs after the Bengals did not pick up his fifth-year option and is not even 100 percent guaranteed to make this year’s roster.
But according to Geoff Hobson for the Bengals’ website, “he seems to have had his career revived” by Pollack. That is a bit presumptuous considering the fact that no team has even put pads on yet, and evaluation of an offensive lineman without pads really doesn’t mean all that much. But Cincinnati is cautiously optimistic.
“Ogbuehi is undergoing a change of scenery on his old team”, Hobson wrote, explaining that Pollack’s offensive line coaching techniques are also influencing the rebuilding offensive scheme under Bill Lazor, who replaced Ken Zampese as offensive coordinator two games into the previous season and who is largely starting from scratch in 2018.
At this point, the Bengals would be nothing short of relieved if they can at least salvage one competent starting at right tackle between Ogbuehi and Fisher, whom they drafted with their first two picks in 2015. They already gave up on the left tackle project, trading a third-round pick this offseason for Cordy Glenn.