‘You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me’: Bengals OL Coach Had No Idea Team Was Pursuing Orlando Brown Jr.

The Cincinnati Bengals have made arguably the biggest move in the AFC North this offseason with the signing of Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., who has spent his career protecting Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes. He will now do so for Joe Burrow, an assignment he’ll welcome with open arms.

And Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack will welcome Browns with open arms—and perhaps a surprised look on his face. Asked how he got involved in the team bringing in the new left tackle on Friday, he said, “I was not expecting up to be in position to do anything for someone of his caliber, and it just kind of came on our radar, with me anyway, the day that we got that deal done”.

A team’s front office doesn’t just wake up on the first day of the new league year—or the first day of the negotiating window—and say, ‘Oh, I know, let’s got get a $16 million left tackle’! Duke Tobin and Zac Taylor knew what the plan was. Evidently the man who would be coaching Brown did not until it was about to become a reality.

“’You’ve got to be kidding me. Really? Wow’”, was his reaction when they came to him that day and asked him to take a look at Brown because he might be in play for them. “It was surprising, really”.

A former NFL offensive lineman, mostly with the San Francisco 49ers in the 1990s, Pollack began his coaching career in 2005, and has spent going on four seasons with the Bengals since 2018, broken up by a two-year stint with the New York Jets.

Jonah Williams has been the Bengals’ left tackle since 2020 after being selected 11th overall a year earlier. After the move was announced, he reportedly asked to be traded, though the team and Pollack are hoping to hold on to him, possibly moving him to right tackle, where incumbent starter La’el Collins is recovering from a torn ACL.

Burrow was sacked 41 times last season, or on 6.52 percent of his dropbacks, in the regular season. While that was an improvement on the previous year, it still left much to be desired. The star quarterback took another 10 sacks in the Bengals’ three postseason games, a rate of 8.4 percent.

On top of that, Cincinnati ranked 29th in the NFL in yards per rush in 2022, averaging just 3.8 yards. Joe Mixon rushed for 814 yards on 201 attempts with seven touchdowns, averaging 3.9 yards per attempt. Their number two back, Samaje Perine, left in free agency.

The Bengals signed three starters in free agency last year for the offensive line, with Ted Karras at center, Alex Cappa at right guard, and Collins at right tackle. Fourth-round rookie Cordell Volson beat out second-year second-round pick Jackson Carman to start at left guard, with Williams the only returning lineman.

In spite of the investments, the offensive line did not gel quickly by any means, and outlets such as Pro Football Focus graded them out as one of the worst in the league. Their high-powered skill positions are to be credited with masking this deficiency, but the Bengals are hoping to finally turn the line back into the strength that it once was.

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