In the aftermath of the Bengals loss in Super Bowl LVI, there’s been plenty of post-mortem analysis for why Cincinnati wasn’t able to reach the NFL’s mountaintop. One of the more well-documented reasons comes along the offensive line and the lack of protection that unit was able to give second-year quarterback Joe Burrow.
This has been Cincinnati’s Achilles heel for the past few years. In 2020, poor play along the O-line contributed to the then-rookie quarterback tearing up his knee and those problems continued to bleed into this regular season where Burrow was sacked 51 times. The former No. 1 overall pick being under siege didn’t subside in the playoffs either as he was taken down an additional 19 times, totaling 70 sacks on the season.
In Super Bowl LVI, the unit was able to hold its own in the first half as they gave up just one sack, but then things collapsed over the final two quarters where they let the likes of Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and the rest of the Rams defense to post six sacks en-route to the win.
Following the announcement that he inked a contract extension with the Bengals, head coach Zac Taylor did come to the defense of his O-line amid the scrutiny and placed some blame on his play calling.
“We just have to be better as a unit,” said Taylor, via the official team website. “I think that we’ll just look to improve the team any way that we can and not specific to one necessary group. The offensive line helped us get to the Super Bowl. They gave us opportunities to go win the Super Bowl. Everything always falls on them statistically, but that’s not always the case. There are play calls that could be better to help put them in a better position. There is a lot that plays into all that. They were an offensive line that helped us get to the Super Bowl and gave us opportunities to win and I think they should be commended for that.”
While Taylor does make a solid case that there are multiple factors in the breakdown of keeping Burrow — who suffered a sprained MCL in the Super Bowl — upright, improving the talent level along the offensive line needs to be priority No. 1 for Cincinnati this offseason. It’s simply not sustainable for Burrow’s career to take that continued abuse on a yearly basis and even players on the roster have noted as such.