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Thread: Offensive Line

  1. #1

    Offensive Line

    2018-03-19 9:37 PM | Geoff Hobson
    Changes front and center



    With Russell Bodine (left) now in Buffalo, T.J. Johnson (60) figures to move over a spot to center.

    Not only has the Bengals' offensive line started its overhaul with new players at the key positions of left tackle and center, it looks like it is undergoing a culture change in practice under new offensive line coach Frank Pollack.


    Pollack, the Cowboys former offensive line coach, is ordering a bevy of field equipment ranging from medicine balls for balance to "Big Brutus," a 350-pound swinging weight. Plus, he's got more sleds than Santa, something called a trap-and-chute, and arches.


    It's in marked contrast to the practices of Paul Alexander, the Bengals' long-time offensive line coach before he swapped jobs with Pollack in January. He pretty much used only blocking shields during a run he was considered one of the top line coaches in the league.

    "It's the first different offensive line coach in 23 years, so it's a different thought process. A different set of eyes, says Jeff Brickner, the Bengals director of operations. "Frank's got a plan and along with (head coach) Marvin Lewis we're just trying to give him what he needs."

    Better? Who knows? That's a philosophical question. Save that one for the clinics. But different? Yes, different.

    As different as the new center they'll have when Russell Bodine signed in Buffalo Monday. Bodine played every game since the Bengals drafted him in the fourth round in 2014. If you knew Kyle Cook in the 2013 Wild Card Game was the last non-Bodine start, go to the head of the class.

    Lewis and Pollack indicated they wanted Bodine back for the experience he brought to an offense already undergoing a bunch of changes and maybe even more on the offensive line. But his number was too high early last week and when the Bengals got other deals done as the week went on, they figured there weren't enough numbers left for a player that drew so many different reactions in the organization.

    There was the fact he never missed a game with toughness and durability, but there were also his annual position rankings on profootballfocus.com that were perennially in the bottom ten: 34, 35, 30, and 32.

    The conventional wisdom is the trade for Bills left tackle Cordy Glenn that drops them to No. 21 from No. 12 puts them in prime position to draft one of the top prospects at center. If not, later, since the draft is considered deep in the interior.

    Until then, the leader-in-the-clubhouse is T.J. Johnson, a reliable vet and a solid center at South Carolina before the Bengals took him in the seventh round in 2013. He's started just five NFL games and none at center, but the prospect of losing Bodine is why they signed Johnson to a two-year deal last year.
    Trey Hopkins, who started 12 games at right guard last season, has also taken practice snaps.

    Whoever lines up there, it doesn't matter. They'll be taking on Big Brutus and all the other equipment that Pollack, an intense stickler, uses to work on the tiniest of techniques that he used to help make what many thought to be the league's best offensive line in Dallas.


    Equipment managers Sam Staley (left) and Adam Knollman putting together a new field apparatus.

    There's the trap-and-chute, where the linemen must stay low near their stance and power through without touching a tight tunnel. The arches are also designed to keep them low when they simulate the movement in trap plays. There are pop-up bags, sand bags, and small tire-like objects that the feet must be balanced on while they catch medicine balls.

    And there are two different kinds of sleds. Pollack had a custom-made one-man sled built in Dallas with a pop-up bag that he's getting here. And there are a pair of two-man sleds each with an 85-pound weight on the pan.

    "From what we saw on the video," says Bengals equipment manager Adam Knollman, "he's got it working full with four guys going all the time."

    If it sounds organized, it is. Knollman says Pollack plans to meet with assistant equipment manager Sam Staley every morning of practice at 7 to go over what he wants on the field that day.

    "The guys in Dallas said he was great about it. Really organized," Knollman says. "Meeting with Sam, that will just make sure we don't have to drag everything out there every day. It depends on the practice. That makes it easier for us."

    The Bengals were looking for different up front. They got it.

    "Different strokes for different folks," Brickner says.

    Now they just have to figure out who the folks are.


    http://m.bengals.com/s/30838/360?ite...12641215512713

  2. #2
    "It's in marked contrast to the practices of Paul Alexander, the Bengals' long-time offensive line coach before he swapped jobs with Pollack in January. He pretty much used only blocking shields during a run he was considered one of the top line coaches in the league."


    I honestly can't believe this... I've read the article a couple times and it just makes my head spin.

  3. #3
    I've been reading for a couple of decades how unconventional Paul Alexander's coaching techniques are.

    Put me in the camp of those willing to embrace more conventional wisdom.

  4. #4
    I remember the blocking sled thing being a big point of contention for Ohio State fans and writers about 10-15 years ago. Some people were up in arms that the OL coach/OC, Jim Bollman, didn't believe in using them.

    Just googled it and found an article:

    "I just found out on Thursday these guys don’t use a blocking sled in practice," Johnson said. "I was shocked."

    The OSU running game, meanwhile, has been on a slide since the departure of tailback Maurice Clarett after his freshman season in 2002. Then Johnson learned offensive coordinator and line coach Jim Bollman doesn’t use the sled.

    "How can you teach people how to fire off the ball and block together, which our guys clearly are not doing," Johnson said. "That’s like building a house without a foundation under it."

    "That was the worst performance of offensive linemen that I have seen on a Buckeye team," Johnson said. "But it’s because they don’t work at coming off as a unit.

    "You’ve got these offensive linemen, big as they are, taking sidesteps before going forward. That’s why these defenses are gapping them (attacking the gaps between the linemen), and it’s why you see those running backs stutter-stepping sometimes. You can’t just keep blaming the backs. They need a place to run."
    I don't have a strong take either way, but it's interesting to see this debate crop up again so many years later with my other favorite team.

  5. #5
    It's worth listening to the podcast that Dan Hoard has up on Bengals.com... it's mostly Lap, and he goes into some detail on blocking schemes, and how he feels Pollack could change things up. And, he talks about some of the personnel on the OL currently, and how they might fit with that.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by texbengal View Post
    It's worth listening to the podcast that Dan Hoard has up on Bengals.com... it's mostly Lap, and he goes into some detail on blocking schemes, and how he feels Pollack could change things up. And, he talks about some of the personnel on the OL currently, and how they might fit with that.

    Bengals Booth Podcast: Times They Are A Changin'


  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by texbengal View Post
    It's worth listening to the podcast that Dan Hoard has up on Bengals.com... it's mostly Lap, and he goes into some detail on blocking schemes, and how he feels Pollack could change things up. And, he talks about some of the personnel on the OL currently, and how they might fit with that.
    Some of Laphams comments were interesting. Others were maddening.

    I liked the stuff about Pollack changing the Oline splits, depth of drops, and more emphasis placed on firing out and capturing the LOS. I know some of Alexander's "unconventional" methods were based upon controlling lateral movement at the LOS rather than driving defenders back. All things considered I thought the end result of years and years of Alexander's methods was an increasingly passive Oline overall. Blockers like Bodine and Ogbuehi were too often judged and valued for how well they could absorb punishment instead of how well they handed it out. And along those lines I thought his remark about handing the ORG spot to Redmond made perfect sense.

    That said, his comparion of Trey Hopkins to past great Dwight Stephenson was ridiculous and I wasn't comforted at all by the reminder of how the Bengals once gave Matt Barkely a 2nd round grade. I also disagree with the idea of Preston Brown being one of the great steals of all of FA. I might agree if it were more than a 1-year deal.

  8. I just hope the era of "Paul's guys" is finally over. Trash players like Nate Livings, Guycheck, Kyle Cook, Bodine that keep getting rolled out there week after week.
    ORANGE n BLACK

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by HOF View Post
    Some of Laphams comments were interesting. Others were maddening.

    I liked the stuff about Pollack changing the Oline splits, depth of drops, and more emphasis placed on firing out and capturing the LOS. I know some of Alexander's "unconventional" methods were based upon controlling lateral movement at the LOS rather than driving defenders back. All things considered I thought the end result of years and years of Alexander's methods was an increasingly passive Oline overall. Blockers like Bodine and Ogbuehi were too often judged and valued for how well they could absorb punishment instead of how well they handed it out. And along those lines I thought his remark about handing the ORG spot to Redmond made perfect sense.

    That said, his comparion of Trey Hopkins to past great Dwight Stephenson was ridiculous and I wasn't comforted at all by the reminder of how the Bengals once gave Matt Barkely a 2nd round grade. I also disagree with the idea of Preston Brown being one of the great steals of all of FA. I might agree if it were more than a 1-year deal.
    I"m not sure he was comparing the two, other than the long arms comment. I mean, Stephenson might have been the best C ever, or at least in the last 40 years. Hopkins is a fringe starter, at best.

    I agree on Barkely... I don't like his game much and I hope they still draft a QB. I think he's a downgrade from AJ at the backup spot, and Driskell might be better, too.
    And Preston, yes... a one-year deal isn't optimal, but I'm guessing if he plays well, they will try and extend him, and him being a local guy can only help his resolve to stay - if they make a competitive offer. And who knows what will happen with Burfict, and I'm guessing it's Vinny Rey's last year.

    One other thing Lap indicated that I found interesting... re: having the OL "firing out" at the LOS maybe playing to Ced's athleticism. I don't have a lot of hope for him that he'll ever amount to much, but it'll be interesting to see if/how he develops under Pollack. Same with Fisher.
    Last edited by texbengal; 03-24-2018 at 12:39 PM.

  10. Not getting Geoff-love for TJ Johnson. Showed literally nothing at guard in terms of strength/movement...this will translate better to center?

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