Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread: Revamped line must resuscitate offense for Bengals

  1. #1

    Revamped line must resuscitate offense for Bengals

    Revamped line must resuscitate offense for Bengals

    First-round pick Billy Price should step right into the starting lineup at center. John Minchillo/Associated PressJun 19, 2018

    • Katherine TerrellESPN Staff Writer

    The Cincinnati Bengals ended their offseason program on June 14. Here’s a look at how they fared:

    Offseason goals:
    Fix the offense. The Bengals promoted Bill Lazor from interim coordinator to fulltime offensive coordinator, hired a new wide receivers and quarterbacks coach, and went about trying to fix a broken offensive line. They traded for left tackle Cordy Glenn and re-signed tight end Tyler Eifert to a deal that was friendly for both sides. But considering how much the Bengals’ offense struggled last year, they have quite a battle ahead to fix things.

    How they fared: Average

    Move I liked: Trading for Cordy Glenn. The move to get Glenn was twofold — it showed the Bengals realized they made a mistake by letting Andrew Whitworth go with the expectation that former first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehiwould step up at left tackle. Ogbuehi has struggled at both tackle positions, and clearly the Bengals realize he probably isn’t starter material at the moment after declining to pick up his fifth-year option. This move also showed the Bengals’ urgency to fix the offensive line and surround Andy Dalton with good offensive pieces.

    Move I didn’t like: Failing to address the rest of the offensive line on the second day of the draft. Three of the five starters are presumably Glenn, Clint Boling and first round pick Billy Price, but right guard and right tackle are up in the air. Jake Fisher was the starting right tackle last year before his season ended early when he had to undergo a heart procedure. He’s by no means a lock to start this year, and right guard doesn’t have a set starter either. The Bengals addressed center by drafting Price, but they didn’t take another lineman until the seventh round. That could end up being an issue in the future.

    Biggest question still to be answered in training camp: The offensive line comes to mind when first considering questions about the 2018 Bengals, but the other big question centers around the team’s offensive weapons. The Bengals’ offense is never going to get out of last place if it continues to force the ball to A.J. Green for lack of a better option. That’s why Eifert, John Ross and Joe Mixon are going to be critical components. Eifert needs to stay healthy, and Ross needs to live up to his first-round status. Mixon had some solid games last season, but the Bengals are going to need him to keep improving as well if they want a shot to change the offense.

    Quotable: “I told our players as I stood in front of them on Monday morning, that regardless of who was standing in front of them when they got back together, they had to be ready to be a better football team. Internally, each of them, they have to be ready to press themselves, do more and be better, regardless of who was standing in the front of that room when they got back together." — Bengals coach Marvin Lewis on Jan. 3 after re-signing for a 16th season.

    Salary-cap space: $14,667,818

    2018 draft picks: 1st round: C Billy Price (Ohio State); 2nd round: S Jessie Bates III (Wake Forest); 3rd round: DE Sam Hubbard (Ohio State), LB Malik Jefferson (Texas); 4th round: RB Mark Walton (Miami); 5th round: CB Davontae Harris (Illinois State), DL Andrew Brown (Virginia), CB Darius Phillips (Western Michigan); 7th round: QB Logan Woodside (Toledo), G Rod Taylor (Mississippi), WR Auden Tate (Florida State)

    Undrafted rookie free agents signed: WR Ka'Raun White (West Virginia), RB Quinton Flowers(South Florida), S Trayvon Henderson (Hawaii), LB Chris Worley (Ohio State), LB Junior Joseph (Connecticut) DE Ja'Von Rolland-Jones (Arkansas State), RB Ray Lawry (Old Dominion), TE Jordan Franks (Central Florida), DE Gaelin Elmore (East Carolina) WR Devonte Boyd (UNLV), T Austin Fleer (Colorado Mesa), S Tyrice Beverette(Stony Brook), C Brad Lundblade (Oklahoma State), DT Chris Okoye (Ferris State)

    Unrestricted free agents signed: TE Tyler Eifert (Bengals), P Kevin Huber(Bengals), DT Chris Baker (Buccaneers), LB Preston Brown (Bills), QB Matt Barkley (Cardinals), TE Moritz Bohringer

    Restricted free agents signed: None
    Players acquired via trade: LT Cordy Glenn (from Bills)

  2. #2
    Not so old school in session

    Posted 1 hour ago

    Bengals offensive line consultant Jim McNally working a spring practice.

    Jim McNally, the godfather of NFL of offensive line play, had an offer he couldn’t refuse.

    At the wonderfully ripe age of 74, he could be new Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack’s father and center-guard Trey Hopkins’ grandfather.
    But when Pollack wanted him to join him on the field this spring to help him implement his battery of techniques, McNally became the proverbial kid in
    the candy store.

    “Absolutely. Absolutely,” says McNally with his customary zeal. “All I do is watch film, so I’m updated on all the new techniques. They weren’t calling
    me an old man, were they?”

    Definitely not. Hopkins, 25, born the last year McNally coached Hall of Fame left tackle Anthony Munoz in the final days of his Bengals legendary
    offensive line, finds him 74 years young.

    “He’s hilarious,” Hopkins said last week as the Bengals wrapped up their final workouts before summer vacation. “I love him. Even when he wasn’t
    coaching as much, you’d see him around and knew who he was. He’s obviously a great coach. He’s coached a lot of great players and he’s coached
    a lot of great coaches, too. He knows so many different techniques from all his experiences. Just a great guy to have as a resource.”

    McNally has been around Paul Brown Stadium since 2012 as a consultant, but mainly as a behind-the-scenes figure. Before this spring the players
    knew him mainly as the painstaking genius that crafted their weekly cutups of their opponents that they studied.

    But when Pollack got the offensive line job back January, he knew he had a daunting stretch ahead of him in not only helping offensive coordinator
    Bill Lazor write a new playbook, but also getting his linemen comfortable with his style of blocking.

    Help on the field during drills would be imperative. Pollack’s thing is reps. He wants them to get as many reps as possible, so three guys running a
    drill is faster than two and McNally was an easy ask. He wasn’t exactly a stranger. He mentored Pollack’s mentor, current Washington offensive line
    coach Bill Callahan.

    “Hey, you’ll love this stuff,” Pollack told him. “You invented it.”

    Plus, even though McNally’s last NFL line job was 11 years ago in his hometown of Buffalo, he’s never been out of the league and continues to do
    more camps, clinics and conferences than Mary Kay.

    Get Pollack in a weak moment and he’ll remember how when McNally was coaching the Bengals he was the one NFL line coach that found him at
    Northern Arizona and worked him out before that 1990 draft the 49ers took him in the sixth round.

    “Yeah,” Pollack says to McNally in mock disgust. “You didn’t draft me but you signed the kid from Montana.”

    “Scraffy. Scrafford. Kirk Scrafford,” says McNally of the Montana tackle that Pollack knows well since he played with him in Frisco.

    “He’s a walking bank of knowledge,” Pollack says. “He’s a legendary line coach. If there’s a Hall of Fame for line coaches, he’s first ballot. If I can get
    an ounce of knowledge of what he has, I’m going to take it.”

    McNally working the bag.

    Check out last week’s final Bengals’ practice of the spring and it looked like an offensive lineman’s version of Disney World where the Hall of
    Presidents were actually alive and in a three-point stance. If you wanted an idea of where the Bengals offensive line has been and where it’s going,
    all you had to do is take a snapshot:

    Over here is Dave Lapham, the civic treasure behind the radio mike who broke into the league in 1974 and could line up at all five spots on the
    Bengals offensive line.

    Next to him is the man McNally still calls “The Greatest Who Ever Lived.” Of course, McNally has been calling Munoz that for 38 years, ever since
    they came into the NFL together on the Bengals 1980 offensive line.

    Next to “Anth,” as McNally also calls him, is the big second-year man from UCLA that was waiting for them in Cincinnati. Max Montoya. Once McNally
    arrived, Montoya went to four Pro Bowls and became the Bengals all-time right guard.

    In fact, all three guys belong on the Bengals’ all-time line if you put Lapham at left guard. McNally did on the 1981 line that cleared the path to the
    Bengals’ first Super Bowl.

    Munoz, Montoya and McNally were still there for the second one in 1988. By the time McNally left the Bengals after 15 seasons in 1994, his cutting
    edge zone blocking became a huge chunk of the legacy left by the 1980s Bengals offenses with eight top five finishes and the back-to-back rushing
    titles in 198 and 1989.

    If you don’t think that’s relevant, you didn’t see Pollack come over to greet them at the start of practice.

    “Great players,” Pollack said. “Those guys were special. I wouldn't say Munoz overshadowed Montoya. But, the greatest of all-time, people say, right?
    He had some really talented players with him. Montoya was a Pro Bowl player. He was a freaking stud."

    As he watched Pollack, McNally, and assistant line coach Robert Couch deploy the linemen in various drills, Lapham recalled a Paul Brown line.
    Forget the era. The decade. The year.

    “It all gets down to blocking and tackling,” Lapham said.

    Plus, a Lap-ism: “In any sport, it starts with the feet and ends with the hands.

    Montoya watched them work their hands and arms he recalled the pad McNally used for his drills.

    “The JimmyJammer,” Montoya said. “Eye on the target. Jam it back.”

    That got Munoz thinking back to another McNally line when it came to using the hands and arms.

    “Force and switch. Force and switch. He always used to say force and switch,” Munoz said. “It makes it easier when you’re using your hands and
    punching to switch off. You start grabbing and holding and it makes it easier for the defensive lineman. You see so many (D-linemen) come off stunts
    because the O-linemen are mired in there instead of separating and seeing the next level.”

    McNally can’t hear them reminisce because he’s holding the pads and still teaching it to guys like Hopkins and rookie center Billy Price, a guy born
    the year before Munoz went into the Hall.

    Think Back to the Future’s Doc Brown meets Bill Gates. But McNally makes it clear he’s working for the 50-year-old Pollack. Pollack is the boss. It is
    clearly Pollack’s show. McNally has been studying Pollack’s verbiage and technique and waits for him to tell him what to do. After training camp
    McNally is going back home to Buffalo to continue to produce the weekly cutups.

    McNally may have been born before D-Day, but he hasn’t stopped living every day. He’s still learning. He believes the biggest change in line play
    since Munoz went to the Hall is the use of martial arts and the emphasis on torqueing the upper body in order to try and lift defenders “out of their
    shoes,” as opposed to shoving .

    “The big thing is we get on the same page,” McNally says. “Frank has worked with a lot of coaches, not just Callahan. He’s been with some great
    coaches. He played for Bobb McKittrick. He worked with Alex Gibbs. So I’m learning. Yeah, he played for Callahan, but everything is so different now.
    The most recent guy he coached with was Callahan, and the most recent guy usually has the biggest influence.”

    It doesn’t take long. McNally starts grabbing your arms and poking your chest in a sudden whirlwind attack.

    “The big change is martial arts. Use of multiple hand strikes,” McNally says. “Instead of just putting two hands on a guy. One arm is longer than two.
    Punch a guy with one arm, pull that arm off and cut with the other one. Pow!!! Like a Mike Tyson uppercut.”

    Hopkins has been listening and noticing.

    “He’s definitely playing a bigger role,” Hopkins says. “Especially with the techniques we have now. Especially in pass protection. We’re using our
    hands a lot more. Using a variety of kicks. Showing the defensive line different things as opposed to waiting to react to them. He’s got techniques that
    I have never seen before and I think he was kind of holding off on some of that stuff.”

    If Pollack says it’s OK, McNally goes ahead. Lapham, a big fan of Pollak’s approach and intensity, likes the chemistry. He sees why they hit it off.

    “When it comes to repetition breeds comfort level, Frank is cut from the same cloth,” Lapham says. “Up tempo. Get as many reps as you can. The
    thing about Jimmy is the stuff we did the first day of training camp is the same thing we did Super Bowl week, right down to taking our stances. You
    wouldn’t know you were in a game. You wouldn’t think. The night before you closed your eyes and you knew exactly what you were doing in practice
    the next day. All the repetition they’re doing here kind of reminds me what we did with Jimmy.”

    A few weeks ago McNally and Pollack were musing after a practice. Sometimes that consists of Pollack making him guess what tune is coming out of
    Pandora, but 99 percent of the time it is usually about line schematics. McNally recalled what Munoz once told him was the best coaching tip he ever
    gave him.

    “First move. Whatever you do. Get the hands up quick. Quick as you can. Hands up,” McNally recalled.

    As usual, Pollack’s wheels were grinding. McNally didn’t have a name for the drill. Except maybe, “Get Your Hands Up Quick As Hell Drill.”

    “You never know,” Pollack says. “Sometimes you have to invent drills.”

  3. #3
    “You really have to resist the temptation to evaluate the line without pads on,” Lazor told Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “It’s a real temptation for all the coaches, the players. I’m not saying you can’t evaluate their smarts, their play speed, but until the pads come on, don’t make any decisions up front. I really think that’s a temptation you have to resist.”

    “The sooner the better,” Lazor said. “But to me, there’s no time frame. I’m resisting the temptation to evaluate. Anything other than the things you can. Some guys when the pads come on and you can say, OK, this is why that guy was a good player.“


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts