This was originally published in The Athletic.
I posed five burning questions to Jay Morrison, who covers the Bengals for The Athletic. Here they are, with his answers....
OK, Jay. The tedium of training camp and the preseason are behind us. That means instead of obsessing over who the last wide receiver is on the depth chart and debating whether the Bengals should keep a kicker with literally no experience, we can focus on the more important, pressing questions that loom as the season begins. The last few weeks have dragged on – hell, the preseason was so long that you started it working for one media outlet and ended it working for another – but I’m pumped for the real games to start providing answers.
In that spirit, here are five burning questions I have for you about the Bengals.
Mo: As aggressive as the Bengals were in making upgrades, the work they’re doing on the offensive line feels like it’s a two-year project, sort of like what they’ve done on the defensive line. That’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, of course, because the Bengals have managed to keep top veterans on the D-line while also adding depth and youth, unlike their jettisoning of two very good, established lineman almost a year and a half ago. But it does feel like transforming their O-line back into the strength it was three seasons ago is going to take more than just a trade with the Bills and a first-round pick being used on a center. I feel like no matter how this season goes, the top of the Bengals’ offseason to-do list will look a lot like the one they worked from this past offseason, with making improvements on the offensive line a big priority.
As for this season, I can be convinced that Cordy Glenn will be a big help, and while I think a lot of people underestimate how hard it is for a rookie to step in and handle playing center, I believe that Billy Price can, at worst, be slightly better than Russell Bodine. At best, maybe he can be much better than his predecessor in the middle. But it also seems like a lot of people are trying to talk themselves into players like Bobby Hart, Alex Redmond and Clint Boling, guys who might not be starting for most NFL teams. What I saw this preseason from this unit was, for the most part, not very encouraging, especially when it came to run blocking. I believe the offensive line will be better than last season’s, but will it actually be, you know, good?
Jay: Not to answer your question with a question, but does it really need to be? I mean, given not just the number of weapons Andy Dalton has at his disposal, but the variety of them, I don’t see any reason this offense can’t jump into the top third of the league if the offensive line can just be OK....
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