Bengaldom shifts gears from Super Bowl sprint to off-season marathon

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What solid offensive linemen are looking to join the Bengals culture and what is the upside of potential, coming out, with the group we have? Gerald (Gerry) Williams, Loveland, Ohio

GERALD: There will be fans who say, “Drop $20 million a year on Saints left tackle Terron Armstead,” Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 free agent. But it’s hard to see them spending so much on one guy when they have so many of their own defensive players (free safety Jessie Bates III, tackles Larry Ogunjobi and BJ Hill) to re-sign.

No doubt, however, they will focus on the offensive line. But, remember, they did it last year too, signing Riley Reiff and writing Jackson Carman, D’Ante Smith and Trey Hill. So probably the first question is where do they see these three guys who are already there and had shots in 2021?

The other intriguing question beyond their own young guys and potential free agents is whether there might be a BJ Hill-type trade out there somewhere.

It’s tough to clinch the free agency gold that’s poured out for the Bengals in 2021. But they’ll be looking. Bengals president Mike Brown has a big checkbook and he’s proven he knows the bottom right corner is where you leave the signature. But when he does, it will be because the deal fits and the player has enough support from scouts and coaches. A name on everyone’s lips may not even be on their board. I wonder who their Chidobe Awuzie is on the offensive line.

Like many, I appreciate the excellent work you are doing. I’m still concerned about where we’re going to set our O line. Is Carman our future at guard or at OT. Do we plan to quit Reiff? How about the center? Mike Kline, Englewood, Ohio

Mike: Thank you for your very kind words. I think they have a lot of respect for Jackson Carman, but they have to figure out which side he’s better on. They initially thought right guard/right tackle, but he seems more natural on the left side, where he played at Clemson. I think they would like to get younger than Reiff at right tackle. Rookie D’Ante Smith probably showed the most raw talent on the offensive line. But can they trust him to take over a starting tackle position? Could Reiff contribute as a bridge “just in case?” Expect them to give last year’s sixth-round pick Trey Hill a real shot at center or guard. The Bengals added four offensive linemen last year. Don’t be surprised to see them do it again and create competition for spots on the list.

Geoff, The real killer in the SB was the attempt to get the first down in the first quarter! They collected the ball in midfield and pushed it towards a TD. A punt near the end zone would have given them the ball inside the 10 or 20. In retrospect. Lynn S. Marshall, Cincinnati, Ohio

LYNN: Ah, in retrospect. The big brother of hindsight. I hear you. But Taylor has been at it pretty much all year in fourth-and-one and for the most part, it has helped more than hurt.

Go back to the very first game of the year and he would have been gagged for letting the Vikings back in a game the Bengals were leading, 21-7, when he failed fourth-and-one of his 30 to set up a Vikings . landing.

But the Bengals won in overtime, eliminating all guesswork. They won, largely because Taylor avoided placement on fourth-and-first for the Vikes 25 on the first practice of the second half, put Burrow under center, got two yards on a stealth shot and then got a TD to go up, 21-7. And don’t forget Taylor’s aggression against the Chiefs at The Paul on Jan. 2 that won the AFC North and made the playoffs possible.

So I don’t think it’s the decision to go there that’s in question. He throws an incomplete shotgun pass on fourth-and-one. In Taylor’s defense, the receivers were wide open and didn’t get the ball back. And his bold leadership in times like this is a big reason they’re a Super Bowl team.

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