Bengals’ offensive line finds its ‘rhythm’ in win over Jaguars

The Cincinnati Bengals found balance on offense and went from allowing eight sacks in their previous game to just one intentional sack for no loss on Sunday in their first win of the season.

It helped having a solid performance at the right guard spot for the first time since Xavier Su’a-Filo went down in the opening loss to the Chargers, but the offensive line as a whole performed under pressure after a week in which the unit faced much criticism for not protecting the team’s rookie quarterback better.

Cincinnati amassed 505 yards of offense, including 205 from the running game, in a 33-25 win over Jacksonville, and now looks to build off that performance in Week 5 against AFC North rival Baltimore.

“Our goal is to protect Joe Burrow and help our running backs run the ball, give Joe time to throw the ball to our receivers who are getting open,” left tackle Jonah Williams said Monday. “I think it hasn’t been a perfect season for the line so far so I’m sure that people are saying whatever they want to say but I think for us as a unit we just have to keep looking to the next game and keep doing better and what our job is.”

Burrow had been sacked a league-worst 14 times through the first three games, including eight times for losses totaling 56 yards in a 23-23 tie against Philadelphia in Week 3. His only sack Sunday was one that coach Zac Taylor said Burrow was asked to take to help eat up some clock on first down, with 2:49 left.

Williams said the offensive line didn’t do anything schematically different Sunday but a myriad things went right to help take some of the pass rush pressure off the line.

“I mean I think that if you watch the offense as a whole, I think everything was in rhythm,” Williams said. “And I think that, you know, us protecting was a part of that but additionally the receivers being open, Joe’s able to get the ball out a little bit faster. We had a lot of success running the ball to that opened up our play-action game that took some of the pressure off of everyone just pass rushing every place so I think there’s a lot of components you look at as a whole, I just think if you look at all offense in general. This past game was definitely our most well-rounded and productive as a unit.”

The only real change was at right guard, where Alex Redmond came off the practice squad to get his first action of the season. Redmond, a past starter for the team, had been waived with final cuts after a delayed start to his preseason because of injury.

With Fred Johnson and Billy Price not being able to fill the shoes of Su’a-Filo, the Bengals decided to give Redmond a shot and he might have earned a spot on the team.

“He fit in well,” Taylor said. “He had good chemistry there with Trey and with Bobby and brought a physicality there. And again, it wasn’t perfect. I think he would be the first one to tell you that but there were some things that he did a nice job of.”

Redmond was the starting right guard for 15 games in 2018 but was limited by injury last year and appeared in only three games. He said he had been dealing with ankle and other injuries, but the time off during training camp helped him heal his body, and he felt ready to go Sunday.

Taylor had mentioned him as a possibility at right guard early in the week but Redmond said he never felt like it was a given he would get a chance and he doesn’t assume he won the job now.

“I think really you’re competing to make sure you have a job every day,” Redmond said. “My tomorrow here isn’t promised. I have to stay humble and hungry. My job isn’t given to me. I have got out there work and make sure I solidify that spot every day. Is it up in the air? Sure, but I’m going to be the first one trying to get at it.”

Redmond said it helped having played next to Hopkins and Hart the last two years because he’s comfortable with them. Williams, who is in his first season playing, felt like Redmond was a positive addition.

“Alex is a great player,” Williams said. “He’s got a lot of violent physicality. I think that’s the first thing that the coaches and teammates notice about him. He wants to come off the ball and just dominate people every play. He did a lot of that, so it was good to have him back this past week.”

Despite the improvement Sunday, Williams said the offensive linemen weren’t overly celebratory about it Monday. It was a good feeling walking off the field with a win, but players had moved on by the next day.

“We came in today and we watched the film and we just didn’t pat ourselves on the back,” Williams said. “We saw everything we needed to get better at. But I think that when we’re walking off the field after a win, 200 rushing yards, we did a good job protecting the quarterback, I think we were excited for each other.”

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