CINCINNATI, OH -- Since their last playoff appearance following the 2015 season, the Cincinnati Bengals have experienced a significant drop-off in their offensive production.
When they went 12-4 in 2015 and reached the playoffs for the fifth straight season, Cincinnati ranked seventh in the league with 419 points and 15th in total yards. In the last two seasons, the Bengals are 13-18-1 and offense is a key reason for the decline.
In 2016, the Bengals ranked 24th in points and last season they dropped to 26th for their lowest ranking since going 2-14 in 2002. While Andy Dalton has appeared in every game the last two seasons, the quarterback has endured 80 sacks.
The combination of Dalton being unable to avoid oncoming pass rushes and ineffective offensive line play resulted in the underwhelming performances and shoring up that area were a priority for Cincinnati.
The Bengals hired Frank Pollack to coach the offensive line after he did the same for the Dallas Cowboys and he was part of a major reconstruction of the coaching staff.
The reviews in OTAs were good but it comes down to talent.
And the hope is Cordy Glenn is as good as advertised after taking over at left tackle a year after the departure of Andrew Whitworth. The Bengals also hope Billy Price can provide Dalton with ample protection at center after using their first-round pick on a center for the first time since selecting Dave Rimington in 1983.
While the Bengals are counting on a pair of new players, they are also hoping a position change for Cedric Ogbuehi works out. He has struggled in his first three seasons, but was moved from tackle to guard where he thrived at Texas A&M before being drafted in 2015.
"I told them Day 1 everyone here has a clean slate," Pollack said. "What you have done in the past is really irrelevant to me. You can go from the penthouse to (the) outhouse real quick. Hopefully, you go from the outhouse to (the) penthouse just as fast, but it takes a lot of work."
If the reformed offensive line is as effective as the Bengals believe, it could give Dalton plenty of time to connect with receivers A.J Green and Brandon LaFell while developing chemistry with young receivers such as John Ross.
Last season, Dalton threw 25 touchdown passes but his 3,320 passing yards were the second-lowest of his career and the lowest of any season where he did not miss a game.
"There's going to be years like that," Dalton said. "(Can't) get as frustrated like I did last year -- just got to stay who I am and continue to play."
After two years of disappointing line play, Dalton and the Bengals are hoping the changes result in the effective offense they were accustomed to and give them a chance to play beyond Week 17.