How do you build an elite ground attack in the NFL when quarterbacks rule the league? Well, it helps to have a set of running backs who can deliver a combination of smash-mouth power runs and elusive athletic maneuvers, and a blocking fullback certainly helps. Without a strong left guard to lead the way, though, all of that talent could trip over itself behind the line of scrimmage. On Tuesday night, the Cincinnati Bengals found a way to keep their own bulldozer in town by agreeing to terms with free agent LG Clint Boling, according to two sources at NFL.com:
Boling was selected by the Bengals in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL Draft and worked his way into the starting lineup to begin the 2012 season. He missed the last four games of the 2013 season after tearing his ACL on Halloween agains the Miami Dolphins, but surgery on New Year’s Eve gave him enough time to recover, make it into camp, and open the 2014 season, once again, as the starting left guard.
The Bengals have drafted well at running back the last two years, brining in Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill, who have both turned out to be revelations in the backfield. Bernard combines quick elusiveness with pass-catching abilities to make for a versatile offensive weapon, while Hill showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie season to suggest that he might develop into one of the league’s better backs.
Yet most forward progress on the ground for the Bengals the last two years has started with Boling’s clearing a path, or at least holding defenders at bay on the line. It’s no coincidence that the Boling was drafted the same year as quarterback Andy Dalton and that the Bengals have made the playoffs each year since despite Dalton’s mostly mediocre play.
Cincinnati is bucking the trend in the NFL by winning with a stout running game, and re-signing Clint Boling gives them their best chance to build on what they have established these past three seasons.