The man tasked with addressing the biggest weakness that plagued the Cincinnati Bengals in 2018 said the fix should be simple.
“That’s the art of coaching – taking something complex and making it simple,” said Frank Pollack, the new Bengals offensive line coach.
An NFL coaching veteran of 11 seasons, the last five of which were in Dallas as the Cowboys constructed one of the best offensive lines in the league, Pollack spent 20 minutes talking to reporters Thursday during a break before watching the offensive line prospects compete in the bench press at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
“As I’ve told all my linemen, in the grand scheme of things, you guys aren’t getting paid the big dollars because you’re off the chart scholars,” Pollack aid. “It’s because you’ve got physical athletic tools and ability that no one else has. That’s line No. 1. So let’s make sure we’re maximizing that. If you’re playing slow because you’re trying think and figure out something, that’s bad coaching on me. You’ve got to play fast. Play fast, play physical and let’s go.”
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It was that kind of aggressive, fast-acting approach that landed Pollack in the first place.
Shortly after it was announced that Pollack would not be returning to the Cowboys staff and 23-year veteran offensive line coach Paul Alexander would not be back in Cincinnati, the Bengals had Pollack on the phone asking him how quick he could get to an airport.
“Uh, can you give me a couple hours,” Pollack said he told them. “They were, I guess, somewhat surprised (I was available) and flew me out and I went through the interview process. It went very well, and somewhere in the middle, early afternoon they said ‘hey, we’re going to make an offer. Are you interested?’”
That was Jan. 11. In the 50 days since, Pollack has watched a lot of Bengals film, which outside of a few introductory phone calls to each offensive lineman is the most he can do until the players report for offseason workouts in April.
Pollack offered his thoughts on tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, who have had their share of struggles since the Bengals drafted them in the first and second rounds in 2015.
“They were drafted high for a reason,” he said. “I’m excited to be able to work with them and see if I can help them grow as players and improve the Bengals in my area. I see a lot of good, positive stuff. They’ve got a lot of upside still. They’re young players. I guess the jury is still out on all those young guys.”
Another one of the young guys is center Russell Bodine, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 14.
“I think he’s got a lot of great qualities,” Pollack said. “The whole free agency stuff, hopefully things work out, and I’ll be coaching him.”
One Bodine’s future is decided and Pollack is able to, as he put it, get “my hands on them and work with them,” he said the process of implementing his scheme will be methodical, not rash.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to do stuff that they can do and execute well,” Pollack said. “They’re NFL players. They’re in the league for a reason. They’ve got skills. They’ve got talent. Now it’s my job and our job as a staff to put them in the best position to have great success.
“Now I see some stuff on tape. As I get to work with them more, I know what I want to do. Some of it’s going to be similar. Some might be vastly different. You don’t need to give them the whole shooting match in the first sitting. You piece it a little bit and you build on it. What’s the old expression, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. That’s going to be my approach.”