Frank Pollack has heard enough about the purported mismatch of Super Bowl LVI -- the Cincinnati Bengals' pass protection against the Los Angeles Rams' pass rush -- and the Bengals offensive line coach isn't buying it. Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked an NFL-high 51 times in the regular season, and Pollack's maligned line is now preparing to face two elite quarterback hunters -- one inside, one outside -- in Aaron Donald and Von Miller.
"I don't pay attention to all the outside noise if you will," Pollack said. "The narrative is the narrative, I could care less. This is the ultimate team game. You need all aspects pulling in the same direction to have success. We're one of those facets, we're gonna keep grinding and let the chips fall where they may. I don't get caught up in all that stuff. That's a nice story for you guys and the fans to worry about. Not for us."
Pollack invoked basketball coaching great John Wooden, who won 10 NCAA titles at UCLA, in praising his line for its ability to play well in clutch moments. Pollack cited Wooden's "pyramid of success," which is topped by competitive greatness, and said his unit delivers that when it's needed most. That's a hard sell for Bengals fans who witnessed nine sacks of Burrow, an NFL playoff-tying record, in the Divisional Round against the Tennessee Titans. Pollack sees a silver lining even in that game, however.
"At the end of the Tennessee game, in the final drive the pass protection was flawless," he added. "In overtime in Kansas City, it was real exciting to see our guys take over the trenches and run the ball. And let Joe Mixon carry the rock downhill and get close for the field goal. That was exciting."
The Rams' sack rate of 7.4% ranked fifth in the NFL in the regular season, according to Next Gen Stats. Donald led the team with 12.5 sacks, and Miller added five after being acquired in a trade from the Denver Broncos. Along with Donald and Miller, Leonard Floyd notched 9.5 sacks of his own as the team totaled 50 on the year. But Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan echoed Pollack's confidence.
"I've got a ton of confidence in our guys up front," Callahan said. "They're battle-tested. They've played in tough games. They've managed. They've made mistakes. They've given up sacks. They just keep coming back and fighting. That's all you can ask for at this point in the year is for those guys to keep playing as hard as they possibly can for as long as it takes to win. That's kind of been their mantra all year long and they've done a great job of doing that. We might not have a line full of Pro Bowlers but we've got guys that play really hard and they play well together, and we're expecting a big game from them."
Burrow will need it.
And Pollack will surely have plenty to say if the narrative doesn't hold.