September 22, 2014

Looking Glass Game: Andrew Whitworth

I have been asking you to take a peak through your personal looking glass and tell me where you think some of the current anchors of the Bengals will ultimately rank among the pantheon of Bengals past once they hang up their cleats. It has been fun to consider the many candidates who would make up a Bengals Ring of Honor… if they would ever create one.

So far we have considered Andy Dalton, Jermaine Gresham and Leon Hall. Thank you to everyone who has weighed in. If you have not voted on any of these players yet, you can still do so.

Today I want to consider Andrew Whitworth, the left tackle whom some feel should garner more credit from the national press than he gets. Once regarded by many fans as a true guard who would be overmatched at tackle, Whitworth has become a solid protector of the blind side for Palmer and Dalton. He has occasionally struggled with false starts and holding penalties, but he has not given up many sacks. Even being saddled with Nate Livings next to him, Whitworth has proved most of the push for the running game, with most of the modest success it has seen in the past few years coming when running behind him. He has also proven to be very durable, missing only 10 games over 6 seasons.

Since linemen do not amass many stats, comparing Big Whit to his predecessors is even more of a gut-feel situation. (But aren’t the subjective questions the most fun?) Even though they aren’t exactly the same, I have included both left and right tackles in the comparison.

#1: Anthony Munoz. Anthony is one of the highest rated linemen of all time, arguably the best to ever play left tackle, and still the only Bengal in the Hall of Fame. He remains a popular figure in Cincinnati and is often cited as the greatest player in franchise history.

#2: Willie Anderson. In many ways, Willie picked up Anthony’s mantle and was a dominating force on the line for a decade. Despite ending his career in Baltimore, he remains one of the more popular players to suffer through the Lost Decade. Personally, I consider it a shame that the Bengals have not reached out to Willie to extend his connection with the organization, such as by mentoring Andre Smith.

#3: Joe Walter. Walter was the bookend to Munoz during their dominant run in the late 80′s, culminating in their second SuperBowl appearance. He was not as dominant as Anderson, who took over his spot in 1997, but he was still a factor in creating opportunities for guys like James Brooks and Ickey Woods to shine.

#4: Levi Jones. Jones is one of many guys we will always wonder about how his career might have gone had it not been for an injury. We tend to remember how his time ended badly, with his foot injury severely impeding his play on the heels of signing a significant contract. But if we recall all of his career, he was an important piece of the 2005 and 2007 seasons. He had been able to maintain that level of play for a few more years, keeping Whit at left guard, who knows how differently the end of the last decade may have turned out.

Now it is your turn to weigh in. If you are of the mind, leave a comment about where Andre Smith could end up as well.