Andrew Whitworth went to the Pro Bowl at left tackle last year and has been among the NFL’s best at the position for years. But the best left tackle in history says that Big Whit is even better at guard.
“Andrew has had a great career here, but I cannot remember a time where he has physically dominated defensive lineman the way he has at the left guard position,” said Anthony Munoz. “I’m loving it. I’m watching him dominate straight ahead. And I love him dancing around on the power (play).”
Munoz was in the broadcast booth for ESPN Radio during last Sunday’s win over the Colts and says that watching Whitworth reminded him of the guy that lined up next to him during the 1980’s.
“Max Montoya was probably one of the best pulling guards that I’ve ever seen – and not only because I played with him for 10 years,” said Munoz. “Max had a knack at 300 pounds to pull and cut down any defensive backs that were out in front of him. I see Andrew – everybody sees his size and his strength and how well he’s played at tackle – but man, the guy has a sense, he has that football awareness to pull around and unload on people. That takes a lot for a guard because you’re pulling around a lot of confusion. You’ve got your center and your other guard and sometimes the tackle, so you have to be able to do it physically, but you have to be able to have sight of what you’re going to hit. He does it as well as I’ve seen in a long time.”
The Bengals were forced to move Whitworth from tackle to guard two weeks ago vs. San Diego when Clint Boling went down with a season-ending knee injury. Cincinnati wound up rushing for 164 yards – one off its season high.
“He was a little bit of Babe Ruth out there,” said offensive line coach Paul Alexander. “He was hitting home runs and he was striking out a little bit. When he hit people he freaking knocked ‘em out.”
The Bengals stuck with the combination of Whitworth at guard and Anthony Collins at tackle last week and rushed for 155 yards in the win over Indianapolis.
“The running game over the years has been pretty good, but I believe right now that it’s as good as it’s been in a long time with the Law Firm and Giovani Bernard,” said Munoz. “For me to see that little pitch with the guard and tackle pulling out – those are things we used to do not only in college but with the Bengals. We used to run that with Max Montoya leading James Brooks around the corner and it’s great to see that again. And not only doing that, but then they’re lining up and running the power and just pounding people.”
“I call it the WWE – the WhitWorth Effect,” said former Bengal Artrell Hawkins. “An offense has to have something to hang its hat on. And real confidence comes from knowing that what you do works.
“It’s like a runaway locomotive. They’re so physical that there’s nothing you can do to stop it.”
“Andrew Whitworth is overpowering people,” said my broadcasting partner Dave Lapham. “He’s such a catalyst from a physicality standpoint because that stuff becomes contagious. Honestly, he’s made (center) Kyle Cook’s life better. When Kyle is double-teaming with Andrew Whitworth it’s an easier sled that working with Boling. That’s nothing against Boling – he’s just not as big and powerful of a drive blocker as Andrew Whitworth.”
Is Big Whit enjoying playing guard more than tackle?
“I think that depends on your personality,” Whitworth told me. “If you’re a guy that wants finesse and wants to play basketball a little bit, then you enjoy tackle. But if you’re a guy that loves to be physical, and hit people, and be violent, then you probably like playing inside. I love both of ‘em, but I think guard probably suits my personality.”
Of course, it would be impossible to move Whitworth to guard if Anthony Collins wasn’t doing the job at tackle. According to ProFootballFocus.com, Collins has been on the field for 193 passing plays this season without allowing a sack. He would be PFF’s top-rated pass-blocking left tackle if he had enough snaps to qualify.
“I had a chance to actually be at a workout with A.C. when he hadn’t even been drafted yet out in Arizona,” said Munoz. “One of the first things I saw was how athletic he is. I’ve always been impressed with his athleticism and his ability to move. I always thought that maybe he could be a little stronger, but I’ve always thought highly of A.C.”
“I’m going to be interested to see how Anthony Collins holds up against bull-rushers,” said Lapham. “Pittsburgh will bull-rush you and that is the only fly in A.C.’s ointment. Speed rushers he eats alive. The guy’s got tremendous feet and takes great angles. He can get that extra kick step and frustrate the speed guys that want to get on the edge. That’s basically what (Indy’s) Robert Mathis was trying to do. The first guy that comes in and tries to bull-rush him…it’s going to be interesting to see how A.C. holds up.”
Marvin Lewis is notoriously reluctant to change the depth chart issued early in the week to the media unless it’s absolutely necessary, but going into this week’s game in Pittsburgh, Collins is listed as the starter at tackle with Whitworth at guard.
“I would not change anything for the rest of the season,” said Lapham. “I would not change one iota of what’s going on up front.”
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