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Bengals Andrew Whitworth Having Better Season Than Pro Bowl Selections

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“Most of the (Web) sites and other stuff I’ve seen have Joe and I as the most efficient tackles in the league,” Whitworth said. “I think what happens is all those other guys are top five (draft) picks. That’s hard to fight. But I know what kind of year I’ve had so it doesn’t matter."

We know that Andrew Whitworth is putting on a mask, hiding his disappointment not being named to the 2012 NFL Pro Bowl. And while we theorized last week that Whitworth's struggles in the running game wasn't helping his Pro Bowl cause this year, it doesn't mean that the team's starting left tackle wasn't getting jobbed due to name recognition stemming from Hollywood movies and high draft selections. Compared to the tackles named to the Pro Bowl, Whitworth was absolutely jobbed.

This year's Pro Bowl selection at tackle was an echo from last year, with Cleveland's Joe Thomas and Miami's Jake Long being named starters and D'Brickashaw Ferguson named as the backup. Joe Thomas is as deserving as anyone, one of the league's premiere tackles and having a fine season to show for it. Yet his numbers are very comparable to Andrew Whitworth, who wasn't even named the first alternate on Tuesday. [Note: Whitworth became the first alternate on Wednesday after the Miami Dolphins put Jake Long on Injured Reserve]

On the other hand D'Brickashaw Ferguson has allowed eight quarterback sacks compared to Whitworth's three. When the Jets run the football behind Ferguson, New York is averaging 2.42 yards/rush, dead last in the NFL. We've noted Whitworth's struggles recently in the running game, only because he's an exceptional tackle. Yet with those struggles in mind, the Bengals rushing offense is still averaging 4.22 yards/rush when running directly behind Whitworth, roughly 17th in the NFL.

And few tackles in the NFL can claim a better body of work in pass protection than Whitworth this season. And if not Whitworth, Tennessee's David Stewart, Houston's Duane Brown and Eric Winston were just as deserved for Pro Bowl consideration.

Pro Football Focus even questioned the selections of Long and Ferguson, writing:

Along with Joe Thomas, Long and Ferguson have formed a trio of excellence at the top of the left tackle tree over the past four years – but that doesn’t mean they deserve automatic selection to the Pro Bowl every year, especially when others are more deserving. Ignoring for a second the total discrimination against right tackles, Long (who started the season off looking less than 100%) and Ferguson have been outplayed by guys like Duane Brown, Andrew Whitworth and Branden Albert. Decent years for both men but nowhere near their best, and nowhere near the best. Their reputation may grow with another Pro Bowl spot, but it’s at the expense of peers who have truly earned it this year.

Pro Football Focus' grading scale:

PFF Grade Run Grade Protection Grade QB Sacks Pressures
Joe Thomas 10.6 -5.1 18.4 3 15
Andrew Whitworth 9.7 -6.6 14.6 3 13
D'Brickashaw Ferguson 4.5 -8.8 6.7 8 20
Jake Long 4.4 -0.3 4.4 5 15

This isn't like last season where Whitworth was arguably the best offensive tackle in the NFL, shutout of the Pro Bowl even though fans were the only reasonable voices that genuinely selected someone that most deserved it. Others may deserve it more than Whitworth, and maybe it could be argued that they've established better seasons than Whitworth. But you'll never get me to admit that guys like Jake Long or D'Brickashaw Ferguson deserved it more, no matter how flawed the selection process is (aka, "oh, I know him").