Like a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth seems to only get more fine with age. Even with finding his way to a true role in his first three years with the Cincinnati Bengals, big No. 77 was a staple on the on the left side of the offensive line for 11 seasons.
He blocked for two franchise quarterbacks who saw some of the most productive seasons to have ever been had by a Bengals passer, as well as four different offensive coordinators. Yet, through it all, Whitworth remains the second-best left tackle this team has ever employed.
Accolades and milestones under Lewis:
Single-season passing records: Carson Palmer set the franchise’s single-season passing yardage record in 2006 (4,035) and 2007 (4,131) with Whitworth playing both left tackle and left guard. As a rookie and second-year player, Whitworth was shuffled around because of injuries to Levi Jones and the 2007 offseason departure of Eric Steinbach at left guard.
These marks were broken a few years later by Andy Dalton, with an immense 2013 season (4,293—still tops today) and more big numbers in 2016 (4,206), all with the big guy playing fantastic football on the left side. Dalton also holds the franchise’s single-season passing touchdown mark of 33, which he also set in 2013 under Whitworth’s watch.
All-Pro designations: 1 (additional one in 2017 with Rams)
Why he makes the list:
An immensely underrated player: Even though he was one of the best at his craft in this generation, Whitworth was criminally overlooked for his work. Be it because of the various stigmas that come with playing in Cincinnati, or other guys who had high draft designations in the conference (Jake Long, Joe Thomas, etc.), Whitworth was an afterthought by the NFL and the media, in terms of getting recognition.
Still, whether you look at the numbers set by Palmer and Dalton during his 11 Bengals seasons, or his Pro Football Focus numbers from the past few seasons, he has consistently been one of the best tackles in the game.
Longevity and leadership: Whitworth took a page out of the Willie Anderson leadership playbook and became a respected voice in the Bengals’ locker room. This particularly became the case during what could have been a very messy transition from Palmer to Dalton back in the 2011 offseason.
Community and fan favorite: You can say that this facet may be a bit biased and it’s why he’s pretty high on the list, but you can’t discount what Whitworth meant to the city of Cincinnati. His community work was well-noted and everyone who met him instantly had respect to the big guy.
Though he was tough and mean on the field, any fan who met him likely knew him as an affable, teddy bear-like guy. I personally had the privilege of doing so back in 2013 and also noted his other fan interactions, which were always positive.