BENGALS LT ANDREW WHITWORTH VS. GIANTS REs JASON PIERRE-PAUL AND OSI UMENYIORA
It could be anybody vs. anybody the way the Giants roll through the NFL's best group of pass rushers on the front four. Suffice to say how the Bengals protect quarterback Andy Dalton is going to be the No. 1 element deciding Sunday's game at Paul Brown Stadium (1 p.m.-WLW-AM 700) against the Super Bowl champs.
Start with a best of the best matchup. Whitworth, rated as the NFL's fourth-best pass protector by the web site profootballfocus.com, goes against the Giants 10.5-sack tag team of Pierre-Paul (6.5) and Umenyiora (four).
Whitworth is the first to talk about last week's problems last week against Denver's Elvis Dumervil, when he was flagged for two holding calls and a false start. Talk about a short memory. How about no memory?
"It wasn't holding, so I don't even think about it," Whitworth says.
What he's thinking about is three straight shutouts of Pittsburgh's James Harrison, Dumervil and, hopefully, the Giants tandem.
"These three weeks really show you what this position is made of and how crazy it is with all the different kind of great pass rushers; they come in all sizes," Whitworth says. "You've got smaller, real powerful guys like Harrison and Dumervil and long, tall guys like Osi and Pierre-Paul."
Harrison is 6-0, 242 pounds and Dumervil is 5-11, 260 pounds, leverage nightmares for the 6-7, 325-pound Whitworth. A factor, he says, in the refs calling holds because the eight-inch height difference gave the illusion he had his hands inside Dumervil's chest plate when they were really on top of him.
"They'll be different guys which probably plays more to my favor than Dumervil would. I'll go try to do the same thing I did to him," he says.
Umenyiora is a 6-3, 255-pound lightning bolt, the guy Whitworth most likely sees on third down who is 12th on the active sack list with 73. JPP is a frightening blend of everyone at 6-5, 278 pounds when Whitworth gets him mostly on first and second down. The 15th pick in the 2010 draft, JPP has 27.5 sacks in 40 career games.
"Osi is really fast, a little quicker guy. Pierre-Paul is just a bigger specimen who is athletic. Kind of along the lines of Carlos Dunlap," Whitworth says. "A bigger, long guy. Both are very athletic. In some ways they're kind of like what they had going in Indy with (Dwight) Freeney and (Robert) Mathis but these guys are bigger guys. They're going to play four wide, wide down linemen and go after the quarterback like crazy."
Dave Lapham, the long-time Bengals radio analyst who played every spot on the offensive line during 10 seasons, says it's a bit more of a conventional matchup for Whitworth, but still daunting.
"Those guys fit the mold more of the defensive ends he's used to blocking," Lapham says. "Osi is the only guy that stays outside. He's really fast. All the other guys can play tackle or end, which is an advantage. Pierre-Paul is a 6-5, 275-pound gymnast. He's that athletic. He can backflip with the best of them. Whit will hold his own. He won't lean. He's not overly aggressive, he's patient. He's not going to get caught going too far."
Whitworth doesn't think the concept of the game is going to be all that different than what went on last week with Dumervil and his partner, SAM backer Von Miller, the Bronco that got three sacks working primarily against the right side as well as also executing a variety of twists and games.
But he does think the structure of the game is going to be different.
"They're both so good that if one doesn't get there, the other might," he said. "They switch it up more than those guys did last week. Almost every down they're going to be (in a) different (spot)."
Whitworth had been asked during the week if he thought things would be made easier on him and right tackle Andre Smith if they got some help against the better pass rushers in the league in the form of running backs and tight ends "chipping" in a sort of double team.
That's the question that actually got Whitworth going on the topic of players and coaches dwelling on reasons for the losses instead of just worrying about winning. He noted that ProFootballFocus.com has the Bengals rated No. 2 in the league in pass blocking behind Denver.
"You look at the stats, pressures, hits and all that, I'm in the top three," Whitworth says of the tackles. "So, no guy has less hits, period. So, no, I don't think (help is) the issue. I think we are searching for reasons rather than just winning football games. We don't need to point fingers we need to make plays when we need to make them and win the football game."