Sep 14, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth (77) during introductions before the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati defeated Atlanta 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Recently, popular football site Pro Football Focus has been ranking their Top 101 players of the 2014 season.
Despite the Cincinnati Bengals qualifying for their fourth straight playoff appearance in 2014, the team only ranked two players amongst their top 101, which is somewhat surprising considering how impressive some players were.
The highest rated Bengal on the list was offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth who may have had his best season of his career in 2014; impressive stuff from a player who’s supposed to be on the down side of his NFL career. Whitworth was ranked as the league’s 16th best player. Here’s what PFF had to say about the 2014 All-Pro:
"“How flawless was Whitworth in pass protection? He didn’t grade negatively once all year in this regard and had an incredible 10 games where he didn’t give up any pressure at all. Thats remarkable even when you consider the help the Bengals scheme provides in getting rid of the ball quickly. Throw in some excellent run blocking and it’s amazing Whitworth isn’t more highly regarded around the league.Best Performance: Week 13, CIN @ TB, +5.1Key Stat: Gave up just nine QB disruptions all year which was the lowest of any tackle to start at least 10 games.”"
Nine disruptions all year is incredibly impressive. Andrew Whitworth has been a stalwart on the offensive line and a perennial leader for the team. His protection on Dalton’s blindside is invaluable and should continue to keep Dalton comfortable in 2015. He also is a versatile player. When Clint Boling tore his ACL in 2013, Whitworth moved to left guard and became a road-grader in the running game. He displayed impressive athleticism and ability to block in space. Having Whitworth is a blessing for the Bengals.
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The second and final player to make the list was A.J. Green. Despite missing several games, Green remained the offense’s best and most prolific weapon. PFF listed him as 2014’s 92nd best player. They had list to say about the Bengals biggest offensive weapon:
"“Missed time but still broke 1,000 yards thanks to his five games above the 100-yard mark (including one +200 effort). Green you always feel is a guy capable of doing more with consecutive finishes in the nineties possibly a little low for a man with his upside. But it’s still an achievement and he isn’t always blessed with the most consistent quarterback play.Best Performance: Week 14, PIT @ CIN, +3.6Key Stat: 2.59 yards per route run were fourth most of all wide receivers.”"
As good as Green has been, PFF is spot on with this analysis. Green does have incredible upside, yet has left many fans feeling like there’s more to offer; admittedly, this is a selfish suggestion considering he finished the 2013 season with 1,426 yards and 11 touchdowns. That said, PFF is also right to point out that Green would likely reach another level of production if Andy Dalton held up his end of the bargain consistently. Until this happens, or the Bengals find a more capable quarterback, Green may never reach this next level.