A Mile High worth of matchups

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on September 15, 2011 – 7:34 pm

Andrew Whitworth

A Mile High worth of matchups:

The Bengals never beat John Elway in the seven games they played him when he quarterbacked the Broncos. They hope to finally chase him down Sunday now that he’s Denver’s Executive VP of Football Operations.

But Mile High’s staggering homefield advantage from the Elway era is no more. Since they beat the Bengals in that infamous Christmas Eve game of ’06, the Broncos are 16-18 at home.

Here are some other matchups to watch:

Bengals LT Andrew Whitworth vs. Broncos SLB Von Miller: Miller, the very worthy No. 2 pick in the draft, is an engaging sort who said on this week’s conference call with the Cincinnati media that former Bengals middle linebacker Dhani Jones is a guy like himself with glasses, a bow tie, and he had a chance to get to know him during the lockout. He also had a chance to get to know Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton because he had a couple of high school teammates that played with him at Texas Christian and after constantly bumping in to him at rookie functions he calls Dalton, “My dog.”

“He’s a great quarterback. He’s got all the accuracy and the arm, but he’s an even better person,” Miller said.

But Miller, who had his name on the NFL Players Association lawsuit that grew out of the labor dispute, couldn’t remember the name of the big guy that is the Bengals NFLPA player rep.

“Number 77,” Miller said.

Well, left tackle Andrew Whitworth knows all about Miller and compares his closing speed “to a young John Abraham.”

“You can see that Miller has all the talent in the world and he’s got all the pass rush moves,” Whitworth said. “But what makes rushers really good is that closing speed and he can really fly.”

Whitworth is going to get Miller occasionally because the Denver rushers in the 3-4 switch sides, but it looks like Miller won’t get flipped with Elvis Dumervil because Dumervil looks like he won’t play with a shoulder problem. The 6-3, 237-pound Miller is going to be a challenge in the running game for guys like tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Colin Cochart and fullback Chris Pressley.

Those guys were rock solid when it came to igniting the run game last week in Cleveland, but their “bigs” were also a factor when they went with a few heavy formations with the game on the line. They might need more speed against the 3-4.

In the opener, Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden kept it simple for his rookie QB. He stayed pretty much with two backs, as well as double tight ends about 60 percent of the time compared to three-receiver sets, while keeping shifting and motioning to a minimum.

After giving up 190 rushing yards Monday night, the Broncos know the Bengals are coming at them on the ground. Expect what they gave the Browns last week in the first and fourth quarters.

BENGALS WRs VS. BRONCOS SS BRIAN DAWKINS: At age 37, the 6-0, 210-pound Dawkins is still a massive force in the run game and if running back Cedric Benson is going to go off on the next-to-last worst rush defense in the league, receivers A.J. Green, Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell have to get in his way. Dawkins, in his 16th season, has 37 interceptions while Green and Simpson, the Bengals starting receivers, have a combined 26 NFL catches.

The last time the Bengals saw him in the ’09 game, Dawkins had a game-high 11 tackles but the Bengals receivers weren’t known for blocking then like they are now. Dawkins was one of Denver’s last, best hopes Monday night against the Raiders.

The Bengals are still stinging from a blow by an unblocked Broncos hard-hitting safety. In the 2006 Christmas Eve loss that knocked them out of the playoffs, blitzing John Lynch popped the ball loose from running back Rudi Johnson in the fourth quarter as he dented the Denver 40 with the Bengals trailing, 24-17, in a game they would lose on a blown extra point.

BRONCOS QB KYLE ORTON VS. BENGALS DB COACH KEVIN COYLE:Orton is getting tremendous heat in Mile High, but he’s a guy that can hurt you. He’s got a 32-30 record, on Monday night against Oakland he recorded his 10th career 300-yard game, and he has an intriguing career stat of 53 TD passes and three picks in the red zone, a differential behind only Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.

But he’s been miserable against the Bengals. In one of his first NFL starts for the Bears he threw five picks against them in 2005 and take away the deflected 87-yard TD pass against them in 2009 and in his two starts he has a 31.4 passer rating against the Bengals.

Of course, the guys from ’05 are long gone except for Coyle. Two of the starting DBs are there from ’09 with cornerback Leon Hall and safety Chris Crocker, as well as the then nickel back Morgan Trent.

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