Bengals Bye Week Report Card: Defensive Line

The Bengals defensive line is probably the strength of the team and the main reason that the Bengals have the No. 2 ranked defense in the league and why the team as a whole has climbed up the power rankings every week. It's easily the unit on the team with the most depth and the most talent.

Here is a basic breakdown of the defensive line's statistics through the first six games of the 2011 season:

Week 1 (at Cleveland):

Week 2 (at Denver):

  • Rushing Yards Allowed: 131
  • Sacks: 2 (Atkins, Johnson -- Johnson also forced a fumble)
  • Tackles: Johnson (7), Dunlap (4), Fanene (3), Peko (3), Atkins (2), Sims (2), Rucker (2)
  • Defensive Pressures: Johnson (1), Atkins (1), Fanene (1), Dunlap (2)
  • Quarterback Hits: Atkins (1), Fanene (1)

Week 3 (San Francisco):

  • Rushing Yards Allowed: 50
  • Sacks: 4 -- Rucker (1), Atkins (1), Fanene (2)
  • Tackles: Peko (4), Rucker (3), Atkins (2), Fanene (2), Johnson (2), Sims (2), Dunlap (1)
  • Defensive Pressures: Peko (1), Johnson (1), Atkins (2), Fanene (3), Dunlap (2)
  • Quarterback Hits: Peko (1), Johnson (1), Dunlap (1)

Week 4 (Buffalo):

  • Rushing Yards Allowed: 83
  • Sacks: 1 -- Atkins (0.5), Johnson (0.5)
  • Tackles: Atkins (2), Fanene (1), Johnson (3), Peko (6), Dunlap (2), Geathers (2), Rucker (1), Sims (2)
  • Defensive Pressures: Johnson (1), Rucker (1), Dunlap (5)
  • Quarterback Hits: Atkins (1)

Week 5 (at Jacksonville):

  • Rushing Yards Allowed: 96
  • Sacks: 3 -- Rucker (1), Sims (1), Fanene (1)
  • Tackles: Peko (5), Rucker (3), Atkins (2), Sims (3), Fanene (1), Geathers (1)
  • Defensive Pressures: Johnson (2), Rucker (1), Dunlap (3), Sims (2)
  • Quarterback Hits: Johnson (1), Fanene (1), Dunlap (1)

Week 6 (Indianapolis):

  • Rushing Yards Allowed: 94
  • Sacks: 1 -- Johnson
  • Tackles: Fanene (2), Johnson (3), Atkins (1), Geathers (3), Rucker (2), Sims (4), Dunlap (1), Peko (1)
  • Defensive Pressures: Atkins (2), Dunlap (2)
  • Quarterback Hits: Atkins (1), Fanene (1), Dunlap (1)

Grade: A

The defensive line has amazing depth and because of that they wear offensive lines down. They also haven't had much difficulty applying pressure to quarterbacks without the help of the linebackers or secondary which allows the cornerbacks, safeties and linebackers to cover receivers downfield instead of helping the line rush the passer. Also, two defensive linemen have had a touchdown this season -- Atkins scored against the Jaguars and Dunlap scored against the Colts.

They have also been tough against the run throughout the season, only allowing Willis McGahee to run over 100 yards against them. 

The defensive line is by far the biggest reason the Bengals defense is in the top three defenses in the league.

What grade would you give the Bengals defensive line through the first six weeks of the 2011 season?

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