Sophomore Slump: Not For Bengals Defensive End Carlos Dunlap

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Frank Gore #21 of the San Francisco 49ers is brought down by Carlos Dunlap #96 of the Cincinnati Bengals after a short gain in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

How good was Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday? The left defensive end generated five quarterback pressures, knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage and scored one of the top defensive end grades for week four at Pro Football Focus.

He’s certainly had the time to get himself ready, as the Bengals seemed incredibly reluctant to bench Robert Geathers for the clearly superior Carlos Dunlap last season. Even now, Dunlap has only actually started one game, this one, despite playing 135 snaps to Geathers’ 58 this season. Maybe they don’t want to disrespect Geathers, who has been a loyal servant to the Bengals for years, but players understand this is a business, and one driven on bottom lines, and the bottom line here is Dunlap is much better, and he’s earned it. Dunlap’s +6.1 PFF grade against the Bills was his best of the young season and came from five pressures, a batted pass, and a defensive stop. Given the pressure he’s been generating it’s quite remarkable that he has yet to notch himself a sack.

Additionally Dunlap has generated 11 quarterback pressures this season and hit the quarterback four times and posted five defensive stops; he's by far the team's most effective pass rusher, even without a quarterback sack.

On the other hand Geno Atkins, with five quarterback pressures, has already recorded 2.5 quarterback sacks (at least a shared sack in three straight) and he's a shared sack away from tying his career-high three sacks from 2010.

These guys are damn good.

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