CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 27: Geno Atkins #97 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates a sack of Colt McCoy #12 of the Cleveland Browns during their game at Paul Brown Stadium on November 27, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Browns 23-20. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
The discussion brews within every level of sports, generating the question with rapid fire responses, often associated with words people shouldn’t learn until their 45th birthday. The NFL released the AFC and NFC rosters for the 2011 Pro Bowl, with Cincinnati’s own A.J. Green taking his rightful place as one of the league’s top wide receivers. Ultimately these discussions take a wider approach of asking who was snubbed. And Geno Atkins, although a first alternate, was definitely snubbed.
Amongst all defensive tackles in the NFL, much less the AFC, Atkins leads everyone with eight quarterback sacks, 14 quarterback hits and ranks second with 25 quarterback pressures. Pro Football Focus rates Atkins first among defensive tackles with the league’s best pass rushing score (21.3) and overall grade (29.3). That’s not to take anything away from players like Richard Seymour, Haloti Ngata and Vince Wilfolk, all of whom made the roster as interior defensive linemen, all having fine season with plenty of name recognition.
But at the level that Atkins is producing? We think not.
Clark Judge of CBSSports.com makes the case:
He has eight sacks, tying him for the Bengals' record by a defensive tackle. Quick now, how many defensive tackles in the NFL have more this season? I'll tell you: None. There's a reason the Bengals remain in the playoff picture. Part of it has to do with their rookie quarterback and wide receiver, and part of it is the league's sixth-ranked defense, with Atkins playing a significant role.
We should point out that Judge also made the case for Andy Dalton over Phillip Rivers, who is tied for the league lead in interceptions.
Philip Rivers is one of my favorite quarterbacks, but, no, he did not have a Pro Bowl season. I don't care that he has over 4,000 yards passing. He is tied for the league lead in interceptions and his team is a disappointing 7-8. Dalton, on the other hand, won more games (9) than Carson Palmer in his first season and has the Bengals on the cusp of a playoff spot. So his numbers aren't gargantuan. He wins.
Pete Prisco from the same publication named Geno Atkins on his Pro Bowl team.