The Bengals were in second place in the league in 2012 in sacks, bring the opposing quarterback down in the backfield a total of 51 times, just one sack behind the Rams and Broncos, who tied for first at 52. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins led the team in sacks with 12.5 and defensive end Michael Johnson was second with 11.5. Wallace Gilberry, another of the team's defensive ends, was third with 6.5 and Carlos Dunlap was fourth with six sacks.
This is the second season in a row that Dunlap failed to reach his rookie sack total of 9.5, which he reached in just 12 games. He also failed to reach that total in 2011, racking up just four sacks. While some may be disappointed in Dunlap and think that his production has slipped somewhat, the sack totals are completely misleading as he's still one of the best 4-3 defensive ends when it comes to rushing the passer.
Dunlap may not be the guy who is bringing the quarterback down, but he is certainly the guy who pressures the quarterback in the backfield the most. Dunlap had the most hits on the quarterback with 14 and the second most quarterback hurries with 34, according to the folks over at Pro Football Focus. He was also rated as the ninth best 4-3 defensive end in the league last year.
Due to the fact that the Bengals may not re-sign defensive end Robert Geathers for the 2013 season, Dunlap will likely get a lot more snaps this upcoming season. If the Bengals are able to re-sign Gilberry, he can rotate in and out to help keep Johnson and Dunlap fresh, but Dunlap could still take more snaps than he ever had in his previous three seasons.
Dunlap may not get the sexy stats but he driving quarterbacks right into the arms of Johnson and Atkins. He'll be entering the final year of his rookie contract in 2013 and one would hope that, like Johnson, he'll have a big year to finish out his first NFL contract.