After finishing dead last in sacks during the 2014 season, the Bengals defense once again became a unit that terrorized opposing quarterbacks in 2015.
That was in large part due to Carlos Dunlap's continued ascension into becoming one of the league's best defensive ends. After being drafted in the second round out of Florida in the 2010 NFL draft, Dunlap has slowly grown into a star for the Bengals and someone who played at an elite level in 2015.
Dunlap, who just completed his sixth NFL season, finished 2015 with a career-high 13.5 sacks to go with 55 total tackles and two forced fumbles. Those 13.5 QB sacks were also a team-high and the fourth most of any NFL player this season. This was the first time Dunlap reached double-digit sacks after getting 15.5 from 2013-14 combined.
2015 was a record-breaking year for Dunlap, who officially passed Eddie Edwards as the team's single-season sack leader. Edwards set the franchise mark back in 1983 with 13. Dunlap also passed Edwards as the franchise's all-time leader in sacks at 49. Coy Bacon's single-season mark of 22 sacks is actually the record, but came before sacks were an officially tracked NFL stat.
The good times hopefully won't be ending soon for Dunlap, who turns 27 in February and is still under contract with the Bengals through the 2018 season, meaning there should be plenty more sacks to come during his career in Cincinnati.
As for career franchise marks, Dunlap is poised to finish his pro career as the Bengals' all-time sacks leader, but he's only six sacks ahead of Geno Atkins for the lead. Given that Atkins is also young (27) and under contract through 2018, it will be an interesting battle to watch between those two as they'll likely finish as the No. 1 and 2 all-time franchise leaders in sacks.
Speaking of, as long as those two are healthy and playing for the Bengals, this defense will be a force to be reckoned with. Dunlap has become a premier pass-rusher in a league where having premier pass rushers is a must to win a Super Bowl.
There's no reason to think Dunlap will stop playing at a high-level next year. At his age, with his increase in production every season and the fact that he's played in every game for three-straight seasons, the future looks bright for Dunlap. At the rate he's going, with another big season in 2016 he may be in line for a big payday down the road.
Either way, he'll be terrorizing quarterbacks in Bengals stripes for the foreseeable future.