When he first arrived in Cincinnati after being drafted in 2010, Carlos Dunlap wanted to know two things: who had the Bengals' single-season sack record, and how many sacks did that man have?
Early last season, Dunlap mentioned that getting double digit sacks had always been a goal of his. In his 2015 campaign, he accomplished both goals by breaking Eddie Edwards' 1983 franchise record of 13 sacks, finishing with 13.5 That number gave Dunlap 49 sacks for his career, a team record as well.
Breaking sack records is Carlos Dunlap's raison d'être. Dunlap has said breaking Michael Strahan's single-season mark (22.5) is what pushes him everyday. And we all know that when he sets his eye on a sack record, he takes it down, like he does Ben Roethlisberger.
Of course, to get to 23, Dunlap will need to improve his total from last year by 9.5 sacks. But improvement is nothing new for him. After a sophomore slump, Dunlap has improved every year the last four seasons. Still, he may just be underrated.
While Pro Football Focus didn't include him in their list of the top 101 players, Dunlap had more sacks than 12 of the defensive ends who did make the list. Meanwhile, in the NFL Network's list of the top 100 players, a list voted on by the players, Dunlap was ranked 70th overall . He has since Tweeted that it will motivate him to move up in ranking.
So let's look at this for a second: a highly-motivated player who continues to improve, on the same defensive line as the beastly Geno Atkins, and he's being ignored by "analysts" and "experts." I'd say 23 sacks has a good chance of happening, Who Dey nation.
For more reasons why Dunlap can become the new sack champ, watch the following video, in which John Sheeran demonstrates how Dunlap uses his combination of technique and brute strength to dominate the opposition:
In the video, John examines Dunlap's sack from the playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
1. According to John, Dunlap's edge speed and ability to bend his body forced Steelers tackle Marcus Gilbert to step outside and overstep his kickslide.
2. Dunlap then makes a spin move and uses Gilbert's momentum against him, moving into a big open space between the right tackle and David DeCastro, the right guard.
3. DeCastro tries to help out, but he and Gilbert are manhandled by the powerful Dunlap.
4. Dunlap's penetration allows defensive tackle Pat Sims to work his way outside and get to the quarterback first, though Dunlap was credited with a half sack as well.
If healthy, Dunlap will easily top his sack total from last year, and will make a run at the official NFL record. Of course, that might not technically be a Bengals record, as Coy Bacon may have had 26 sacks in 1976. However, since the league didn't count sacks as an official stat until 1982, Bacon's accomplishments have largely been ignored, much like Dunlap's. But all that could change next year if Dunlap wins back the record for Cincinnati.