Carl Lawson quickly made his presence felt in 2017 with a 2.5-sack game against the Packers. If it wasn’t for a photo-finish-close 12 man on the field penalty, he would’ve had 3.5.
That also would’ve meant that he would’ve tied for Carlos Dunlap’s rookie record of 9.5 sacks on the season. It was something Lawson fell one short of doing after accumulating 8.5 sacks as a pass-rushing specialist last season.
Dunlap talked about his overall plan for the rest of his career when he rejoined the team during mandatory minicamp this week. His goals were clear. He wanted to beat Coy Bacon’s unofficial record of 22 sacks in a season for a Bengal (sacks weren’t officially recorded until the 1982 season), and Eddie Edwards’ all-time sack record for the Bengals of 83.5.
Dunlap is currently sitting at 64.5 sacks, so he is right on track for that all-time mark. Lawson wants to make sure Dunlap knows that any record he sets will be temporary though.
“Tell him he’s got no time for that. Unless I go somewhere else,” Lawson told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “If I stay here the whole time, tell Carlos I’ll beat him. He wanted the rookie sack record. Hey, like I’m cool with that. But the all-time … If I stay here long enough that’s not happening. Look, I plan on having in my career at the very least 120 (sacks). That’s my plan. If I stay healthy.”
That is obviously a pretty lofty goal. Although they always says to shoot for the moon. If Lawson reached his 120-sack goal he would be ranked 22nd all-time in sacks.
To put that in perspective that is only 5.5 less sacks than Terrell Suggs and Dwight Freeney have.
It would obviously be great for the Bengals for Lawson to reach these numbers. It would mean that not only did he stay with the Bengals a vast majority of his career, but that he also stayed healthy and productive.
Although, it seems like his role in the upcoming season could mess with his plan. When the Bengals drafted Lawson they listed him at linebacker. They had a hard time getting him out of the pass-rushing role his rookie year though considering how productive he was. This year, the Bengals are looking to use him more as a linebacker. That could mean a few different things.
He will be on the field more for sure, but where he is at on the field will be crucial. Will he be lined up five or seven yards back from the line of scrimmage, or will he be lined up closer to the line? Will the Bengals still line him up at defensive end?
These are questions that really may not be answered until the season. The one answer we have is the Bengals would be fools to put Lawson in a role that doesn’t rush the passer as often as possible.
There is no telling how high Dunlap will set the mark for the Bengals’ all-time career sack record, but it is clear that Lawson has the kind of confidence that will make it possible for him to catch up with the veteran one day.