It’s been a rough start for the 2020 Bengals, who are not only 1-5-1 after seven weeks, but they’ve also watched a former franchise cornerstone become a massive distraction.
Carlos Dunlap, the franchise leader in all-time sacks (82.5), has been doing everything he can in recent weeks to force his way out of Cincinnati after being demoted to a role player. While it’s understandable he’s frustrated, the way he’s expressed it to reporters, on the sideline, and on social media is rubbing everyone the wrong way, including his own teammates.
In fact, Dunlap has a teammate in a very similar situation who’s taken a much different approach with voicing his frustrations. Geno Atkins, who will go down as one of the best defenders in Bengals history and should get Hall of Fame consideration, has also gone from being one of the franchise’s most important players to being a role player who is no longer starting.
But instead of venting his frustrations in a manner for the whole world to see, we’ve barely heard a peep out of Atkins, even though there was a report he was upset with his role reduced role behind the scenes.
Of course, we’ve rarely ever heard from him during his NFL career, as he’s typically one of the quietest players on the roster and rarely speaks to reporters.
It shouldn’t be a surprise at all to see Atkins, at least publicly, is handling his demotion like a professional, and his coaches clearly appreciate it.
Zac Taylor on Geno Atkins' snap count: "I know that's what he feels comfortable with right now... Geno and I have had some good conversations, he's a class act."— Rebecca Toback (@Rebecca_Toback) October 26, 2020
Lou Anarumo echoes Zac Taylor's sentiment that communication with DT Geno Atkins has been great. Lou: "He is on the same page with us in terms of his playing time."— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) October 26, 2020
It’s unlikely Dunlap will be around much longer in Cincinnati. Hopefully, Atkins continues to be a leader this defense clearly needs, even if it’s from the bench, and helps this franchise get back to brighter days.