Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins has played 136 snaps this season, averaging 45 plays per game and 63.6 percent of the defense's total snaps. In his most recent game against the Tennessee Titans, Atkins played 59 percent of the team's defensive snaps, a seven percent drop from Cincinnati's week two game against the Falcons... However, Cincinnati's win over the Titans was decided early, so taking Atkins out was a feasible resolution.
Despite all of those snaps being played, Atkins has recorded four tackles, one quarterback hit and six quarterback hurries. Save for the goose egg on the quarterback sack statistic, these are numbers that Atkins submitted in a game, much less three games into a season.
Recovering from an ACL tear takes time. Some (aka, me) offered predictions that Atkins wouldn't be back to his old form until next season.
Maybe Sunday Night's game against the New England Patriots will be his breakout game this season.
Why? We're approaching the one-year anniversary since Atkins suffered his knee injury and the Bengals are playing a team with an offensive line that's struggling, Andy Benoit with Sports Illustrated writes:
The offense, on the other hand, is grossly out of sync. It starts with the front five. The Patriots made personnel changes at all five O-line positions throughout Monday night. Most of them—like benching left tackle Nate Solder—won’t stick. But it takes horrendous play to inspire such drastic in-game adjustments. You could argue that every Patriots offensive lineman is having his worst season as a pro. The headliner, Solder, certainly is.
New England's offensive line has allowed 10 quarterback sacks, 11 quarterback hurries and 38 hits on Brady. Football Outsiders ranks them as the league's 19th-best pass protection group.
This leads to our initial prediction.
Bengals DT Geno Atkins will record his first sack of the season.
Along with dropping Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in Cincinnati's most-recent meeting, Atkins hasn't gone four consecutive games without a quarterback sack (or at least a shared sack) since a stretch between week five and week nine during his rookie season in 2010.
Cincinnati has one of the best defenses in the NFL. Just imagine what it could be like when Atkins returns to his old form.