New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was a fan of Chad Johnson, enjoying the bantering and how athletically gifted the Bengals all-time receiver was. Well, until Johnson played for him. Now Johnson, out of the NFL, is doing something for CBSSports.com and Belichick has identified his next favorite Bengals player.
"Geno Atkins is probably as dynamic a player at that position as we’ve seen in the league in quite awhile," Belichick said on a conference call with the New England media.
Yep, Geno Atkins.
Now it doesn't take a Eureka resident to understand why. Most coaches would love to have a dynamic player like Atkins, who is as unassuming and humble as any player on this team. Belichick mentioned Atkins in his opening statement on Wednesday and was asked to compare him to another player.
"Like a John Randle type, but I’d say more powerful. This guy has some power rushes where he just takes linemen back, those guards back and it just looks like they’re on roller skates," said Belichick. "He just walks them, literally, right back into the quarterback. He’s very quick. He can get the edge and work up or up-and-under on the guards. Then when they try to set deep or take those quick moves away from him, he can turn those into power moves and collapse the pocket. He can ruin a game, there’s no question the guy can ruin a game by myself. Every play, you can’t get away from him either. There aren’t many plays you can run where you can say, ‘We don’t really have to block the three-technique.’
"You have to block him and he’s a factor in the running game, he’s a factor in the passing game," said Belichick. "You try to throw screens and stuff like that, he’s quick and fast, he’ll run those plays down. The guy is a really good player. Obviously their ends are good too: [Carlos] Dunlap, [Michael] Johnson, [Wallace] Gilberry, they’re very disruptive; [Domata] Peko is a big guy inside that’s a powerful guy, good run player and a power pass rusher. They have a lot of good players on the front, the young kids in there, [Devon] Still. They have good depth but he’s a very dynamic player."
After posting a career-high 12.5 quarterback sacks and four forced fumbles last season, Atkins has had a slow start to the season -- by his standards. He's still on pace for 10 quarterback sacks, but his tackles are down with only four stops in four games this season.