Defensive tackle Geno Atkins continues to remain one of the most underrated players in the NFL, but that won’t last much longer if he can keep playing at the All-Pro level he’s played at in the Bengals’ first four games. He’s already accounted for 5 sacks, just 2.5 shy of his 2011 mark of 7.5 and is currently on pace to get 20 sacks this season. Though he’ll likely begin seeing many more double-teams to prevent him from reaching that feat, Atkins has dominated whoever has been unfortunate to line up in front of him, and as Pro Football Focus noted on his performance vs. Jacksonville, he was the most dominant player on a Bengals defense that held All-Pro back Maurice Jones-Drew to 38 yards on 13 carries (2.9 yards per attempt), and the Jaguars as a whole to just 69 rushing yards, 212 total yards, and a mere 10 points:
Last season’s breakout performer at defensive tackle has steadily grown into the 2012 season, but this week Geno Atkins announced his presence with a simply stunning display (+9.7) in Jacksonville. Atkins was afforded favorable matchups and he didn’t just take advantage of them, he exploited them to the absolute maximum. He was so dominant, in fact, that he forced the Jaguars to bench their returning start at left guard, Eben Britton after only 33 snaps. Accounting for five (1Ht, 4 Hu) of the eight pressures (2 Sk, 1 Ht, 5 Hu) that Britton yielded in only 22 pass blocks, Atkins was able to get to the inside of Britton far too easily. He didn’t go easy on Britton’s replacement either, and highlighted a weakness against the bullrush that Mike Brewster must work on if he isn’t to be a liability in the Jacksonville offensive line. All three of the pressures (2 Sk, 1 Hu) that Atkins recorded against Brewster came courtesy of the bullrush, as the undrafted rookie from Ohio State simply couldn’t cope with Atkins’ raw physicality. This is the highest individual game grade of Atkins’ career and should guarantee him a spot in our Team of the Week.
Atkins has been by-far the MVP of the defense thus far, and should be regarded as one of, if not the best pass-rushing defensive tackle in the NFL by season’s end. Of course, Bengals fancs already knew he was this good. Now its time for the rest of the world to know as well just who Geno Atkins is.