In this week’s edition of Earning their Stripes, we’re giving the award to a future All-Pro in defensive-tackle Geno Atkins notched 2 sacks and 2 tackles-for-loss as he was a big reason the Bengals d-line held All-Pro runningback Maurice Jones-Drew to just 38 yards on 13 carries (2.9 yards per attempt).
When he wasn’t picking up sacks, he was constantly in the face of quarterback Blaine Gabbert, picking up six QB hurries and a QB hit. His immense pressure on Gabbert prevented him from ever taking advantage of the battered Bengals secondary that was down 3 of it’s top-5 corners.
Atkins has already notched five sacks in 2012, just 2.5 shy of his 2011 mark of 7.5 and is currently on pace to get 20 sacks this season, which would be an NFL-record for a defensive tackle. As Pro Football Focus noted on his performance vs. Jacksonville, he was the most dominant player on a Bengals defense that held , and the Jaguars as a whole to just 69 rushing yards, 212 total yards, and a mere 10 points.
PFF also just named Atkins to their Team of the Week for his dominant performance:
You won’t find many more dominant defensive tackle performances than the one Atkins produced. The two sacks, one hit and six hurries tells it all.
Its safe to say that barring injury, Atkins will be selected to play in Hawaii for the 2013 Pro Bowl, and don’t be surprised to not only see him an a number of All-Pro teams, but receiving consideration for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.