The Cincinnati Bengals need Carlos Dunlap now more than ever

Just one week after demoting Carlos Dunlap, the Cincinnati Bengals will need him to step back up into the starting lineup.

Cincinnati Bengals
Indianapolis Colts
Sunday, Oct 18
Fox Sports
IND -7.5

Leading up to the week five contest against the Baltimore Ravens, longtime Cincinnati Bengals cornerstone Carlos Dunlap drew headlines for voicing his frustrations in a press conference. Head coach Zac Taylor and defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo had opted to bench the 11-year veteran in favor of the surging Carl Lawson, clearly a frustrating development for the former Florida Gator.

Dunlap referred to the situation as “madness” but changed his tone later, stating on social media that he would go even harder after the demotion.

When game day came, he indeed saw his role significantly reduced and was limited to just 46% of the club’s defensive snaps. However, just one week removed from the downtick in playing time, the Bengals will need Employee 96 now more than ever.

Carlos Dunlap can stabilize a struggling unit

What was once thought to be the strength of the team heading into the 2020 campaign, the defensive line has been disappointing thus far. Part of that has to do with underwhelming play from guys like Dunlap and a portion of it can be attributed to the countless injuries the unit has suffered.

D.J. Reader is done for the year, Mike Daniels is on IR, Geno Atkins has only been able to go for a single game, and now, Sam Hubbard will be out for an undisclosed stretch. If there was ever a time the Bengals needed vintage Carlos Dunlap, it’s now.

Outside of a poor outing against the Cleveland Browns, the defense as a whole has been playing pretty well. Unfortunately, however, they’ve lacked a clear number one pass rusher and they haven’t been able to provide the support rookie quarterback Joe Burrow needs.

It’s clear that the offensive line isn’t capable of easing the pressure off Cincinnati’s young signal-caller, but there’s still hope that the defense, led by Carlos Dunlap, can.

Over the course of Dunlap’s career in stripes, he’s racked up 82.5 sacks and forced a whopping 20 fumbles. If he can find his old footing to generate some game-altering plays, it could put the offense in scoring position and ignite that side of the ball.

Sitting at 1-3-1 without many other options to turn to, the Bengals need Dunlap to step up and be the impact player they’re paying him nearly $11M to be. As the team gears up to take on the Indianapolis Colts this weekend, he’ll get another opportunity to prove he can be that guy.

Next: Bengals’ defense must take advantage of a fading Philip Rivers