No Go for Geno

Dunlap will be sure to take over the work with Geno's injury

Dunlap will be sure to take over the work with Geno's injury

In the Week nine OT loss against the Miami Dolphins, the Bengals lost something maybe more important than the game: Pro Bowl DT Geno Atkins suffered a torn ACL and was declared out for the year. Questions have been raised concerning how the team will replace the ferocity Atkins brought to every game and how they will finish as a result.

In the recent Week ten heartbreaking loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the defense looked unaffected by the injury, holding the Ravens to only 189 total yards of offense and Joe Flacco, the reigning Super Bowl champ and highest paid quarterback, to just 140 yards and two touchdowns, along with a pair of interceptions.

Our last game before the BYE was our Week eleven win against the Cleveland Browns, a game where the defense gave up two field goals and a 74-yeard touchdown, and picked off quarterback Jason Campbell three times.

The defense has clearly shown these past few games that Atkins wasn’t the only one making a huge impact on the other side of the ball. Guys like Domata Peko, Wallace Gilberry and Michael Johnson have really stepped up their game on the line of scrimmage in Atkins’ absence.

But the one guy that has probably had the biggest influence on the D line has got to be DE Carlos Dunlap. With a total of seven sacks, three of which have come in the two games Atkins has been out. He also has forced four fumbles on the year. Dunlap has been the man on the D line in 2013 and will continue to carry out the job Atkins left for him.

In my opinion, I wish it would have been Dalton instead of Atkins. But since it wasn’t, I think that the team will be fine without him. The Bengals D is constantly ranked near the top in the league, and Atkins isn’t the only component on the defense opposing teams should be scared of. While it’s true that Atkins was the main threat and other teams will be taking a huge breather with him on the sidelines, guys like Dunlap, Peko, Gilberry, and Johnson will give them another thing coming.

To get more opinions on Atkins’ injury, I dug out my old #85 jersey, stitched EIFERT over JOHNSON, and headed out to get some interviews from those in orange and black.

Senior wrestler Nathan McClanahan, was optimistic about the Bengals’ chances this year,

“I think it is a huge loss for them, but they drafted Devon Still and Brandon Thompson last year for a reason. I think they will still play well without him, because the past two weeks Thompson has really stepped up,” McClanahan said. “The defense will miss its best pass rusher and one of the best defensive tackles in the league, but Mike Zimmer will find a way to get his defense to play well, he always does. I think the Bengals defense will finish as a top five unit, and I think they will help the Bengals make a run.”

My awesome brother-in-law, Andrew Curtis, class of ’05, was also optimistic that the defense would be able to recover,

“I think their defense will bounce back. Obviously it would be better if Geno was in there but it’s a next-man-up kind of league,” Curtis said. “This past week’s game, our defense won us the game. I think they will be ok.”

I think they will win the division, and I hope they don’t choke and win at least one playoff game because I’m tired of getting excited for the playoffs and then get let down in Game one.”

I was barely able to get one more in before kick off from junior Chris Moore, a fellow die hard Bengal fan, who gave me a short and sweet summary of his opinion,

“I think they will do fine, like I think they will be in the game today.  They always go great on D with Pacman Jones and James Harrison.”

With Chris’ prediction coming true, and everyone else generally agreeing on the same thing, the conclusion is that we will be fine without Atkins at the line of scrimmage, playoffs or not. Guys like Dunlap and Gilberry that are often overshadowed by Atkins’ dominance now have their shot to prove that they deserve to take over the helm of the D line.

And hopefully, maybe it will be Dalton next time, so that Mohammed “Wildcat” Sanu can take over and throw just throw it deep every time.