The Cincinnati Bengals boast a fearsome front seven. A year ago, Cincinnati’s featured linemen, defensive end Carlos Dunlap and defensive tackle Geno Atkins, finished fourth and eighth, respectively, atop the NFL’s sack leaders. Dunlap took opposing quarterbacks to the turf 13.5 times a year ago, while Atkins brought down quarterbacks 11.0 times of his own.
This season, Dunlap ranks 11th in the NFL with 4.o sacks, defensive end Will Clarke is 23rd with 3.0 and Atkins stands at 37th with 2.5.
The Bengals pass rush has a lot of success making plays out of their Double-A Gap blitz. In this blitz package, two linebackers move aggressively into the A gaps as the offense reaches the line of scrimmage, essentially staring eye-to-eye with the opposing the quarterback.
Ahead of Cincinnati’s Sunday trip to New England, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said the Bengals’ blitz package is very similar to his team’s own defensive scheme.
“They give you all the looks with it. They get up there and come, they get up there and bring one guy, they get up there and don’t bring anybody, they get up there and bring guys from the edge and force you to commit your protection inside to them and then guys come from the outside-in,” Belichick told reporters on Friday.
“We do a decent amount of it, too. I can’t imagine that — you know, we’ve practiced against our defense going back to the spring so we’ve seen probably as much of it as they’ve seen it from themselves. Still have to block it, they still have a good package off it, they do just a good job disguising it, but we’ve worked on it.
“We just have to do a good job with, depending on what play protection we have called, do the job of executing. The hard part is: They’re up there, the might be coming they might not be coming. They’re good blitzers: (Vontaze) Burfect, Ray Maualuga, Vincent Ray, those guys are all — (Karlos) Dansby — they’re all, they can get pressure, get good matchups and run games and stuff like that out there.”
Fortunately for quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots rank 12th this season in quarterback hits allowed.