Perhaps you read over the weekend that the website ProFootballFocus.com has Andrew Whitworth rated as the top left tackle in the AFC.
Would it surprise you to hear that another member of the Cincinnati Bengals is rated number one at his position?
Sam Monson, an analyst for ProFootballFocus.com, joined Dave Lapham and me on “Bengals Gameplan” this Wednesday night on Fox Sports 1360, and said that Carlos Dunlap is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season to date.
“He only has one sack, but in terms of pressures and hits, he’s getting to the quarterback with the same kind of frequency as Trent Cole,” said Monson. “Dunlap has 23 pressures (19 according to Bengals stats) and nine knockdowns of the quarterback. He’s applying pressure on one out of every five attempts at rushing the passer which is a ridiculous level. I mean, Dwight Freeney in his best seasons applies pressure one out of every six snaps. We’re talking a crazy level – he’s actually at the moment our top-ranked 4-3 defensive end.”
I passed that lofty ranking along to Dunlap.
“That’s an amazing acknowledgement, but it’s still half-way through the season,” Carlos told me. “I want to hear that at the end of the season.”
The staff at ProFootballFocus.com watches every NFL game on a play-by-play basis and grades every player on every snap. Dunlap has posted a positive grade in all seven games, and had the best game of his career last Sunday according to the website with seven QB pressures, three QB hits, and one sack in 58 snaps.
“I feel like that game and the Jets game from last year were probably about the same,” said Dunlap. “I felt like this one was right up there, but I might give the Jets game an edge because that was my first two-sack game.”
Dunlap’s fourth quarter sack of Seattle’s Tarvaris Jackson last week was his first of the season, and while he’s determined to add to his sack total, his primary goal is to continue applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
“That’s just as good,” said Dunlap. “It’s one of those stats that don’t show up on paper, but it’s as important as getting the sack itself. If you can consistently give pressure, that’s better than getting a sack every now and then.”
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You might have also read this recent story in the Orlando Sentinel that makes the case that the Miami Dolphins or Jacksonville Jaguars should hire Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to be their new head coach.
I asked Jay for his reaction to the article.
“I’ve told people this and they probably think that I’m lying, but I’ve never really looked beyond where I’m at right now,” Coach Gruden said. “I’m happy where I am and my only focus is to put these guys into position to make plays. Whatever happens 5, 6, 10 years down the road happens, and there’s no way that I’m ready to be a head coach right now. He’s been an Orlando writer for a long time and it was a nice article, but it’s very, very far-fetched.
“This is a fun group to coach and I’m not looking to go anywhere else. It’s not very often that you get a guy to work with like Andy Dalton and a receiver to work with like A.J. Green. We have a good, young offensive line that’s playing pretty well together and the sky is the limit for this team. Down the road – maybe – but right now, I’m definitely looking forward to watching these guys grow up as players and as men.”
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I hope you’ll join Artrell Hawkins and me for “Bengals Pep Rally” on Friday from 3-6 at the Firehouse Grill in Blue Ash. If you can’t join us in person, you can listen to the show on ESPN 1530.
I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@bengals.nfl.net
If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard
And I’m on Facebook. Just search for Dan Hoard and look for the photo of me with the handsome lad.
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