Defensive tackle Geno Atkins led the Cincinnati Bengals in sacks last season. His nine total takedowns were the third-highest mark of his career, but he received a backhand from the NFL’s list of Top 100 players in 2017.
Atkins landed at no. 68 on the list, a whopping 39 spots lower than when he was ranked the 29th best player in football last year. Despite the praise from many players around the league, Atkins fell victim to the Bengals’ first losing season since 2010, overall lowering his rank despite tallying the most sacks among all defensive tackles in the league.
The Bengals are hoping to get Atkins and fellow Pro-Bowler Carlos Dunlap some help on the defensive line. Andrew Billings, a 311-pound monster in the middle, missed his entire rookie campaign but now has a chance to slide next to Atkins up front after Domata Peko‘s suddenly-suspect departure from the Queen City.
The same list might be even worse for Andy Dalton. The Red Rifle was ranked 35th in 2016 after leading Cincinnati to an 8-0 start and a division title. A hand injury derailed his possible run to an MVP year, but his improvement was evident.
In 2016, though, Dalton’s numbers drastically declined. He lost Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu to free agency, Jeremy Hill continued to struggle, and Tyler Eifert, A.J. Green, and Giovani Bernard all landed on season-ending IR.
From the outside eye, it would appear Dalton regressed last season. He threw a career-low 18 touchdowns and Cincinnati’s offense finished 24th in scoring. However, Dalton was able to notch his second 4,000-yard season, working with a limited cast that included Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd, and Cody Core, all first-year Bengals.
Five quarterbacks have already been named to the list. It doesn’t seem likely Dalton will surpass someone like Kirk Cousins (no. 70), who threw for nearly 5,000 yards in 2016 and 25 touchdowns. Numbers 41 through 50 will be released later this week.