Looks like I've broken my own new rule.
It's time to make amends and do better.
Last Friday, I had a post about a new staple blog I was hoping to publish each weekday as we start counting down the days between now and the start of the regular season. The purpose of the daily entry was to look at one unique stat involving the Cincinnati Bengals. Friday's factoid broke down the team's No. 3 ranking in running the ball both behind left guard and center last season. That's the only daily factoid we've had so far. Not to worry, though, we're resuming this new tradition starting ... now.
Wednesday's Bengals factoid: 5
Cincinnati's defense had two five-game streaks last season in which it recorded at least 2.0 sacks in a game. The unit accomplished that feat from Weeks 2 through 6, as well as Weeks 8 through 13. Twice during those streaks they had 5.0 sacks as a team. The first came in the 27-24 overtime win at Buffalo, and the second came in the 20-17 overtime loss at Baltimore.
It's rather interesting that the Bengals were so efficient at collecting sacks at particular times last season because their overall sack total was lower than what was anticipated in the preseason. One year after ranking third in the league in sacks, they ranked 10th in 2013, recording 43. They had 51 the season before.
An argument could be made that the mid-season loss of defensive tackle Geno Atkins to an ACL injury seriously affected the Bengals' pass rush across the latter half of the year. On the heels of Atkins' 12.5-sack 2012 season, one could argue the Bengals lost several sacks down the stretch last season due to his absence.
But looking at the Bengals' sack total from before Atkins' injury to what they had without him after it, it's not too clear his presence would have had much of an impact. The Bengals had 22 total sacks before Atkins' season-ending injury at Miami in Week 9. They had 21 more in the eight games that followed, including the Week 9 game that he began.
Sure, a case could be made that after fighting through all the double-teams he was receiving in the first half of the season, Atkins might have figured out ways to better break past the blocking schemes that had been designed primarily to stop him. If he had, perhaps he would have surpassed his 2012 sack total. We'll never know. What we do know is that even if his sack totals didn't dramatically increase in the latter portion of the season, at the very least, Atkins' presence would have made Cincinnati's pass rush better, helping the Bengals to potentially create other play disruptions.
After their second five-game streak ended, the Bengals finished the regular season on a three-game streak of recording at least 1.0 sack per game. They had one sack against the Steelers in Week 15, as many as four against the Vikings in Week 16, and two against the Ravens at home in Week 17.