Geno Atkins is the key player on the Cincinnati Bengals that the New England Patriots must try to contain. Can they stop him? Well, no team has been able to so far. Atkins is a two time Pro-Bowler and has morphed into one of the most feared defensive linemen in the NFL. During Wednesday's weekly press conference, Bill Belichick compared Atkins to one of the greatest defensive lineman of the 1990s.
When asked who Atkins compares to historically, Belichick said, "a John Randle type, but I'd say more powerful." Well, that's a hefty compliment. Randle was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after accumulating 137.5 sacks and 408 total tackles over 14 unbelievable seasons.
On Atkins, Belichick said, "This guy's got some power rushes where he just takes linemen back, those guards back; it just looks like they're on roller skates. He just walks them, literally, right back into the quarterback."
Offensive linemen on roller skates? Yeah, that's not a sight the Patriots want to see on Sunday. Logan Mankins, an All-Pro himself, will have a hard time blocking Atkins one-on-one, never mind his fellow interior lineman, Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly, who both are not nearly as talented as Mankins.
The Patriots will have to consistently double-team Geno Atkins in order to contain him -- especially when he is lined up on Connolly's side -- but even that won't be easy. Atkins has made a habit of getting right into a quarterback's grill by any means possible.
"He's very quick, he can get the edge and work up-and-under on the guards, then when they try to set deep and take those moves away from him, then he can turn those into power moves and collapse the pocket," Belichick explained.
Then coach Bill Belichick paused, looked down, and shook his head, as he concernedly said, "He can ruin a game. There's no question the guy can ruin a game by himself."
Judging from the tone of Belichick's voice and his facial expressions, he obviously he has stressed the importance of containing Geno Atkins to his players and coaches in meetings. He knows that Atkins is unstoppable, but it is important that he isn't the sole reason for potential issues on Sunday.
"Every play you can't get away from him either. There aren't many plays you can run where you can say, ‘We don't really have to block the three-technique.' You have to block him and he's a factor in the running game, he's a factor in the passing game. You try to throw screens and stuff like that, he's quick and fast, he'll run those plays down." Belichick then closed with the obvious: "The guy is a really good player."
Geno Atkins, a fourth round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, would've "probably been the first pick in the draft," according to Bill Belichick, if a re-draft took place today. But with the draft in the rear-view mirror, the New England Patriots must find a way to contain the ferocious Geno Atkins, as they look to go 5-0 on the season. If they can't successfully do that, Atkins might spend a lot of time tossing Tom Brady to the turf.