5. Carlos Dunlap – After starting just two games in his first three seasons, Dunlap stepped up big time in 2013. With the absence of Geno Atkins for a chunk of the season, the Cincinnati Bengals needed Carlos dunlap to have a big year. And that he did. The 6’6 defensive end out of Florida racked up 58 total tackles, 7.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles. Dunlap was right in the middle of that strong Cincinnati front seven.
4. Giovani Bernard – In his first season as a Bengal, the rookie from North Carolina was a beast. Bernard was a true all-purpose running back for Cincinnati. Whether it was a draw, a screen, a flare, or even a power run; Gio made something happen. Whenever the Bengals needed a first down, Giovani Bernard was the answer. Bernard’s 1209 total yards of offense was huge for a guy coming off the bench. Anytime this guy was on the field, you could expect him to make a big play for Cincinnati. His 53 total firstdowns gives you more than a good idea of what type of impact the young back made.
3. Andy Dalton – Despite the critical mistakes and misfires, that might have kept Andy Dalton from being higher on the list; Realistically the third year quarterback out of TCU made a lot of noise this past season. At times defenses couldn’t find any way to stop Dalton and the Bengals’ passing attack. Dalton’s 88.8 QB rating was the best of his young career. His 33 passing touchdowns are not only his career best, but it is now the Franchise Record. Andy Dalton also threw for 4,293 yards on a 62% completion rate. Dalton also had 20 interceptions, something he will need to address this off-season. But good or bad, the quarterback’s impact is undeniable.
2. AJ Green – 98 was the number of catches the Georgia wide receiver pulled down in 2013. 11 of those catches went for touchdowns. Green was a man among boys this season. Defenses were forced to double team him, and try to take him out of plays. Even then it was still nearly impossible to stop AJ. No matter who he faced, it seemed he was determined to show them that they could not stop him. Green’s 1,426 yards gives him the best season of his young career.
1. Vontaze Burfict – Brurfict, without question, was Cincy’s biggest factor in 2013. The linebacker’s impact was very evident. Not only did the Los Angeles native lead the NFL in total tackles, with 171, he was the anchor of a defensive ship that would not budge. No matter the opponent, Vontaze Burfict approached each game with the same attitude. And that is, do what you have to in orde to win. Burfict instilled that same attitude in his teammates, and it was clear they rallied around him. Vontaze was the Bengal’s most impactful player in 2013. Both on and off the field. He was a defensive quarterback.