Updates will be provided here in The Bird Cage as they become available.
The Bird Cage will be starting a 2010 Training Camp Battle Series that will run through the Grand Finale of Camp. The Battles will examine the situation and position, as well as the players up for the job. Check out the arguments and choose who you think will win.
First up is one of the more intriguing battles in trying to figure out who will be the main man lining up at the open defensive end spot opposite John Abraham: Kroy Biermann or Lawrence Sidbury Jr.?
The Falcons ranked as one of the worst in the NFL in terms of getting pressure on the quarterbacks last season, and the entire defense paid for it. Most QBs were allowed to pick them apart when they got hot, players ranging from the predictable Drew Brees and Tom Brady to the heavily struggling Jake Delhomme. The Falcons ranked 26th in terms of sacks and 28th in pass coverage which seems like a pretty appropriate correlation. Abraham had 5.5 sacks, but many believe that it’s a possible product of having no help on the other side. Biermann had 5 sacks, but 2 of those came against Miami in the opening game. Lawrence Sidbury Jr. only had 1 sack, but also didn’t see much time. The bottom line is that the Falcons just didn’t get it done in terms pressure. It really says something when your leading sack artist is your defensive tackle. Jonathan Babineaux had a Pro Bowl worthy year, but he should be getting a ton more help from the defensive ends. It’s almost a certainty that there will be some rotation, but if one of them can prove they deserve the job permanently, can Coach Smith keep them off the field?
The Bier Truck looks to have the inside edge in taking the starting spot, although a heavy rotation looks pretty imminent. He is one of the hardest workers on the team and has been committed to improving his physical skill set since he was drafted in the fifth round out of the University of Montana. He came in at 241 lbs and some thought he would play linebacker. Not the case after he put on almost 20 lbs. His career track looks pretty good after posting 2 sacks in very limited action as a rookie and posting 5 sacks last year with not even 500 snaps. He committed to mixed martial arts training, known as MMA, to help take him over the top. Hard to believe that Biermann won’t take the job.
On the other side, some claim that #71 hit the wall last year and that he might be a pass rushing specialist only and not necessarily an every down defensive end. He notched five sacks last year in limited time, but 40% of those came in the first game, and another came in the blowout against San Francisco. If he was and is the future, why didn’t he get a ton more snaps last year?
Sidbury is the great unknown to this point and extremely talented, but obviously raw. He was one of the most athletic players when he was drafted in the 4th round in the 2009 NFL draft. The pick was roundly praised as a huge steal by Thomas Dimitroff. Not too much was expected as a rookie behind Abraham, Jamaal Anderson, Kroy Biermann, and even steady backup Chauncey Davis. He didn’t get on the field too much, but when he did he made it count, coming up with a sack and a fumble return for a touchdown later in the season. The question is whether Sidbury Jr. can click in his sophomore year, or just hope to get a few more steps. He will have to really wow the coaches to surpass Kroy Biermann, but if anybody can do it, the ultra-talented Sidbury Jr. can.
Conversely, its going to be a huge climb for Sidbury Jr. to prove he merits a chance to surpass all the other D-Ends, and as the coaching staff showed with Biermann, they seemingly like to bring along their defensive ends very slowly, so its doubtful that #90 can do anything more than gain more snaps.
A huge question, and a maddening one to fans, is how many snaps will Jamaal Anderson poach from the young guns. Coach Smith loves his rotation on D-Line and he’s even stated that Anderson will continue to work on the outside. Chauncey Davis has also proven to be a very steady and versatile backup when he plays. The question is whether this rotation is and will stunt Biermann and Sidbury Jr.’s growth?
Both Biermann and Sidbury Jr. have a ton of talent and look to be on a high arc for the future, with some believing that they both might eventually take over as starters. Due to Coach Smith’s headstrong belief of a heavy rotation, it looks that both will see more snaps with Biermann getting more and Sidbury Jr. getting more as well, but expect Jamaal Anderson to continue to take snaps away from them both.
-Straight out: who will win the defensive end starting spot?
-Who’s more likely to get the most snaps at DE?
-Is it Biermann’s time to make the jump?
-Can Sidbury Jr. blow past Biermann to take it?
-Will Jamaal Anderson take snaps away at DE? Should he?
-What’s your thoughts on Coach Smith’s rotation philosophy?