Will Atlanta Falcons Finally Produce a Pass Rush?

Hopeful, but Seeing is Believing

Can Nolan Finally Fix the Rush? (AJC)

If you were describing a weakness of the Atlanta Falcons the last five years to a person that had been living off the grid, it’s almost a guaranteed certainty that lack of pass rush would be first and foremost on that list. It’s been abysmal, terrible, awful, and any other negative adjective you’d like to insert. The Falcons pass rush has consisted of two players the past five years: DE John Abraham and DT Jonathan Babineaux. It’s fairly shameful that not one player has had no more success than they have over a five year period. While it’s unfair to go only by sacks as an indicator, it’s one of the few easily seen proofs that fans have when trying to gauge pass rush. Coaches will talk all the time about “disrupting a passer’s rhythm, getting him off his spot, or QB hits,” but that only comes up when they’re trying to justify something. Here’s a list of the Falcons sack rankings the last 5 years, and in relation, their rank vs. the pass:

Year — Sack Rank (Sacks) — Pass Defense Rank

2008 — 11th (34) — 21st

2009 — 26th (28) — 28th

2010 — 20th (31) — 22nd

2011 — 19th (33) — 20th

2012 — 28th (29) — 23rd

Disturbing Trends and Results

Way too Dependent on #95 (AJC)

Some very disturbing trends emerge here that most fans already knew. First of all, the Falcons pass rush, at least in terms of sacks, was the best when this new regime took over way back in 2008. That team was made up of a ton of journeymen on the defensive line and a makeshift linebacker corps. In fact, only Jonathan Babineaux remains from that defense. Since nearing the top ten in year one, they’ve sunk to the bottom almost every single year since. It’s true that they’ve come close to the actual number of sacks each year, but the trends says that the rest of the NFL are getting better at rushing the passer, while the Falcons stay the same or worse. Nolan’s first year as defensive coordinator can’t be looked upon in a vacuum, but it was the second worse sack total in that five year span.

And even though there’s a ton of factors at play here and it’s no simple and direct correlation, the pass defense has been mired in mediocrity (‘08, ‘10, ‘11) or the true bottom feeders of the league (‘09, ‘12). It’s likely no accident that the two worst years in pass defense were also the two worst years in pass rush by sacks. Although it could never be considered great, the two best years in sack totals were the two “best” years in pass defense. It’s not an exact correlation, but the Falcons on defense have been mediocre at best and downright awful at worst, at least in these two categories. Something’s amiss when you defense is getting worse instead of better.

Too Dependent on Abraham and Babineaux

Just to take a look at what these two players have meant to the Falcons defensive pass rush, the following is a list of total team sacks, sacks made by Abraham and Babineaux, the highest sack total by any other player, and what percent Abraham and Babineaux made up:

Year – Total Sacks – Abraham / Babineaux Sacks – Percent – Other Player Sack

2008 – 34 – Abraham (16.5) / Babineaux (3.5) – 59% – Chauncey Davis (4)

2009 – 28 – Babineaux (6) / Abraham (5.5) – 43% – Biermann (5)

2010 – 31 – Abraham (13) / Babineaux (4) – 55% – Biermann (3)

2011 – 32 – Abraham (9.5) / Babineaux (1) – 34% – Weatherspoon (4)

2012 – 29 – Abraham (10) / Babineaux (3.5) – 48% – Biermann (4)

The Cage is a Dead Zone Fighter!

Perhaps the final percentage breakdown isn’t as shocking as fans may think, but it’s still disturbing to see how dependent the pass rush has been on Abraham and Babineaux, especially the former DE. If the Falcons already have high numbers and stack up pretty well league wide it wouldn’t be that bad, but when you’re one of the weakest in the NFL at rushing the passer, than that’s a pretty scary thought. Furthermore, when you take into account that Abraham is no longer here and Babineaux turns 32 in November, it’s gets even more worrisome. Finally, the most troublesome part might be looking at the numbers from any other player not named Abraham or Babineaux. In 5 years, no player has collared more than 5 sacks, but the average is closer to four. Again, it wouldn’t be a big deal if you have a ton of other players with sacks, but that’s not the case either.

Will Osi Replace Abe?

This is one of the biggest questions facing the Falcons defense overall in 2013. As seen above, John Abraham has been almost soley responsible for the Falcons pass rush the last many years. It’s true that the former DE had his ups and downs, usually blowing out one year followed by a lesser year, but in general he’s been a rock for the Falcons rushing the passer. Flowery Branch decided to let go of Abraham for his price (something every other team apparently has had some issue with) and brought in Osi Umenyiora in free agency. The former Giant is set to turn 32 in November and is coming off a less-than-stellar year in 2012.

Osi a Big Year? (AJC)

The two-time Super Bowl champ found himself on the wrong side of a rotation with Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck. He only made four starts and pulled down 6 sacks. Going by a pure statistical perspective, fans shouldn’t get their hope up of Umenyiora blowing up and having a great year. In fact, there may be some concern on whether he can even match Abraham’s 10 sacks from 2012. Umenyiora’s last few season sack totals look as follows: 2012 – 6; 2011 – 9; 2010 – 11.5; 2009 – 7; 2008 – injury; 2007 – 13. The trendline seems to be heading down and just hoping that Umenyiora replaces Abraham’s 10 sacks might be pushing it. Of course there’s a thought that with a fresh start and more snaps, that the former Troy product can blow up again, but most fans shouldn’t hold their breath.

Is Massaquoi in Pole Position?

Assuming that Umenyiora is penciled in at one defensive end spot, that leaves the other one wide open. Most in the media are slotting Biermann in since he’s the most veteran and he’s had the most snaps there the past several years. However, it seems that Biermann will be getting his own special role that includes more looks at linebacker and standing up more than he has his hand in the dirt. If you take the normal presumption that lower drafted rookies don’t make a huge impact in year one, than neither Malliciah Goodman or Stansly Maponga will play large roles. That leaves 3rd year Cliff Matthews and 2nd year Jonathan Massaquoi as the favorites to take over the other DE position.

Matthews may well be a candidate to take the starting spot at the DE spot, but the circumstance regarding the former Gamecock is very intriguing. Mike Smith said in a recent news conference that they tasked Matthews with gaining between 10-15 lbs over the off-season and that he was close to his goal. He was already at 268 give or take and that would put him between 280 and 285. That starts getting closer to playing more of an inside role, likely at a 5 technique type in a 3-4 defense. Perhaps they just wanted him to bulk up. However, it seems that Massaquoi is in the best position to gain the most in 2013. He had the most impressive rush stats from college, pulling down 31 tackles for a loss and 20 total sacks. You never know who will emerge from training camp, but right now, Massaquoi looks to be in the strongest position.

Matthews More of a 5-Technique or DT?

How Much to Expect from Rookies?

Biermann More LB than DE?

A Collective Effort?

Rest of post to come very soon……….

114 comments Add your comment

g

June 3rd, 2013
11:12 pm

h

June 3rd, 2013
11:37 pm

h

June 3rd, 2013
11:44 pm

While getting an outside rush is important, I am more concerned about the middle of the D-line. Too many running QB’s have had success attacking the middle even when we’re able to get an outside rush. Getting Seymour is crucial to establishing SOME kind of inside presence because I don’t know if Vance Walker is the answer to our inside problems but we will see.

AtlJbo

June 4th, 2013
12:12 am

The only thing disturbing about the past is that we never gave our young guys a chance…. They didnt see the field… So how can you get production from any of them… We finally look like we are about to let our young guys develop (giving them playing time) and see what they can do.

KING KEN

June 4th, 2013
1:49 am

that witness protection program have hampered the team success at sacking the QB….mike smith philosophy is gona hurt the team in the playoffs if he dont play the young guys….you guys saw what happen when abe got hurt….nobody was ready to step up due to the fact that they havent seen the field all year

GCT

June 4th, 2013
2:26 am

Hey, h, of course Vance Walker could not possibly be the answer, considering he is a member of the OAKLAND RAIDERS.

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Grits Blitz

June 4th, 2013
9:14 am

Since inception, the only bona-fide, dependable, effective pass rushers have been Sam Williams, Claude Humphrey, John Zook, Don Smith, Chuck Smith, Kerney, Rod Coleman and John Abraham. Draft or trade for “bookends” – tackles on offense and defensive ends – who have their futures ahead of them. Then concentrate on interior linemen on both sides of the ball for improvement. It seems the “brain trust” can never figure this out and relying on just 1 genuine pass rusher and/or gimmicks every year is folly for us but welcomed by the rest of the league!

Grits Blitz

June 4th, 2013
9:31 am

and…the ONLY time we EVER had a dual threat from the left end and right end was during the Humphrey-Zook era! It surely has been a long time ago and a sad commentary for the Falcons since then when it comes to sacking/pressuring opposing quarterbacks. Maybe NEXT draft/free agency will be …finally…our year for priority at left AND right defensive ends if the front office gets results at the cornerback positions this year.

PoolerSpirit

June 4th, 2013
9:53 am

Wow… Looks like the dry spell on Falcons News has driven more fans to the Cage! Welcome guys!

jdiggitty

June 4th, 2013
9:55 am

I forget the exact math, but it seems when we compared Osi’s number of snaps per sack it was almost identical to Abe’s last year. I think it’s a fair assumption that given the same amount of playing time as Abe was, that Osi will produce a similar amount (10 sacks.) The hope with Osi over Abe is that he will be healthy at the end of the season while Abe was nursing a sore leg.

Maybe this is the year Nolan shows us what he means about 10 “4 sack” guys over 4 “10 sack” guys. It would be nice to have 4 10 sack guys AND 10 4 sack guys, but that’s wishful thinking with this group of rookies and grandpas.

jdiggitty

June 4th, 2013
9:56 am

I’d rather have interceptions than sacks anyways, and luckily we have a knack for pulling down big INTs.

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TELL THE TRUTH

June 4th, 2013
10:38 am

@KING KEN 1:49am

“Mike Smiths Philosophy” is problem #1 when it comes to applying pressure (sacks). Mike Smith is not big on racking up sacks, he’s a proponent of getting the QB off their spot (uncomfortable) in the pocket. His (Smith) mindset on rushing the passer, IMO, lessens the urgency (intensity) of the DLine on getting to the Quarterback, you’d be amazed how the players take on their coach personality, philosophy (thinking). Not surprising to me, throughout Smiths tenure we’ve ranked an average of 25th in sacks since 2008, no reason for me to think we’ll bolt into the mid-teens, or top 10 in this category this year…or the next, it is what it is.

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO TELL THE TRUTH

June 4th, 2013
10:42 am

D3, pump the blog monsters stomach…

Flo - Ri - Duh

June 4th, 2013
10:54 am

The “pass rush” & “run stop” draft will be NEXT year – this year it was a pass defense draft. I see the possibility of the Falcons going #1 DE & #2 OLB or DT in the 2014 draft……. depending on how the OL holds up.

Paddy O

June 4th, 2013
10:55 am

as it is said. statistics can lie. You’d have to add turnovers and point allowed to get the entire picture. Of course, allowing explosive plays is the flip side. Without a furious pass rush, we allow our secondary to get exploited way too frequently. TD is an offense first GM.

Paddy O

June 4th, 2013
10:59 am

also, Spoon has a odd way of tip toeing to the QB when the QB is in the box, and thus not crushing the QB when he comes into contact. Don’t know why -but that appears to be a universal think by our defense – a fear of hammering the QB to the turf.

Flo - Ri - Duh

June 4th, 2013
11:04 am

Malliciah Goodman was a 4th rounder for a reason….. could be pleasantly surprised but I don’t see him as the solution to the pass rush.

Did you stop to think that backups have to “earn” playing time? They are given a “chance” in preseason games and practice. The coaches have to determine if they are good enough to play when the game is on the line – which is not the time to experiment. Last years, of course, there were a lot of close games.

Flo - Ri - Duh

June 4th, 2013
11:07 am

IF the Falcons do sign Seymour, which sounds more doubtful now, that means they have less faith that Jerry can finally live up to his #1 draft status.

Barton

June 4th, 2013
11:55 am

Do we snatch Abraham at a discount before camp or will he hold strong on his 60 play and ridiculous $$$ demands?

Joshua Malavenda

June 4th, 2013
12:39 pm

The Falcons are playing the waiting game with Richard Seymore and I bet they sign him before the season starts.

I believe falcons defense will be just fine due to that Mafia’s excells at player development and player utilization.

In Mafia I trust.

Joshua Malavenda

June 4th, 2013
12:40 pm

darrell starks

June 4th, 2013
1:17 pm

DT have never been address since BIG GRADY JACKSON.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

June 4th, 2013
1:22 pm

You must have strength up the middle for everybody 2 be successful on defense.

If you don’t believe that ask the Steelers and Ravens, every year rank in top 10 on defense because of there massive DT up front.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

June 4th, 2013
1:30 pm

RAVENS

DT HALOTI NGATA 6′ 4 340

DT TERRENCE CODY 6′4 340

Ravens have 7 guys on there DL over 310 pounds

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

June 4th, 2013
1:38 pm

STEELERS

NT ALAMEDA TA MU 6′3 348

NT HEBRON FANGUPO 6′0 324

Steelers have 4guys on there DL over 310 pounds

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

June 4th, 2013
1:45 pm

FALCONS

Falcons have no one on there team over 310 pounds.

SMH

This is why every year our defense have problems a undersize DL will not work.

TD have had 5years 2 address this but I still question his draft picks, TD have 2 do a better job in his evaluation in his personal.

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John Waynesworld

June 4th, 2013
1:59 pm

Good article, D3, and some telling stats. We have all watched the NFL draft over the years and it did seem when it was our time to pick in the 1st round, there wasn’t much in terms of pass rushers (until this year) to choose from of the remaining DE prospects, or that we had other positional emergencies (like this year at CB).

In 2008 we had much more pressing needs, Like QB and LT, so that draft gets a big pass.

In 2009 we all THOUGHT we had a premier pass rushing interior lineman (I believe the phrase to describe Peria Jerry was a “rolling barrel of butcher blades”), but Jerry, to the disappointment of all, got hurt in training camp and hasn’t been seen in a highligh film in 4 years, except last season when he fell backwards on Abe’s ankle in Week 17. Epic fail.

In 2010, TD opted for a multi-tool player in Spoon and passed on “promising” DEs like Jerry Hughes and Sergio Kindle in an overall less than stellar D line draft. Smart move.

2011 as we all know was the big trade up for Julio and the big let down called Ray Edwards, who was supposed to save us from our sack-challenged defense. This gets a pass because we all thought we were going to get a quality FA in Edwards. Offensive gem, defensive fail.

In 2012 we paid the price for the Julio trade, so there was no 1st round pick. I believe this draft also gets a pass because of Julio’s great production and promising future. If we had to do it all over, would we give up a next year’s #1 for Julio? Heck yea, I say.

Now here we are in 2013 with a full compliment of draft picks and TD & Co decided the best top players were at the CB position, especially with the recent influx of mobile AND accurate QBs. We shall see in the future about the decision, but TD most likely did the correct move. Thankfully we got Osi to stem the tide at DE and we did draft a couple of young and very strong pass rushers, who should at the very least have a gigantic chip on their shoulders, to serve as part of Nolan’s rotational schemes.

As D3 so aptly stated, hopeful about the 2013 roster…but seeing is believing.

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Joshua malavenda

June 4th, 2013
2:46 pm

Mr Starks – you got a point with needing a bunch of beef in the middle. Ta’amu is a bad example because he doesn’t even get playing time because his troubles off the field.

Hamad Meander

June 4th, 2013
3:17 pm

I am excited about this year’s defense. With the addition of Umenyiora and Mallaciah Goodman, we have two guys that are tall, rangy, and reasonably quick and are not a liability in run-stopping. We have situational players with Maponga and Biermann that can make 3rd downs interesting. We have depth with Massiquoa and Matthews. Don’t forget a better backfield makes a better pass rush (although I like building from the front back), so Trufant and Alford will give our front line another 0.5 seconds to get to the QB. Maybe I’m being optimistic, but I like what we have in place.

I completely see us adding another piece after MR2 gets his megadeal, and I believe it will be a defensive tackle. Getting a good push up the middle with speed on the ends means a miserable day for opposing QBs.

With Nolan’s defense, I think we all were impressed by the turnover generation that occured especially when facing elite QBs like Manning and Brees. I’ll take more turnovers vs. sacks all day long. Sacks are nice. Turnovers are game changers.

Birdman

June 4th, 2013
5:15 pm

Birdman

June 4th, 2013
5:17 pm

The Monger

June 4th, 2013
6:13 pm

I don’t understand your philosophy on Osi “declining” as you say, while it may be true he fell out of favor with Tom Coughlin, it was not for lack of talent or effort. You don’t list it fairly when you JUST give sack totals. You mention he only had 6 sacks last year, like first of all that is a terrible number of sacks, and secondly you mention he only started 4 games to earn those six sacks, so why could he not theoretically accumulate 12-13 sacks if he played full time. Once again, not his fault for being in Coughlin’s doghouse, and having two young, premier DE’s in front of him. The last 3 seasons he has played and started a full 16 game season, he has recorded double digit sacks in all 3. 14.5 sacks in 2005, 13 sacks in 2007, 11.5 in 2010. I do not think he is declining with age, as alot of DE’s actually produce well into their mid 30s, and many have put up huge numbers at that age. I remember Reggie White was putting up 16-17 sack seasons in his mid 30s, and same thing with Bruce Smith, and even Abe last year.

WR

June 4th, 2013
7:40 pm

Not to bark back up the same tree, but this just happens to be an area of concern for this regime that is rarely mentioned. I won’t bark too much more on my concern that a defensive minded HC hasn’t really built much of a D in 6 seasons, but the point at least needed to be mentioned. Honestly I’m just not sure why this D isn’t stronger, but it says even more about TD in that he has built such a potent O.

Without knowing the inner-workings of a team, I can say I have no idea what’s going on. Why give Jamaal Andersen so many opportunities while Sidbury who actually showed some promise by getting sacks, seemed to be only relegated to the dog house for reasons unknown to most fans.

If not for Nolan’s schemes, would the D last year been any better, was a really better, or did it just have a great coordinator. Kind of makes one wonder, did BVG really deserve all the blame he got. One could easily say that sure, he wasn’t as creative as Nolan, one could also say that Nolan had and has more NFL experience, but both lacked the talent to reasonably excel. But I’m going to say, where is this defensive mind in Smitty that helped propel the Ravens D to exceptionable heights, which is why the Falcons hired him. One could argue TD’s picks, but really he hasn’t missed at much as he has hit, which is why he was hired away from one of the most consistent winning teams in the league. But what is the excuse for Smitty, all will be forgiven if the Falcons win the SB this year, but Smitty’s record puts him up their with some of the best, is that a product of the players TD is giving him to work with or is it his coaching. Until the Falcons formulate a formidable rush and an attitude offensively where there decimating teams in the 1st and stepping on their throats in the 2nd, the finger will continually be pointed at Smitty.

Paddy O

June 4th, 2013
7:46 pm

JWW – agree pretty much completely with your summary – good job.

JB Falcon

June 4th, 2013
8:31 pm

WR, your concerns are warranted for sure but I could not help but remember back to JWW’s post at 1:59 this afternoon. I think his summation pretty well leads up to what we can expect this year. So far we don’t have the DT everyone wants but he is on the way, imo, and with a full year of Nolan testing the D we had last year and an influence he had in this year’s draft I think that Nolan will give you the D you have been wondering about.
A lot of cagers are down on MS and a lot of it is warranted but you can’t overlook the man’s record and the accolades he has received within the NFL. I think he has done the best that could have been done with what he has had to work with. This year, with a full draft, we have a lot of strength, size, and speed. It’s going to depend on what we do with it and I fully believe you are going to see that D you have been wishing for.

WR

June 4th, 2013
9:18 pm

JB, I don’t disagree, which is why I mentioned that Smitty is one of the best in his tenure. But again, as a Defensive minded HC he has a potent O with a below average D in his tenure. That just hasn’t happened often in the NFL which is cause for concern, but that’s not overshadow his accomplishments as the Falcons HC.

I’m hoping as you are and probably most Falcons are, that the birds finally get over the hump. This probably doesn’t mean much but let’s consider:

-Rex Ryan, strong defensive mind, team known for D even if last year it went by the wayside.
-Mike Tomlin, a defensive coach, only helped to add to the Steelers defensive dominance, again last year aside.
-Lesley Frazier, not exactly the D would scream for, but formidable his team was with a number of injuries.
-Lovie Smith, whom just got fired, it wasn’t because of D he put on the field
-The Cincinnati Bengals didn’t lose to the Texas because Marvin Lewis hadn’t developed a good D
-The 49ers stayed in games not because of the new pistol craze but because of their D
-Same could be said of Seattle

It would be trivial to say what Smitty has done during his time with the Falcons is not outstanding, but in name only a few HC’s that moved on from being defensive minded Coordinators, only to achieve success with there team’s at least defensively, sorry, but Smitty is just not that high on the list. Maybe and hopefully he improves this year, just to add something to the list, Marv Levy is probably one of the best coaches of all times, given the recognition, he would have been higher if he could have gotten over the hump. Andy Reid just got fired because he couldn’t get over the hump, getting over the hump requires change, what has made many of the best the best, they understood that. Just ask Dick Vermeil and the Rams.

Grits Blitz

June 4th, 2013
9:27 pm

MS, TD, and Coach Nolan can count on more of the same unless they admit vast improvement on D is imperative! Quit “gaming the system”. The players and the fans know better and what you’re feeding us is not going down well – again. If PJ was the answer, he would’ve already flashed his “butcher blades”. All he’s got appears to be a beefy tummy, feet of quicksand, “butterfly blades”, and (looks like another J. Andersen after many “project” years) scares nobody on opposing offenses. Time this busted project was fired – or traded, at best. Move Biermann to outside linebacker fulltime with Spoon to use their speed to cover TEs. Obtain a pounding middle linebacker that can make plays, lead a defense, and use common sense w/in different d. coverages. AD just doesn’t appear to have what it takes to be a stud ML. (Hope one of our FAs is a surprise “find” as we need him to be.) And…keep our starters…all of them…off special teams. Lastly, what real choice to we really have? Quit letting a dime hold up a dollar and sign R. Seymour and Abe while you can still get them. Remember, Gonzo said it’s all about THIS year so let NEXT year be the big youth movement. And, please players & fans, quit saying you want to “go” to the Super Bowl. We already know “going” to the SB is the worst kind of feeling if you don’t play to “win” the SB. (Just ask our party brains of Dirty Bird infamy on pre-SB night.) We need a D to get us there AND win it and I don’t see us doing either by staying the (past) course with another pat hand.

Arno

June 4th, 2013
9:28 pm

Opposing teams know the Falcons conservative tendencies when we have a lead. It makes it all the more easy for them to defend us while they try to get back in the game. It bit us in the worst way come the playoffs, but that’s a dead horse beat to a pulp. I’ve been ready to pounce on any hint that the Falcons would modify their offensive philosophy when holding a lead, but in all the post season comments– nothing. If the Falcons will not change their approach (throw out half the playbook when we have the lead), then we hope that the addition of Jackson will at least make that approach more effective. What we have heard in the post season comments, and have seen in the draft, is that they are willing to rethink defense. So D3s new post is something to focus on: “While it’s unfair to go only by sacks as an indicator, it’s one of the few easily seen proofs that fans have when trying to gauge pass rush. Coaches will talk all the time about “disrupting a passer’s rhythm, getting him off his spot, or QB hits,” but that only comes up when they’re trying to justify something.” I want to test this by looking at QB completion % next to sacks per game for last year. Our record for sack win/loss/tie was 6W/8L/4T. For QB completion % our record was 13W/5L. Since our record of 14W/4L more closely matches the QB completion % than sack totals, then “disrupting a passer’s rhythm, getting him off his spot, or QB hits” shakes out to be valid. I’m not saying by this that our pass rush doesn’t need to improve. Quite the contrary– given our O philosophy not changing much, we better improve on pass rush. But using sacks as a gauge– it may not be the best guide.

D3

June 4th, 2013
10:19 pm

Great Tuesday Eve Cage! — Been out of town for the last week and getting ready to go visit more family in a few days. Thanks for your patience on the updating of the post. Just updated a most recent part regarding Cliff Matt and Mass. Refresh and enjoy………

Cheers ‘all!

CDUBB

June 5th, 2013
12:48 am

I think the addition of a couple of athletic CBs will allow Nolan to be more exotic with blitz packages. I also expect to see the Falcons in a lot more amoeba fronts and effectively running a heavy nickel package as a base defense.

Wings

June 5th, 2013
7:57 am

Arno – “Opposing teams know the Falcons conservative tendencies when we have a lead. ”

A dead horse and stark reality. A situation that is difficult to overcome even with the best players.

Ken Strickland

June 5th, 2013
1:29 pm

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1659808-5-things-we-learned-from-atlanta-falcons-otas

CAGERS-Here’s another interesting article. I’ve read a couple of articles that indicated the possibility of Trufant & either Alford or McClain could be our starting outside CBs while Samuel could be moved to the slot, where his gambling ways would make him much more effective.

With the dynamic & well balanced OFF we’ll have, we can do just about anything we want on DEF. I have a feeling this yrs OL will be our best ever. There’s no way in hell we would have cut Clabo unless TD, Smitty & Hill were totally convinced LHolmes was a sure thing.

The same holds true for PKonz. There was obviously so much confidence in Konz & Holmes’ ability to take over C & RT that we didn’t bother to add any potential replacements through the draft or FA. When Holmes was draft, he was considered one of the best pass blockers in the draft.

He was also considered extremely athletic, with quick feet, for a man his size, and he was also consider a quick learner. The only real knock on him was his footwork, which obviously has been corrected based on the moves we’ve made.

The only player that’s no longer on the team that I consider a real loss is DT VWalker, who I felt was our best DT last yr.

Ken Strickland

June 5th, 2013
3:54 pm

I don’t see the big deal being made about this yrs schedule. Of the 16gms, 10 will be against teams we played last yr(Panthers, Bucs, Aints, Redskins, 49ers, Seahawks & Cardinals), & we were 14-4 last yr.

Of the new teams on the schedule, the Rams(7-8-1), Dolphins(7-9) & Bills(6-10) had losing records. The Packers(11-5) & Patriots(12-4)are the only new teams on our schedule with winning records.

Neither team had much of a DEF last yr, especially pass DEF, and that’s not good for any team that needs to stop this yrs extemely potent Falcon OFF. Even under playoff conditions, the top rated DEFs of the Seahawks & 49ers couldn’t stop last yrs Falcon OFF.

With our improved OL, rushing & passing OFF, do you think they’ll have any better luck at stopping our much improved OFF?

Arno

June 5th, 2013
6:29 pm

“At the risk of making grand proclamations after watching one practice in an OTA Wednesday, Steven Jackson looks a thousand times better than Michael Turner.” –Jeff Schultz

John Waynesworld

June 5th, 2013
7:10 pm

Arno, we can all almost see it in our minds and it’s going to be even better, imo. I think we are all going to laugh at how productive our offense will be on Sundays by adding this beast of a running back with a Super Bowl ring in his sights. Hopefully we don’t show too much in preseason (it may be hard not to, or it may not even matter) because I think this team is going to put on a national show in New Orleans and put a 50 spot on the Superdome scoreboard.

JB Falcon

June 5th, 2013
7:32 pm

JWW I’m all for putting on a show in N.O. but the big one will be played in SF for the 50th Super Bowl. I can think of no better reward for waiting 46 years than to win the 50th Super Bowl. Furthermore, I think those of us who have faithfully pulled for the Falcons since ‘66 deserve to win the 50th and bask in all the glory that will come with it. I’m going to start saving my money now so that I can buy an entire 6 pack of Busch Lite for the occasion.

JJ

June 5th, 2013
9:09 pm

JB, That SB is in 2016, not that pacient. How bout we go for it this yr and freeze our nuts in god for saken NY in feb 2014?

Ill buy u some boonesfarm strawberry wine to go with your busch lite!

The Time is NOW

June 5th, 2013
10:02 pm

Great read, D3, as always!

Starting some projects on the house and yard, so I don’t know how much time I’ll have for the Cage in the coming months. I will continue to read D3’s columns, and will post when I have time and something to say. Happy Summer Cage!