OK, critics: Find something wrong with John Abraham

John Abraham is in double-digits in sacks for the seventh time in his career -- and at the age of 34. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

John Abraham is in double-digits in sacks for the seventh time in his career -- and at the age of 34. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

At the age of 34, in his 13th NFL season, in the 171st game of his career, after the generally mandated assortment of groin, ankle, back, shoulder, head and who-knew-I-even-had-a-body-part-there ailments, John Abraham made a play. Actually, he made the play. Again.

The Falcons were leading New Orleans 20-13 in the fourth quarter last Thursday on national television. The Saints had the ball, driving toward a possible tying score. But on third down from the Atlanta 36, Abraham — looking as if he had just been drinking from the Fountain of Red Bull — flew around the left corner, leaving Saints tackle Zach Strief spinning like a weather vane, and buried quarterback Drew Brees for a sack.

End of touchdown threat. End of field-goal threat.

Soon, end of Saints.

“He’s no different for us than Ray Lewis (is for Baltimore),” teammate Jonathan Babineaux said Wednesday. “Ray Lewis is dominant. He does everything for his defense. Abe comes through in the clutch when we need him to. He gets the quarterback. It’s what he’s been doing his entire professional life.”

If we can put aside for a moment all of the flaws that people seem to find in this 11-1 football team –  and let that digest for a minute – consider the accomplishments of one player that everybody seems to agree on.

Abraham’s sack of Brees was the 122nd of his career and his 10th in 12 games this season (the seventh time in his career he has mugged in double digits). He remains one of the NFL’s more productive pass rushers and one of the few defensive players that opponents actually have to scheme against, this because the Falcons have failed to find a reasonable threat to book end the other side of the defensive line.

They tried Ray Edwards. They would’ve been better off with a hologram.

“It’s not a big deal,” Abraham said when asked about carrying the bulk of pass-rush responsibilities. “Since I’ve been in the league, I’ve been the main pass rusher on the team, so I’m used to it. It’s like Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen. I’m just used to being the person who’s going to take the last shot.”

Linebacker Mike Peterson suspects Abraham actually prefers it this way: “You can look at it one of two ways. Are they bringing in a guy to help you on the other side, or are they bringing in a guy to replace you? I think he appreciates being that guy.”

It’s a fair point. If Edwards hadn’t flat-lined from the moment he was signed, the Falcons might not have felt as desperate to re-sign Abraham before this season.

As it is, they got a bargain. Abraham certainly could’ve signed for more than what the Falcons gave him: three years, $16.72 million, only $2.25 million guaranteed. Tennessee was among the pursuers. But Abraham chose to stay for a couple of reasons. He didn’t want to start over with another team. He also wanted to play for new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, who was the New York Jets’ coordinator during Abraham’s rookie season.

“I didn’t want to go some place and end up not liking where I was playing,” he said. “At the end of your career, you want to feel comfortable. I talked to a couple of teams, but my main thing was to get back here and not go some place else just for the money. It makes a lot of sense now, with the way the season is going.”

Abraham struggled with a groin strain for much of last season. He still had 9½ sacks.

Nolan has moved him around. He told Abraham he didn’t care if the player stood up or put his hand in the dirt. “As long as I get the job done,” Abraham said.

Falcons offensive tackle Tyson Clabo has a special appreciation for what Abraham is doing at his age. He makes his living trying to block guys.

“He has the ability to deal with the noise and get off on the snap count,” Clabo said. “As the game goes along, he gets into a rhythm, and he understands the other team’s cadence. And he still has the speed to turn the corner.”

This week, the Falcons play Carolina. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been sacked 30 times, among the most-abused passers in the league.

Somebody just rang the lunch bell.

By Jeff Schultz

48 comments Add your comment

Dizzle D

December 5th, 2012
4:35 pm

….and John’s very hungry!

IveSeenThatTOO

December 5th, 2012
4:36 pm

Ding Dong! Here kitty kitty!

jimbofisher

December 5th, 2012
4:41 pm

Well he has been known to be arrested mid-season.

Benjamin

December 5th, 2012
4:50 pm

Great player – borderline “all-time great” talent – on the end, but the only concern with him as a football player historically has been his ability to stay healthy. No question his value to this franchise, though, this year or otherwise. Love the dude on the field, and hope we keep him healthy/happy for a few more years here.

Go Birds. (Good read, Schultzie.)

tonyb

December 5th, 2012
4:56 pm

You will get no argument from me. Abraham is one of the greatest pass rushing DE’ s I have EVER seen play in the NFL. His technique should be studied by all who wish to play the position.

After further review

December 5th, 2012
5:12 pm

He is certainly a great talent, and, I suspect, will be in Canton, Ohio soon after he retires. As long as he’s able to perform at this level, I hope he stays with the Falcons.

GarnetBlack

December 5th, 2012
5:32 pm

A great Gamecock. We have another one just like him, but I doubt Clowney will be available when the Falcons draft in 2014.

Mikey

December 5th, 2012
6:04 pm

So glad that Abraham is back with us this year and that he is having one of the better seasons of his carreer. His motor is locked on red-line and his brain has them outmatched. I don’t know where he gets his energy but I am so glad he is on OUR side. GO JOHN! GO FALCONS! YOU ARE RISING UP!

Eisendawg

December 5th, 2012
6:38 pm

Ok, here goes Jeff. He’s obviously been hanging around Mark Richt and Aaron Murray, because he’s never won a NC or a Super Bowl. Just kidding, of course.

Eisendawg

December 5th, 2012
6:44 pm

Acquiring Abe and Tony G were two of the best trades ever for the Falcons.

Rise Up # 12

December 5th, 2012
6:55 pm

Abuse the Panthers.

http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/greg-hardy-says-carolina-panthers-better-than-atlanta-falcons-120512

December 5th, 2012
7:14 pm

Say WHAT???????

Falcon228

December 5th, 2012
7:25 pm

He’s useless. All he does is sack the QB, tackle RBs for a loss, cause fumbles, knock down and tip passes and also cause the QB to hurry his throw that leads to a pick. Will somebody please get in touch with ESPN and tell them how useless JOHN ABRAHAM is to this pathetic Falcons team that does nothing but win football games!!!!!!

Brent

December 5th, 2012
8:24 pm

Amen Falcon228, amen!!!

Brent

December 5th, 2012
8:25 pm

And thanks, Abe

techmule

December 5th, 2012
8:53 pm

Hey Jeff schultz ,find something he does right.He had 1 and i did say 1 big game with win over saints and all of a sudden he”s a saint send from heaven to you and the rest of you sports writers from around the league.This team mate of his John babynox or who ever is a lesser player than what this number 55 is.You all are saying he is one of the best at his position to play the game.The man had one – - -one sack and you ;re saying he’s the best the best.are kidding me or your self.Please find something else to write about and tell the TRUTH man. Atlanta will always be loser as long as you sports writer keep them thinking that there REAL good when there the laughing stock of all SPORTS AND you want to know why they don”t get any respect no love from anyone.WELL DESERVE FALCONS AND SPORTS WRITER OF THE A. J. C. from a was a fan of the atlanta falcons.

Rise Up 007

December 5th, 2012
8:56 pm

See you Sunday.

MaxxFalcon

December 5th, 2012
9:14 pm

@techmule- Please refrain from leaving comments if you are too stupid to communicate in English. Thank you.

meme

December 5th, 2012
9:33 pm

any playoff tix available?

oldbird

December 5th, 2012
9:38 pm

wow techmule, don’t know much about football do you? Perhaps there is a tiddlywinks blog somewhere. Good grief.

Whopper Dawg

December 5th, 2012
10:27 pm

The biggest problem Abraham has is TD who was quite willing to let him walk before the season. I am surprised he is still with the team.

meme

December 5th, 2012
10:58 pm

techmule you must related to that dumbass techduck did ya’alls school just stop at the third grade?

RunninWithTheDawgs

December 6th, 2012
5:15 am

Abe is holding his position down on a team that’s 11-1. ’nuff said. GO FALCONS

inkspot

December 6th, 2012
6:00 am

ABE is a beast. He’s been the Falcons only real pass-rushing threat for years now and he’s still making plays! If you notice he’s always among the first to congratulate Biermann or other DL when they happen (rarely) to get a sack, too.

phil

December 6th, 2012
6:47 am

Okay…..

Where was he last January against the Giants?
The previous January against the Packers?
The playoff game against the Cardinals?

That’s what I thought. Asleep, with the rest of em.

Samuel

December 6th, 2012
6:51 am

Dude is a hall of famer simply put

GetReal

December 6th, 2012
8:01 am

Question what does Abraham have that Edwards doesn’t? Answer: a sack and a job!!! Look for two sack day this weekend against the kitties.

T Dog

December 6th, 2012
8:03 am

I feel sorry for the people that leave negative comments on this blog. All teams have flaws and are not perfect, but I think I could find something positive to say about an 11-1 football team. I’d hate to go through life being that negative about everything!

Whiskey Breath

December 6th, 2012
8:21 am

John is a prototype DE. One of the best I ever saw. However, he misses too many games because of injuries. No fault to him, but it is still a drawback. He can put on a clinic on how to disrupt a offense.

@Techmule

December 6th, 2012
8:31 am

A jackass that went to Tech?

JSS

December 6th, 2012
8:53 am

Moderation hooey, he was arrested for goodness sake, and the infamous meltdown interview is still out there… Poo poo, they now call a failed interview an: “Abraham!”

Dr. Phil

December 6th, 2012
9:53 am

John, I love ya, man.

ohmy

December 6th, 2012
10:40 am

One team in the NFL has beaten all the other teams it has played. GO ABE! GO FALCONS!

shannyeight

December 6th, 2012
10:43 am

@ whopper- Abe knows it as well as everyone else- he’s not gettin any younger, and sometimes the injuries dont allow him to play at his full potential. TD wanted to sign him, but not for the amount of money that they would’ve signed a younger player…unfortunately, the Edwards experiment didnt work, so they were thankful that they had signed Abe. I’m glad that he signed a new contract, that still allowed the team to have extra money- that’s a sign of him not being selfish and thinking of the team getting a few more players that will perhaps help them get over the hump in the playoffs.

Whiskey Breath

December 6th, 2012
10:46 am

I am so proud of the Falcons. Been a fan all the way back to the 60’s and this has been the best season we have ever had. The GM and coach have never been better. However, we have to win something to make this season special. Of course, Julio Jones is my boy.

Flo-Ri-Duh

December 6th, 2012
10:58 am

Carolina Panthers DE, Charles Johnson, from Hawkinsville, Georgia is the real deal….. harassed Mat Ryan and sacked him all day long th3e last time they played. Going to have to double team Johnson.

Banned by Mark Bradley

December 6th, 2012
11:25 am

I can’t tell you what’s wrong with Abraham……Maybe bad breath.

I can tell you whats wrong with Mark Bradley……He’s a Mark Bradley!

Matt R

December 6th, 2012
12:28 pm

Abe is one of the few players I have ever watched where you can send 3 pass rushers and still expect to get a sack. HOFer – IMHO

Eric C.

December 6th, 2012
2:17 pm

lol @ Greg Hardy…thanks for posting that link 7:14 pm. In all seriousness, the Falcons need to protect Ryan this game because it sounds like some cheap shots could be coming his way. This game isn’t really that important with a 2.5 game lead for #1 spot.

DONNAN OF A NEW ERA

December 6th, 2012
2:33 pm

Just last week Jeff said the DWAGS would beat Bama.

Nuff said.

DONNAN OF A NEW ERA

December 6th, 2012
2:36 pm

Remember that time way back when. Maybe one month ago when it took a hail mary pass to help the Falcons to beat the Panthers? Yeah, any Falcon fans saying Carolina will get a beat down by the Falcons is a moron.

crackbaby

December 6th, 2012
2:44 pm

Can Cam Newton and the Carolina O-Line cash the check Greg Hardy just wrote?

We shall soon find out.

crackbaby

December 6th, 2012
2:45 pm

and John Abraham is THE BOSS!

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

December 6th, 2012
3:13 pm

Well it looks like it is that time of year when ole CHOKEs arm gets tired. He has just 2 touchdowns and 6 picks in his last 3 games, and only 3 picks off of the league lead (at least he leads something).

I thought he dedicated the offseason to working on a stronger body. I guess he didn’t workout at Gold’s Gym and instead at Lady’s Bally Spa

HA HA :)

dougmo2

December 6th, 2012
3:36 pm

What’s wrong with John, he gets arrested for being stupid by the APD.

Answer This

December 7th, 2012
9:37 pm

So how many pics will Vick throw the rest of the year Choke? O wait he is 3 rd string QB now cang make to many from the bench….hebenenebebebnennJajajaj

Icceman72

December 9th, 2012
5:56 am

@TechMule you are a dumbass! stay off the blog writing like you are America’s dumbest person! Hopefully you didnt graduate from Tech because that would mean they need their academic acredidation pulled immediately! Big John is the best DE next to Lawrence Taylor ever in NFL. None of those NY defensive linemen can compare to include the retired overrated Strahan! Big John will have 3 sacks today on cry baby Newton!

Icceman72

December 9th, 2012
6:03 am

@Answer This, why would you be hating on Vick and not his offensive line? They didnt get bench and they couldn’t block a High School Defensive linemen, however noone mentions that fact just always looking to find fault in Vick! All you haters need to try playing QB and get your bell rung by a 300 pound man running un blokced full speed from your blind side!!! Then lets see what kind of appreciation you have for Vick after that!!