Atlanta’s defense did one thing right last year. They were successful pressuring the QB.
Led by sack master John Abraham, Atlanta registered 38 sacks on opposing quarterbacks last season. Abraham had 16 1/2 sacks, but that is a feat he will be hard-pressed to repeat this upcoming season though.
With that in mind, somebody else has to step up if Atlanta is going to be successful pressuring the quarterback this year. Of the eight players besides Abraham who had sacks, no player had more than four sacks and only two of the eight had more than two sacks.
“A good pass rush covers a multitude of deficiencies.” Now I’m not sure where I heard this, but I do know that this fit Atlanta’s defensive personality to a tee last year.
The Falcons were tied for 11th in sacks with the Baltimore Ravens last season, but unlike Baltimore, their success in that area didn’t extend to other parts of their defense.
Case in point, the Falcons were 29th in tackles, tied for 27th in interceptions, and tied for 19th in passes defended during the regular season. They were also tied for 29th in forced fumbles and tied 20th in fumble recoveries.
Both Coach Mike Smith and General manager Thomas Dimitroff were concerned about their defense’s lack of speed and physicality, and have devoted the off-season to improving these areas.
One step they’ve taken was to use seven of their eight draft picks on defensive players. Another step they’ve taken is to sign a number of undrafted rookies and young players released from other teams in order to bolster competition in training camp.
One more thing that will help is getting back players who were injured last year like CB Brent Grimes, DT Trey Lewis, and CB Von Hutchins.
Here’s how the defense is shaping up so far: