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Jeff Schultz: Pass Rush Still A Problem


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http://www.myajc.com/news/sports/football/falcons-pass-rush-still-looks-like-a-problem/nfwFp/#2ceb2d2e.257071.735367

Think of a football team as your house. Even if things seem fine structurally, the kitchen and bathrooms probably need updating, the carpet needs to be ripped up and everything needs a new coat of paint. Otherwise, don’t expect great results when it goes the market.

The Falcons showed like an old house last season. There’s an argument that, given injuries, they weren’t as bad as a 4-12 record might indicate. But they went into the offseason with a long to-do list to bring things up to standard again.

The offensive line needed to get better. It probably did. Tackle Jake Matthews was drafted and guard Jon Asamoah was signed in free agency. Those two moves should help a starting line that could neither pass protect (Matt Ryan: 44 sacks) or run block (Falcons ranked 32nd in rushing) last season.I’m not sure everything has been checked off.

The pass rush needed to get better. If the arrow is pointing up here, it’s not obvious.

Drafting Jadeveon Clowney would’ve helped. But trading with Houston for the No. 1 pick to get Clowney presumably was deemed cost-prohibitive, so it wouldn’t be fair to criticize general manager Thomas Dimitroff. We can certainly debate whether the draft would have had a greater impact if the Falcons moved up for outside linebacker Khalil Mack instead of taking Matthews. But that’s all about player evaluation — and, again, the Falcons needed a tackle.

There weren’t a lot of great pass rushers in the first seven other than Clowney and Mack. The Falcons had interest in Auburn end Dee Ford, Pittsburgh outside linebacker Ryan Shazier and Boise State linebacker DeMarcus Lawrence. They got none of those.

The problem is what the Falcons’ defensive front looks like today: heavy at tackle but light at end and outside linebacker, where the sacks often come from.

This is a defense that ranked only 29th in the NFL last season with 32 sacks. There is an absolute correlation between 2.0 sacks per game and four wins per season.

Coach Mike Smith says sack numbers are “overrated.” He repeated it the other day, adding: “It is about making the quarterback uncomfortable and making him have to move off of that spot he is so accustomed to standing in when he is throwing.”

He’s somewhat correct about that. But more often than not, sack numbers are telling. There were 13 playoff-worthy teams last season — 12 that made it in and Arizona, which finished 10-6 but was left out after tiebreakers. Ten of those 13 teams finished in the top 13 in sacks: Carolina (ranked No. 1), New Orleans (4), New England (5), Kansas City (6t), Arizona (T-6) Seattle (T-8), Green Bay (T-8), Cincinnati (10), Indianapolis (11) and Denver (13).

Contrast that with the records of the 13 teams with the worst sacking defenses in the NFL: Jacksonville (4-12), Chicago (8-8), Houston (2-14), Atlanta (4-12), Detroit (7-9), Pittsburgh (8-8), New York Giants (7-9), Dallas (8-8), Tampa Bay (4-12), San Diego (9-7), Washington (3-13), Tennessee (7-9) and Philadelphia (10-6). That’s 11 non-playoff teams and only two winning records.

Please. Don’t tell me sacks don’t matter.

The Falcons signed defensive tackle Paul Soliai and 3-4 end Tyson Jackson in free agency. They join tackles Jonathan Babineaux, Corey Peters, Peria Jerry and Travian Robertson. It didn’t figure the team would spend a second-round pick on a player, Ra’Shede Hageman, who played nose tackle at Minnesota. But Dimitroff and Smith believe Hageman, at 6 feet 6 and 310 pounds, projects well as an end. He’ll join Osi Umenyiora, who’s the closest thing the Falcons have to a proven pass rusher.

Whether the Falcons run a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme, it seems clear the intent will be to try to collapse opposing offensive lines with their strength and then hope that one or two defenders with speed can get to the quarterback. Maybe that’s Umenyiora. Maybe that’s Kroy Biermann (if he can come back from a torn Achilles). Maybe that’s one of the other draft picks, Prince Shembo from Notre Dame. Maybe it’s somebody else.

But right now, the Falcons look weak in area where they had to get stronger if they hoped to contend in the NFC South and the conference this season. And it’s no coincidence that division rivals Carolina and New Orleans had two of the league’s best pass rushes last season and both made the playoffs.

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that's exactly what I'm thinking.. were going to have to win up front with strength and hope one of our avg pass rushers can benefit off it... it can happen, someone like mass and OSI can make that happen..

Berman IdK about him, he's always been avg, at this point I still think mass should get some of his reps

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The sacks come when you develop the pressure to force them. Collapse the pocket, sacks **** near take care of themselves. We couldn't collapse a house of cards last year. Thus, few sacks. Why is it hard to see that? Clowney wouldn't have got any sacks with our dline last year.

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If we traded up for Mack we would be talking about how we need to still upgrade our Oline. I am curious to see this year if our pass rushing problems were more about not pushing up the middle and having a horrible Run defense. Our run defense should be soooo much better which I believe opens up our pass defense and allows for us to get to the QB.

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I just think we will have a solid, all around defense. As long as the defense is sound and commits to tackling anyone on the opposing team then it will be much improved. I think the defense isn't going to be all attack like Seattle or NO but they will play fundamental football and get off the field on third downs.

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Jeff and the of those knuckle heads at Ajc needs to find a new job. The Falcons pass rush will be great this year. There are multiple ways to generate pass rush other than some stud player. Having a monster D line is first step. That's done. Secondly have some corners that can cover. That's dobe. Lastly have some LBs that can flat out fly. Check please

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Reasons the pass D will be better this year:

Much better run D- lot more 3rd and longs. Much easier to get a sack on 3rd and 10 than 3rd and 4.

Trufant and Alford have a years worth of experience, they'll be much better this year.

Babs, Osi and Biermann will have their snaps reduced, they'll be more effective because they don't have to spend so much energy defending the run.

Reasonable things to hope for:

Mass takes off in his 3rd year.

1-2 of the LBs become effective pass rushers- I'm betting on Shembo and Bartu

Hageman is a pocket collapsing beast.

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WTF is wrong with supposed "professionals" in sports media? Do they not understand that you can get sacks without a premier pass rusher?

Oh no! The Falcons didn't get the guy who had a lot of sacks in college so now they will have no sacks this year in the pros!!!

The Falcons added Soliai, Tyson Jackson, and Hageman. They retained Babineaux and Peters. There were linebackers and DEs that got sacks last year behind our 2 best DL who are now our 3 and 4th best DL. We had DEs and OLBs who got sacks behind an undersized DL and now size has been upgraded. Because of that smallish DL, we had to run a pretty vanilla 4-3 and now we can run a 3-4 which will open up lanes everywhere for the likes of Weatherspoon, Massaquoi, Bartu, Biermann, Shembo, Smallwood, Starr, and that Cuse guy to explode through. We added a lightning fast FS. Blitzes can come from that position now. DL coaching has been upgraded.

Point being- this team did about a million things to upgrade that pass rush and all these "experts" are labeling it a failure because they didn't draft 1 guy classified as a pass rusher? That's idiocy. That's called having an obsession with terminology and zero understanding of the game.

Case in point- if the Falcons would have done none of what they did and instead simply drafted Dee Ford in the 2nd, then the talking heads would probably laud the Falcons for addressing the pass rush. Dee Ford would have gotten swallowed up last year. So would have Clowney, Attaochu, Van Noy or any of those insta-cures heralded by the media. The Falcons pass rush will be better this year than it has been in years. Too many big bodies, too much speed, too much toughness.

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WTF is wrong with supposed "professionals" in sports media? Do they not understand that you can get sacks without a premier pass rusher?

Oh no! The Falcons didn't get the guy who had a lot of sacks in college so now they will have no sacks this year in the pros!!!

The Falcons added Soliai, Tyson Jackson, and Hageman. They retained Babineaux and Peters. There were linebackers and DEs that got sacks last year behind our 2 best DL who are now our 3 and 4th best DL.

Soliai and Jackson are there to help out the run defense . You shouldn't buy into the terminology that they will take up " blockers" allowing our other components to run free and create havoc . In today's NFL you have to have finishers and not just pressures who can't complete the play. Most offense are built on rhythmn and timing quick drops and ball out of hands so while it's nice to have some big boys no one is going to run free and rack up uncontested sacks . You have to beat 1 on 1 battles in matter of seconds and create pressure and finish plays off

FALCONS HAVE ZERO FINISHERS

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WTF is wrong with supposed "professionals" in sports media? Do they not understand that you can get sacks without a premier pass rusher?

Oh no! The Falcons didn't get the guy who had a lot of sacks in college so now they will have no sacks this year in the pros!!!

The Falcons added Soliai, Tyson Jackson, and Hageman. They retained Babineaux and Peters. There were linebackers and DEs that got sacks last year behind our 2 best DL who are now our 3 and 4th best DL. We had DEs and OLBs who got sacks behind an undersized DL and now size has been upgraded. Because of that smallish DL, we had to run a pretty vanilla 4-3 and now we can run a 3-4 which will open up lanes everywhere for the likes of Weatherspoon, Massaquoi, Bartu, Biermann, Shembo, Smallwood, Starr, and that Cuse guy to explode through. We added a lightning fast FS. Blitzes can come from that position now. DL coaching has been upgraded.

Point being- this team did about a million things to upgrade that pass rush and all these "experts" are labeling it a failure because they didn't draft 1 guy classified as a pass rusher? That's idiocy. That's called having an obsession with terminology and zero understanding of the game.

Case in point- if the Falcons would have done none of what they did and instead simply drafted Dee Ford in the 2nd, then the talking heads would probably laud the Falcons for addressing the pass rush. Dee Ford would have gotten swallowed up last year. So would have Clowney, Attaochu, Van Noy or any of those insta-cures heralded by the media. The Falcons pass rush will be better this year than it has been in years. Too many big bodies, too much speed, too much toughness.

I can visualize what the coaching staff is trying to do and what you are saying. It makes sense from an analytical standpoint. Now I hope that their, your, and my visualization become reality.

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He makes a very small point but when you try to skew the numbers to make yourself look good it kinda makes the rest of what you say seem like bs.

How was Arizona (10-6) a playoff worthy team but Philly (also 10-6) not one?

Is it because Arizona was top 10 in sacks but Philly wasn't?

Just stay honest and the whole article would be a tad bit more accepted.

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If we had any kind of push up the middle last year we would have had twice as many sacks. What we addressed is the interior pass rush. With the new guys hopefully EVERY QB we face won't be able to just step up in the pocket EVERY time our DEs win (which they did a lot) just to have an additional 5 seconds. The only times we had any kind of interior pass rush last year was when we blitzed Dent, Worrilow, or Bartu up the middle.

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Soliai and Jackson are there to help out the run defense . You shouldn't buy into the terminology that they will take up " blockers" allowing our other components to run free and create havoc . In today's NFL you have to have finishers and not just pressures who can't complete the play. Most offense are built on rhythmn and timing quick drops and ball out of hands so while it's nice to have some big boys no one is going to run free and rack up uncontested sacks . You have to beat 1 on 1 battles in matter of seconds and create pressure and finish plays off

FALCONS HAVE ZERO FINISHERS

I am well aware of how completely moronic you are, but I'll bite anyway.

First of all- there's no "n" "rhythm." Consider yourself taught and educated on that.

Second of all- I'm gonna assume that you never played the game. Here's a hint about how ish goes down- big dudes are big dudes. They take up blockers in the run game and the passing game. They keep offensive linemen off linebackers. That's what big dudes do. Now, using basic math, its pretty easy to demonstrate how a 345 lb DT and 306 lb DE command more attention from an offensive line than do a 285 lb DT and a 265 lb DE. Its really simple, but I do realize that you are really stupid, so I'm going slow.

Third of all- the scheme will generate more sacks than any individual will.

Fourth of all- finisher? Just a word. Compared to all the guys who a defender has to tackle...WRs, HBs, TEs, FBs,...in most cases the QB is the slowest and the least athletic. A tackle is a tackle. It doesn't matter if it is written up on the score as a sack (tackling the QB) or a tackle (tackling anybody else.) Finisher. When I hear people use words like "finisher" I automatically think idiot.

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I forgot to add in my original post- let's not forget that Babineaux was an excellent gap penetrator when he was lined up next to Grady. Putting some real beef next to him again, may inject some life back into his pass rush game. He's gettin pretty long in the tooth though, so its a toss up.

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I am well aware of how completely moronic you are, but I'll bite anyway.

First of all- there's no "n" "rhythm." Consider yourself taught and educated on that.

Second of all- I'm gonna assume that you never played the game. Here's a hint about how ish goes down- big dudes are big dudes. They take up blockers in the run game and the passing game. They keep offensive linemen off linebackers. That's what big dudes do. Now, using basic math, its pretty easy to demonstrate how a 345 lb DT and 306 lb DE command more attention from an offensive line than do a 285 lb DT and a 265 lb DE. Its really simple, but I do realize that you are really stupid, so I'm going slow.

Third of all- the scheme will generate more sacks than any individual will.

Fourth of all- finisher? Just a word. Compared to all the guys who a defender has to tackle...WRs, HBs, TEs, FBs,...in most cases the QB is the slowest and the least athletic. A tackle is a tackle. It doesn't matter if it is written up on the score as a sack (tackling the QB) or a tackle (tackling anybody else.) Finisher. When I hear people use words like "finisher" I automatically think idiot.

Right . Well you are wrong I have played the game . The Bengals who have had a solid pass rush don't utilize BIG GUYS they can get to the QB so your theory of needing big guys to get to the QB is just flat out dumb and misguided but what do you expect . The Falcons in past have had trouble finishing off pressure situations. Kroy Bierman is excellent at applying pressure he just doesn't finish off plays . That is what the Falcons lack is a play maker that can get to the QB and doesn't need the help . Soliai and Tyson Jackson are mostly here to help out our run defense . Yes they are going to take up blockers just like Babs and Jerry took up blockers . This is the NFL bud you don't have players running free unless complete breakdowns . Just cause Soliai and Jackson are taking up blockers that doesn't mean there is no one else on other teams Oline not to pick up the pass rushers

Scheme can generate a pass rush similar to how Sea and some of Rex Ryan defense works

but just cause we have added " bulk" to our line doesn't mean **** if we don't have player or players that can win 1 on 1 battles and get to QB

not that complicated

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