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Draft behind, Falcons still need to fix broken pass rush


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Draft behind, Falcons still need to fix broken pass rush

Vaughn McClure

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Two linebackers. A strong safety. A tight end. An offensive guard. A wide receiver.

The Atlanta Falcons most definitely addressed some need areas with their six-man draft class. But what about adding a pass-rusher to a team that had a league-low 19 sacks last season?

Falcons coach Dan Quinn spoke about the group of draftable pass-rushers, as a whole.

"I thought this year's class featured some really good inside guys," Quinn said. "And I think that showed all the way through the draft, where last year maybe there were some guys early on that had some big pass-rush background to them. I think each year, there are ebbs and flows in terms of stacked at this position but not as much at this one.

"Certainly at linebacker, felt like the inside guys, especially all the way from Myles (Jack) and Jaylon (Smith) and all the way down at inside linebacker (this year) where maybe the pass rush, although there was some good guys, maybe not as many as another year."

Some figured that maybe in the first round the Falcons would have targeted Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson to bolster the pass rush. The Falcons instead went with strong safety Keanu Neal at No. 17 as Lawson went No. 19 to Buffalo. Quinn's explanation was that Neal's physical presence and coverage ability on third down would help the pass rush.

When the Falcons initially held the 50th overall pick in the second round, pass-rushers Emmanuel Ogbah (No. 32 to Browns), Kevin Dodd (No. 33 to Titans) and Noah Spence (No. 39 to Buccaneers) were off the board. (The Falcons eventually traded down to No. 52 and selected speedy inside linebacker Deion Jones.) They probably wouldn't have taken a chance on the troubled Spence anyway.

Whatever the case, the Falcons still have to proceed with the mindset of fixing a broken pass rush. They'll, of course, rely heavily on second-year player Vic Beasley, who is transitioning to Sam linebacker but expected to be the primary pass-rusher, as long as he perfects his counter moves. The most likely pass-rush foursome as of today would be Beasley and Adrian Clayborn off the edges with newcomer Derrick Shelby and Grady Jarrett on the interior. The Falcons hope to get something out of last year's most costly free-agent acquisition, Brooks Reed, too.

"We added Shelby, we're moving Clayborn out to D-end, we're hoping Reed comes alive," Quinn said. "(Reed) was big-time injured last year (groin surgery). We know he's got pass rush to him. And we'll develop some of the guys to come through.

"It's not just go out (and get a rusher). There's also the guys that are here in the building. We'll get them better, too. You can count on that."

Of course, the Falcons want as much pressure from the front four as possible. Blitzing is an option as well, and the Falcons now have more speed at linebacker to blitz more effectively.

Fourth-round pick De'Vondre Campbell (6-foot-4, 232 pounds) from Minnesota might be a key element in the pass-rush equation. He's been working on his pass-rush skills with former Falcon and pass-rush guru Chuck Smith.

"We saw him a good blitzer," Quinn said of Campbell, who had a team-high four sacks for the Gophers last season. "I know they didn't use him as a down rusher at Minnesota, but we did see the blitz part of it both as an outside guy and an inside guy. And there is a knack to that. Oftentimes, for the rushers, it's the length. I can use my long arms to get past the guy and the ability to close. So that part, I think, is in his game."

So will the Falcons try to make Campbell a down rusher?

"Yeah, I'll probably," Quinn said with laugh. "Knowing me, I'll try for a day and, `OK, go back to linebacker.' But this is the time we try to find out as much as we can about a guy because if you have more unique traits, then we can try and feature them. But I totally see him as an inside 'backer first -- but the inside 'backer that has good pass-rush blitzing ability, and that's a unique guy."

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The lack of a pass rush has been an issue with this team for a while.  Even when we had Abraham they could not find a complementary DE on the opposite side so teams couldn't focus on just Abraham.  Quinn is a DL coach and knows what he has to work with more than any of us.  Then there are many opportunities to pickup other players long before the season begins.  IMO, I didn't see a lot of dominant DL options in this draft that could step in this year and dominate right away. These players come along every blue moon.  Even Carolina uses a combination of DE/DT and LBs to get to the QB.

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A pass rush has 4 "main" parts

1. CBs/Safeties that can cover the long routes --Falcons have that

2 LBs that can cover the short and dump off routes--this Draft addressed this the most

3. Edge rushers -Beasley Clayborn Shelby etc can do this

4.  Inside rush --sometimes a pure rush but mostly to collapse the pocket--I think this is the area that needs help the most (NOW) some say Hageman, Jarrett, and Mbu will develop (given time)  Maybe so---lets hope

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15 minutes ago, falconcrest58 said:

The bottom line is, IF Shaq Lawson turns out to be a double digit sack guy, DQ will look like a fool and be fired along with TD, who has never ever in his 9 yr history produced or found a decent pass rusher....

Quinn's job security is not tied to whether or not Lawson gets 10 sacks.

His job relies on what the Falcons do, not the Bills.

Blank was sitting right there in the room when they pulled Neal's name off the draft board - he made a phone call to him and everything.

Edited by FentayeJones
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22 minutes ago, falconcrest58 said:

The bottom line is, IF Shaq Lawson turns out to be a double digit sack guy, DQ will look like a fool and be fired along with TD, who has never ever in his 9 yr history produced or found a decent pass rusher....

That's just stupid.

Quinn's job is tied to his players, not other teams'.

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30 minutes ago, falconcrest58 said:

The bottom line is, IF Shaq Lawson turns out to be a double digit sack guy, DQ will look like a fool and be fired along with TD, who has never ever in his 9 yr history produced or found a decent pass rusher....

You wish, huh? LMAO

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21 minutes ago, delaigle said:

A pass rush has 4 "main" parts

1. CBs/Safeties that can cover the long routes --Falcons have that

2 LBs that can cover the short and dump off routes--this Draft addressed this the most

3. Edge rushers -Beasley Clayborn Shelby etc can do this

4.  Inside rush --sometimes a pure rush but mostly to collapse the pocket--I think this is the area that needs help the most (NOW) some say Hageman, Jarrett, and Mbu will develop (given time)  Maybe so---lets hope

Exactly!  It all works together in unison.

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32 minutes ago, Tim Mazetti said:

I think the pass rush WAS addressed nicely in the draft and FA. Cover the underneath dump-offs and make the QB hold the ball for an additional half-second...and voila. I am hoping.

Rex Ryan is going to make Shaq into a stud but since Quinn has input on the roster and this is what he seems fit then he will take full responsibility. The Falcons should have drafted Lawson that is my opinion. They should have also took another rusher such as Nassib as well

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3 minutes ago, Old timer fan said:

Rex Ryan is going to make Shaq into a stud but since Quinn has input on the roster and this is what he seems fit then he will take full responsibility. The Falcons should have drafted Lawson that is my opinion. They should have also took another rusher such as Nassib as well

I like Rex but lets be real.

He took a team that had over 50 sacks in 2014 down to 21 sack in 2015  - with a dline that had M Darius, M Williams, J Hughes and K Williams. 

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Just now, FentayeJones said:

I like Rex but lets be real.

He took a team that had over 50 sacks in 2014 down to 21 sack in 2015  - with a dline that had M Darius, M Williams, J Hughes and K Williams. 

Yep and look what he did he went out and assured that he will not do nothing about the poor performance last year and addressed it with Lawson added a run stopping LB and another DT in 3rd. Watch out. Rex will have that defense top 5 of league next year. Not sure Quinn will here

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3 minutes ago, Old timer fan said:

Yep and look what he did he went out and assured that he will not do nothing about the poor performance last year and addressed it with Lawson added a run stopping LB and another DT in 3rd. Watch out. Rex will have that defense top 5 of league next year. Not sure Quinn will here

Not so important if ya can't score, right?

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6 minutes ago, Old timer fan said:

Yep and look what he did he went out and assured that he will not do nothing about the poor performance last year and addressed it with Lawson added a run stopping LB and another DT in 3rd. Watch out. Rex will have that defense top 5 of league next year. Not sure Quinn will here

Quinn made a bad defense better last season. Rex made a great defense a lot worse.

Edited by FentayeJones
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48 minutes ago, falconcrest58 said:

The bottom line is, IF Shaq Lawson turns out to be a double digit sack guy, DQ will look like a fool and be fired along with TD, who has never ever in his 9 yr history produced or found a decent pass rusher....

Shaq Lawson: Average athlete for an end position. Not a natural hip bender and will have to focus on keeping pad level lower to unlock his leverage potential. Shows obvious signs of fatigue as game wears on. At times, is too content to lean on blocks when play isnt run to his side rather than working to discard. Will have snaps where he seems more concerned with imposing his will on blocking rather than diagnosing the play. Does not have the bend or upper body flexion to be edge turner as pass rusher.

These windowlickers continue to think that throwing any defensive end at a pass rush problem will equate to more sacks, like d-linemen -- or defensive ends, specifically -- solely contribute to a defence's (11 players) pass rush. 

Edited by Canadian Jesus
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7 minutes ago, FentayeJones said:

I like Rex but lets be real.

He took a team that had over 50 sacks in 2014 down to 21 sack in 2015  - with a dline that had M Darius, M Williams, J Hughes and K Williams. 

Last season's regression should be plenty enough evidence that Rex wasn't as good as he was touted as on here, but there's still some acting like he's god's gift to defenses.

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7 minutes ago, Old timer fan said:

Yep and look what he did he went out and assured that he will not do nothing about the poor performance last year and addressed it with Lawson added a run stopping LB and another DT in 3rd. Watch out. Rex will have that defense top 5 of league next year. Not sure Quinn will here

But Rex has loads of talent on that defense. They SHOULD be top 5. I want a coach who exceeds expectations rather than just meets them. 

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I think the draft summary covered a lot of what we were surmising from the draft.

They decided the edge talent was subpar this draft, so they went about fixing the team in a different way.  That's a smart move.  We don't know if they'll be right yet or not, but it's solid strategy to say "these guys are no better than what we have, so let's stock up elsewhere this year, so we can hit DE again next year."

My only quibble is they should have taken a DT with this same logic (good draft for DT, legit ones in the 3rd).

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4 minutes ago, AndySG said:

But Rex has loads of talent on that defense. They SHOULD be top 5. I want a coach who exceeds expectations rather than just meets them. 

Dan Quinn didnt exceed my expectations last year did he with you? Mike Smith took a terrible Falcons teams with a rookie QB to playoffs his first year as head coach. With Quinn we collasped with a veteran QB

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9 minutes ago, FentayeJones said:

Quinn made a bad defense better last season. Rex made a great defense a lot worse.

That happens sometimes lot of variables what Rex did was make sure it doesnt happen again. Im fairly certain this year Bills defense will be one of best defenses in league with added talent. Im not sure what to think of this Falcons defense. Tough schedule and still ton of glaring holes. See defense around same

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