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Falcons D-line coach Bryan Cox: Sack total gets media off our back


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Falcons D-line coach Bryan Cox: Sack total gets media off our back

Vaughn McClure

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox doesn’t get too caught up in statistics, but he admitted the 20 sacks recorded by the team through nine games -- one more sack than last season’s league-low total -- has brought about a significant change.

"It’s nice because it stops the media from talking about it," Cox said with sarcasm. "But that ain’t never been my motivation. Our motivation, it’s always been about getting the quarterback off the spot."

The Falcons have figured out how to consistently generate pressure, led by Vic Beasley Jr. with his 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. According to ESPN Stats & Info research, the Falcons lead the league since Week 5 with 16 sacks and 38 contacts with opposing quarterbacks.

Many factors have contributed to the surge. Cox offered his thoughts on some of them:

 

Beasley more focused: Beasley, who dealt with his share of criticism last season as a rookie first-round draft pick, seems to have found his stride in Year 2. He told ESPN.com he has really become student of the game in breaking down film of other great pass-rushers while studying his own technique as well as opposing offensive linemen.

Falcons defensive coordinator Richard Smith, formerly the linebackers coach in Denver, introduced Beasley to Super Bowl MVP Von Miller. Beasley used Miller’s advice to help elevate his game.

Cox notices the difference in Beasley’s approach.

"I think that’s a testament to him having an open mind and a willingness to go and ask the right things, a willingness to be able to draw on some of his experiences, too," Cox said of Beasley. "But also, he’s on Earth right now. You never know where Vic is. He might be on Jupiter. He might be on Mars. He might be on Earth. I’m just happy right now he’s on Earth.’’

 

Freeney's professionalism: Beasley is more grounded because of the time he has spent with seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney, one of the best pass-rushers in NFL history. The 36-year-old Freeney brought his signature spin move and a wealth of knowledge to the Falcons this season. He has recorded three sacks and eight quarterback hits as a nickel pass-rusher.

"I cannot tell you what the presence of having Dwight Freeney has meant to us," Cox said. "That might be the single biggest addition to our team.

"He’s a pro. You talk about having numerous Pro Bowls behind him. You’re talking about studying tape. You talk about running players-only meetings. You talk about getting guys on the same page. You talk about the signal-caller calling out the [stunts]. You’re talking about just a true pro. You’re talking about somebody who is able to teach young guys, and even old guys, 'Hey, here’s what we’re going to do. Here’s how we’re going to do it.'"

An example of Freeney’s professionalism took place a few weeks ago. He suffered a Grade 2 quadriceps tear in a Week 7 loss to San Diego. It was supposed to keep him out at least three weeks. With the Falcons in the midst of a two-game losing streak, Freeney played the very next week at Green Bay.

"At that situation and at that time, we just came off two losses ... that were hard losses because we should have won both of them," Freeney said. "So I felt like we really needed to win the Green Bay game. I felt like we couldn’t afford to not have everybody ready to go. And I felt like I had the most experience against Aaron Rodgers and that offense."

Cox expressed admiration for Freeney’s decision.

"That just probably speaks to who he is; his character and his ability to put team first and take himself out of it," Cox said. "He has been really good for me in terms of temperament and in terms of just having somebody that’s been through a bunch of wars and through the battles, so when I say something, he’s someone who can just carry the message."

 

Clayborn’s relentless effort: The unsung hero of the Falcons' defense might be Adrian Clayborn, the veteran defensive end and former first-round pick of Tampa Bay.

Clayborn is second on the team with 4.5 sacks and leads the Falcons with 14 quarterback hits. His relentless style is evident on a weekly basis.

Does Cox think Clayborn’s contribution is overlooked?

"No," Cox said. "From inside this building, we understand who he is and what he does. That’s all I’m caught up in. Any other noise from anywhere else outside this building, it’s like water off a duck’s back. His mindset, he’s just one of the tougher guys on our team. The way that he approaches it is just professional.

"We’ve had success coming from various people, [Clayborn] included."

Not to be forgotten is nose tackle Grady Jarrett, who had three sacks until the NFL took away one of his two sacks from last week’s Tampa Bay game. Blitzing cornerback Desmond Trufant (two sacks) and outside linebacker Brooks Reed (one) also have contributed to the team’s sack total.

Now it’s up to the Falcons to keep the pressure going against the Eagles and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz this Sunday. Although Wentz is 3-0 at home, he has had some struggles against pressure, particularly in the red zone. Beasley, Freeney, Clayborn and crew have to make sure Wentz remains uncomfortable. And playing without the injured Trufant (shoulder) only makes it more of an emphasis for the Falcons to get after the quarterback.

We'll see if the pass-rushers keep the media silent, as Cox would say.

 

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1 hour ago, droopy1592 said:

Why did they take away Grady's sack? Did they give that one to Beasely ?

 

water off a ducks back? Vic on Jupiter? What?

yeah that jupiter and earth comment doesn't set real well with me, I mean he realizes Vic lost his dad last year and as much as someone can say it won't effect them, it obviously does, right? I can see myself slowly getting on the get rid of cox train, I just don't see him as having made any significant contributions

 

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10 hours ago, papachaz said:

yeah that jupiter and earth comment doesn't set real well with me, I mean he realizes Vic lost his dad last year and as much as someone can say it won't effect them, it obviously does, right? I can see myself slowly getting on the get rid of cox train, I just don't see him as having made any significant contributions

 

Yeah, I really don't see what Bryan Cox has accomplished with our DL players. Whatever improvement seems to have come from having a couple of players who already were good at rushing the passer before they got here. 

Sometimes it's difficult to pin down the specific reason for success or failure, but Beasley looks like he has learned more in three weeks from Freeney than he learned in a year and a half from Cox. And I think that aggravates the hale out of Cox by his comments. He's mentioned before that Beasley is often on a wave length he can't connect with. But with the unit's vastly improved sack numbers, I doubt Cox's job is in jeopardy.

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10 hours ago, papachaz said:

yeah that jupiter and earth comment doesn't set real well with me, I mean he realizes Vic lost his dad last year and as much as someone can say it won't effect them, it obviously does, right? I can see myself slowly getting on the get rid of cox train, I just don't see him as having made any significant contributions

 

Vic is an unusual young man to say the least. He does not fit any stereotype. His spirituality defines him and he has many interests. He's a very serious football player but he's not Ray Lewis...on the other hand why would he want to be? He worked his *** off this summer while devoting himself to community service. He's a fine young man who is curious, smart and not average.

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http://www.espn.com/blog/atlanta-falcons/post/_/id/18426/falcons-defensive-line-coach-bryan-cox-points-blame-at-himself

Cox also regretted the positioning of rookie pass-rusher Vic Beasley. The first-round draft pick from Clemson leads the team with four sacks but hasn’t been dominant. Beasley refused to use playing with a torn labrum all season as an excuse.

"I could have done a better job moving Vic from the right side to the left side earlier," Cox said of Beasley’s transition midway through. "That’s what I’m talking about when I say doing a better job of coaching. I could have helped this guy along a little better seeing it. It took me a little longer to see it than I probably needed to. I think he can utilize his speed better against right tackles in this league than left tackles."

Cox also admitted mishandling veteran Adrian Clayborn, who rushed more inside from defensive tackle than at defensive end.

"I think it was probably dumb on my part, to be honest," Cox said. "I waiting too long to pull the trigger to put him outside. I kick myself with A.C. because I knew what he was. I coached him in Tampa, so I knew he could work outside, but I hesitated too long.

"The plus side of that is Grady [Jarrett] showing up and becoming the player that he’s become. It’s allowed me to have the confidence to move [Clayborn] outside."

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