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Falcons Offseason News

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Atlanta Falcons talk: How many sacks will the team get from their interior?

 

By Dave Choate May 20, 2018, 8:00pm EDT

The Falcoholic  


 

Atlanta’s got a proud history of quality defensive tackles, but not necessarily huge pass rushing seasons for those defensive tackles. The best single season in terms of sacks for DTs in the last decade came in 2009, when Jonathan Babineaux had six. Interior pressure is a killer, however, so I’m hopeful this year will prove to be a productive one for Atlanta’s defensive tackle rotation.

The Falcons got 7.5 sacks out of their defensive tackles in 2017, with Grady Jarrett (4), Dontari Poe (2.5), and Courtney Upshaw (1) accounting for all of those. In 2018, the Falcons don’t have Poe or Upshaw, meaning that Jarrett is the only pure interior lineman left who had a sack a year ago. What can we expect this year?

The good news is that the team’s current personnel can exceed that total. Jarrett is capable of getting more than four sacks, Jack Crawford had at least two sacks in each of his last three full NFL seasons, and Deadrin Senat and Terrell McClain should be capable of getting one or two each, with Senat having a bit more upside than that. Sacks don’t tell the whole story, and nobody next to Jarrett is going to be as good as Poe this year, but I think this group will be capable of some solid pass rushing production.

So I’ll put Jarrett down for five, Crawford down for three, and Senat and McClain down for one apiece. How about you?

 

© 2018 Vox Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved Sports data © STATS 2018

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It’s now or never for Atlanta Falcons WR Justin Hardy

 

By James Rael@falcoholicjames May 20, 2018, 10:13pm EDT

The Falcoholic  


 

Fact: Justin Hardy’s teeth bleach themselves

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Justin Hardy has a big year ahead of him. “Make or break” would probably be hyperbole here, because Hardy is just looking to keep getting paid to play football. Problem is he may struggle to stay relevant on a team with such a loaded offense, including a shiny new first round draft pick who happens to play his position.

Hardy’s numbers since he was drafted won’t blow your socks off: 62 receptions, 618 receiving yards, and 7 touchdowns. He was prolific at East Carolina. In his junior and senior seasons, he racked up 235 receptions, 2,778 receiving yards, and 18 touchdowns. Pro Football Focus gave him a 2017 grade of 50.5. (That ranked 85th among NFL WRs. It also means he had a “poor” season, according to their metrics.)

As Hardy enters the last year of his rookie contract with the Falcons, he has a lot to play for; if he wants a future at Flowery Branch, it’s now or never. But even if the Falcons don’t intend to re-sign him, 2018 will essentially serve as an audition for 2019 free agency. Hardy needs to show teams he can be a bigger part of the offensive game plan; no small task when you play for the Falcons.

To be sure, it’s never been about talent for Hardy. He’s a sure-handed, smart wide receiver, but playing without a playbook in college made his transition to professional football harder than it needed to be. Some folks also point to Kyle Shanahan’s complex playbook and the transition to a Steve Sarkisian-led offense as additional factors that have kept Hardy from achieving his full potential. No matter the underlying explanations, Hardy’s clock is undeniably ticking. With any luck he will take on a bigger role in 2018, earning a new contract and solidifying his role with the team.

Your thoughts?

 

© 2018 Vox Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved Sports data © STATS 2018

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