It’s been quite some time since the Atlanta Falcons‘ defensive unit has steadily put heat on opposing quarterback. Has the team found some solutions?
It has been an issue that has surrounded this team’s defensive unit for far too long. And despite the fact that this team had the league’s individual leader in this category this past season, it’s remains a problem area for Dan Quinn’s club.
Over the past five seasons combined (2012-16), no team in the league has totaled fewer sacks than the Atlanta Falcons. The team’s 136 quarterback traps are 12 fewer than the Oakland Raiders, who have the second-fewest sacks over that span. This past year, the club saw former defensive end/turned outside linebacker Vic Beasley lead the NFL with 15.5 sacks. As a team, the Falcons got to opposing quarterback just 34 times. This is a franchise that hasn’t racked up at least 40 sacks in a season since 2004.
But there’s work being done to improve this short coming. D. Orlando Ledbetter of AJC.com talks about Beasley’s recent attendance at a “pass rush summit” hosted by Denver Broncos star Von Miller recently at Stanford University. Quinn and the club had to be encouraged by defensive tackle Grady Jarrett’s three-sack performance in Super Bowl LI. Atlanta used a first-round pick in April on UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley. And the team signed two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe during free agency.
Unfortunately, no matter what this team has done over the last few years hasn’t seemed to help. It has to be frustrating for Quinn and his staff. But it’s an issue that predates his arrival in 2015. And when you’re defensive unit allows 46 offensive touchdowns in 16 games – including 31 scores through the air – you better find a way to resolve this problem in a division loaded with big-play receivers and quarterbacks.
Russell S. Baxter covers the Atlanta Falcons for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter at @baxfootballguru. Looking for more Falcons news and features? Like our Falcons Facebook page HERE and also follow @spot_falcons on Twitter.