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How the Atlanta Falcons have gotten pressure and still managed to be underrated.
When your pass rush accounts for 13 sacks in five games and gets fairly consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, you'd think credit would be forthcoming. Because we're talking about the Atlanta Falcons, natch.
A historic struggle to down the passer under Mike Smith, combined with a number of sacks that isn't outright eye-popping, is enough to keep the refrain running. "We need a better pass rush!" we all cry, and never are we satisfied.
I'm not going to deny that the Falcons could better finish their opportunities, pile up more sacks and be more effective at getting to the quarterback. But we're not giving them nearly enough praise for what they have been able to accomplish.
Consider this: The Falcons are 12th in the NFL with 13 sacks. John Abraham, alone, has three sacks, six total knockdowns and eight hurries. The Falcons have gotten contributions from all over, including three sacks from Sean Weatherspoon, 2.5 from Jonathan Babineaux and others. Kroy Biermann has generated quite a few hurries, even if his sack total hasn't shown up.
Again, this is not to deny that the pass rush can get better. Week after week, though, I see fans and analysts contending that the Falcons would turn the corner if they could "just improve the pass rush." That's not the most major issue, though we'd all like to see more consistency. The issue is that the run defense is exceedingly mediocre, which forces the Falcons to make adjustments that aren't necessarily pass rush-friendly.
We'll want to see them maintain this pace over the rest of the season, but I think we're selling the front seven short. Mike Nolan is getting more out of them, and it bodes well for the defense once the Falcons start playing the toughest teams on their schedules.
Your thoughts on the pass rush?