Getting More Out Of The Falcons Defensive Ends

Grant Halverson

The team's defensive ends have been disappointing at best, outside of John Abraham.

The Atlanta Falcons have all the ingredients you need to put together an elite pass rush. They have a lot of talent—at least on paper—a good defensive coordinator and an aggressive gameplan. They've also played some middling offensive lines.

Despite that, the pass rush hasn't really taken off. I've argued that it's been underappreciated for its impact on opposing quarterbacks, and I stand by that. What gets lost there, though, is that most of the work has been done by John Abraham, the defensive tackles and the linebackers, with occasional help from Kroy Biermann. The rest of the defensive end rotation has vacillated between alright and ghost-like.

This is somewhat baffling, given the combination of talent and production at the ends. Ray Edwards is clearly a useful pass rusher when he's bookending another terrific player, and having Abe across from you is only a cut below Jared Allen. Yet he's been virtually useless at getting to the quarterback despite his pedigree.

Lawrence Sidbury put up a few sacks last season in limited action and looked awfully sharp doing so, but he's been a complete non-factor this year, getting limited snaps and not doing much with them. Cliff Matthews has been similarly quiet when he plays. Jonathan Massaquoi is being brought along slowly, as expected, and that's about it.

What's to be done? Without knowing the dynamics at play here, all I can suggest is that the Falcons continue to give Biermann snaps in place of Edwards in most pass-rushing situations, because he's clearly been the more effective player. The best solution of all—again, assuming Sidbury didn't accidentally pee in Nolan's office or dropkick a homeless person—would be getting El Sid and his clear speed rushing chops in there on occasion to mix things up.

Whatever the solution, the Falcons need to find a way to get a more consistent push out of ends not named John Abraham. With the rest of the defense playing quite well against the pass, this is probably the biggest factor preventing this team from reaching the next level as a defense. You know, aside from that run defense and all.

Your thoughts?

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