Fact: John Abraham wears a size extra small jersey - it makes him feel special
Pass rush is absolutely essential in the NFL. If you're reading this, then you're probably familiar with its importance. As Falcons fans, we're constantly frustrated by a perceived lack of pass rush. We don't get the sacks, so we don't think it's there. Regardless, with Cam Newton, Drew Brees, and Josh Freeman dropping back against the Falcons six times a year, they need to get into the backfield.
If you weren't detoxing off Fleischmann's all season, it was probably apparent to you that the Falcons aren't particularly good at rushing the passer right now. As a team, we notched just 29 sacks in 2012. To be fair, our pass rush wasn't particularly inefficient (3.6 more efficient than league average - 11th best in the league). That means we generated a fair amount of pressure, but for whatever reason, the quarterback was out of reach more often than he should have been. Sure, we pressured him. And sure, we may have derailed his passing motion. But we didn't introduce him to our good friend Mr. Turf enough. Pressures are great. But there's no replacement for putting the opposing quarterback into the ground. There just isn't.
The question now is what we do about it. Kroy Biermann is an incredibly dynamic football player. He's not a starter though. I had a lot of fun watching him in the role Mike Nolan carefully carved out for him. It's entirely possible that the Falcons will cut John Abraham. Not because they have his immediate replacement lined up. Not because it's an easy decision. Simply because he's getting old, and he makes a lot of money, and we need money. It's that simple.
My bottom line is this: you should probably expect a remarkably different defensive end rotation in 2013. It will likely be some combination of guys currently on the roster, one or more drafted player(s), and Dave in his leopard-print banana hammock. I've personally heard various possibilities bantered about. From Calvin Pace (no thank you) to Michael Bennett (26 years old and 9 sacks in 2012), free agency could get interesting. It's also possible we make a wholesale shift to the 3-4.