Still Defending the Run Fairly Well, the Falcons Must Generate Some Pass Rush

Scott Cunningham

Fact: Osi Umenyiora is the only person on Earth who has a torn a Facebook page.

Pass rushing is an elusive concept. The root of it, how to fix it, when it's necessary, when it's a non-priority, there's simply endless discussion about it. At this point, the Falcons don't have it. I'd be lying if I said things are looking up. I'd be lying if I said the Falcons are almost at a point where they can really pressure the passer. Because they aren't. They aren't.

The Falcons' defensive line took an enormous hit Sunday. Sure, we got the win, and that makes me happy, but losing Kroy Biermann for the rest of the season is going to hurt. Biermann had taken on a particularly non-conventional role with the Falcons, not playing defensive end in the traditional sense, yet thriving in a sort of hybrid linebacker/defensive end/pass rushing specialist/occasional man-to-man tight end coverer-type role.

With Biermann gone, there's a void to fill. There are eager candidates to fill that void, including Jonathan Massaquoi, who impressed during the preseason. But will we see a drop off in production? Possibly. Massaquoi looked competent yesterday, which is a start. He played a good amount, logging 45 defensive snaps. The only other logical option, Malliciah Goodman, logged just 25 defensive snaps. That is fairly telling, in my mind. The Falcons' coaching staff had a choice to make after Biermann went down, and they chose Massaquoi. Even if he's impressed during the preseason, Massaquoi has a steep learning curve ahead. To that effect, we are now a lot thinner at defensive end, which is never a good thing.

Jake Long earned his contract against the Falcons. Osi Umenyiora was hamstrung the entire game, generating just two pressures. Those were the only two pressures surrendered by Long in 60 drop backs. Meanwhile, the Falcons didn't sack Sam Bradford once. Our rookie corners, particularly Robert Alford, arguably took a step backwards against the Rams. Obviously that didn't assist in creating an effective pass rush. Ultimately, despite his paltry completion percentage (58 percent) and resultin lack of efficiency, Bradford amassed over 350 yards passing.

If you watched the game, then you know the Falcons continued to adequately defend the run. The Rams managed only 69 rushing yards. So that's good ...

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