My biggest failure as a Falcons blogger is probably the way I've managed to underrate John Abraham.
I mean, sure, the guy gets his press here at The Falcoholic. We're quick to praise him in the game recaps, and he's securing his place in history as we speak. Another seven sacks and he'll be tied for 19th on the all-time list, a well-deserved honor for one of the best defensive ends in recent history.
For all that, I've spent much more time praising Matt Ryan, Brent Grimes, Curtis Lofton and Roddy White than Abraham, who is in the midst of a remarkable year. With eight sacks in 9 games, he's on pace for 15 by the end of the season, well over double his total in 2009. I want to take this time to note that and say that Honest Abe is an enormous part of the Falcons' success in 2010, and we should all bow at his altar.
That out of the way, just why is Abraham having such a good season this year?
Reason #1: He had a good season last year
As orang3b has written, Abe's season in 2009 was actually better than most of us suspected. It may have been true that he was slowed by nagging injuries and the ravages of age, but it wasn't significant.
Fact is, Abe's low sack total disguised the fact that he and Kroy Biermann were the only two guys generating any kind of significant pressure. A frustrated Abe asked for secondary help in the off-season and got it, giving that extra nanosecond for him to get to the cornerback. He's generating the same kind of excellent pressure, but with that additional time he's been able to pile up some sacks in 2010.
Simply put, what you're seeing now is an extension of a successful 2009 campaign that many of us failed to recognize was happening at the time.
Reason #2: He's getting more rest
Dan Pompei at National Football Post mentioned this one in his column yesterday, and it's relevant.
The snap counts we've had in the past demonstrate that Abraham is getting a majority of the snaps, so don't think he's being used as a pass-rushing specialist out of the bullpen, to mix my sports together into a smooth blend. But he is getting a few more plays off than he did in 2009, allowing him to stay fresh and ready to do what needs to be done, which is popping the heads off of quarterbacks like putting a bottle rocket under a Pez dispenser.
Frankly, it's an intelligent way to use him. Chauncey Davis and Jamaal Anderson are vastly superior options against the run, even though Abe's struggles in that arena are greatly exaggerated. Putting him on the field when he can put the biggest hurt on quarterbacks is a smart move indeed.
Reason #3: He's John Abraham
Lawrence Sidbury's era will have to wait. Abraham would like to strengthen his Hall of Fame case a little bit before El Sid comes out from backstage.
Abe's always been this good, despite mixing up-and-down seasons in throughout his career. Funny that he should enjoy his best season in Atlanta (2008 with 16.5 sacks) and be well on his way to his second best here, too.