With the season over, it's time to recognize those Falcons who took their game to a new level in 2010, beginning with the defense. Today, it's defensive end John Abraham.
The Predator awoke from his slumber and wreaked havoc on the NFL in 2010.
As the link explains, Abraham was hardly a slouch in 2009, when he only posted 5.5 sacks. It's just that in 2010, given a little more help from the secondary and his fellow defensive linemen, Abe was able to get to the quarterback just a little quicker and close out the play. That resulted in 13 sacks, which placed him among the NFL leaders. That and what Abe himself called the resolution of some personal issues contributed to his best campaign since 2008.
You can't overstate how important Abe was this season, as he constantly blew into the backfield and disrupted plays, adding two forced fumbles and an interception to his sack total. The omnipresent threat of the Predator meant defenses didn't have the luxury of focusing on the pass rushing prowess of Kroy Biermann and the interior of the line.
With no one else on the team even approaching double digit sacks, Abe was once again the team's best pass rusher. Take him out of the equation and the Falcons probably can't even sniff the quarterback, much less consistently pick up sacks. Considering that a lack of pass rush puts more pressure on the secondary, Abraham was and is critical.
We've got one more year to enjoy Abe, and then the Falcons will have to re-up if they want more of him. At that point he'll be going on 34 years old and probably looking for one last multi-year contract, which the team may not be willing to commit to. It's a good time to appreciate his talents.
Final Stat Line: 40 Tackles, 13.0 Sacks, 2 Forced Fumbles, 1 Interception, 4 Pass Deflections