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Will Jonathan Massaquoi Come On Strong In The Second Half?

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For the second straight year, we're left to ask this question.

Kevin C. Cox

Jonathan Massaquoi finished the 2013 season no a hot streak, piling up four sacks in his last five games. That streak gave Falcons fans hope that Mass could be at least a quality complementary pass rusher in 2014, and yours truly predicted he would wind up with eight sacks this season, particularly since I anticipated he'd be largely freed from coverage responsibilities and allowed to rush the passer extensively.

That hasn't happened, at least on a consistent basis. Mass has played fewer than 50% of the snaps in several games thus far,and early in the season he  was being asked to drop back into coverage far too often. In his limited pass rushing opportunities, per Pro Football Focus, he's been one of the most productive pass rushers in the NFL on a per snap basis. His usage has been, to put it mildly, infuriating.

If the Falcons want to rush the passer effectively in the second half of the season, they'll need to find more snaps for Mass, who still has an outside chance of hitting that eight-plus sack mark many of us projected. Even if he doesn't deliver on the numbers, having someone with his skill coming off the edge forces offenses to compensate. There's a good chance thathe will get increased playing time and that he'll do good work with it.

Mass is only under his extremely affordable rookie contract for one more season, so it makes sense for the Falcons to figure out what he's capable of with more playing time. If he can be an effective complementary pass rusher for whatever high-upside rookie or expensive veteran the Falcons attempt to grab next season, it would go a long ways toward improving one of the team's chronic Achilles heels.

Your expectations for Massaquoi in the second half?