The Atlanta Falcons are last in the NFL in totals sacks, and while part of that is talent, a big part of that is the lack of pass rushing technique on display in Atlanta. Adding a talented pass rushing coach should be at the top of the Falcons priorities this offseason if they want to get the best out of players like Ra'Shede Hageman, Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett long-term.
After spending the last 20 seasons at Missouri, there are a ton of questions as to where Craig Kuligowski is headed. For those who are curious as to who I'm talking about, he's the former defensive line coach for one of the best defensive line factories out there. According to Dave Matter of STL Today, Kuligowski isn't going to be retained by new head coach Barry Odom. The Falcons should swoop in and hire him as their pass rushing coach.
Now, this isn't saying that Brian Cox is inept—he clearly can coach up a run defense—but the past two seasons of meager pass rushing production has shown that the Falcons need someone who can teach better pass rushing techniques. Kuligowski's track record speaks for itself. From 1996 to 2015, Kuligowski has been molding talent at the University of Missouri and turning them into great pass rushers.
The list of players he's worked with follows, and shows just the kind of talent he's been able to develop despite the lack of athleticism some of these players have had. Names like Shane Ray, Markus Golden and Sheldon Richardson stand out in recent years, but Aldon Smith, Ziggy Hood and Justin Smith also were good NFL pass rushers who were ready to be impactful early in their careers due to Kuligowski.
Now imagine the results that Kuligowski could have with some of the Falcons' much more athletic talents. Imagine what he could do with Vic Beasley, Grady Jarrett, Ra'Shede Hageman, Adrian Clayborn and Brooks Reed on his defensive line, assuming Reed is shuffled and Clayborn returns. They are some of the most athletic defensive players the Falcons have had up front in years, and their biggest issues in pass rush aren't stemming from a lack of talent, but rather, a lack of technique.
If the Falcons could land Kuligowski this coming offseason, it would be a coup. And they wouldn't even have to step on Brian Cox's toes with the move. Kuligowski would be someone who could work well in tandem with the ornery personality Cox has, and is a teacher in the ways that Dan Quinn wants. The Falcons should make sure they improve the pass rush talent in the draft and free agency, but adding another coach won't hurt either.
Atlanta's defense has improved as a whole. But for them to take it to the next level, a pass rushing coach like Kuligowski would only be helpful as part of Dan Quinn's staff.