Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn promised to revamp the defense before he was hired. I wasn’t in the room when he interviewed with Thomas Dimitroff and Arthur Blank. I wasn’t there, but I’m certain he made that promise. I’m certain he looked into Blank’s eyes and promised it’d be a different unit after a year or two. Because absent such a promise, they would’ve never hired him.
Fast forward three years and Quinn has delivered. He’s effectively kept his promise. Look no further than the much improved pass rush for evidence of this fact. It is much improved, isn’t it? Isn’t it?! Well, to be frank, that depends on who you ask.
PFF recently released their final preseason team pass rush rankings. The Falcons didn’t land where you’d expect them to. They ranked 16th. That’s ... mediocre. Here’s some of what PFF writer Gordon McGuinness had to say about the Falcons pass rush.
The key for the Falcons in 2017 will be how two former first-round draft picks perform in 2018. After being drafted with the eighth overall selection of the 2015 draft out of Clemson, Beasley racked up 16 sacks in his second season in the league. His PFF grade didn’t match that though, with a lot of his sacks coming as a result of unblocked pressure and in clean-up duty [...] 2017 first-round draft pick McKinley did impress, particularly in the first half of the season, and finished his rookie campaign with eight sacks, four hits and 27 hurries [...]
This assessment seems a little harsh. It basically assumes Beasley was never as good as his sophomore campaign suggested. We already know the Falcons intend to stop using Beasley as a linebacker, returning him to his bread and butter gig as an edge. So even if he can’t put up 16 sacks in 2018, it’s fair to expect him to turn in a bounce back year. Takk may not be a household name yet, but give him another 16 regular season games and, assuming he continues on his current trajectory, he certainly will be.
I just can’t see how the Falcons pass rush, even if it’s still up and coming, should rank 16th. That’s a decidedly mediocre view of a unit that arguably deserves top ten consideration. But maybe I’m just a homer and can’t see the forrest for the trees. What do you think? Discuss!