The Falcons have, as we noted earlier today, done an impressive job of rushing the passer despite not having Takk McKinley almost all year. They’ll have to go forward without him after he was released and picked up by the Bengals off of waivers, but in the short term it appears they’ll also have to do so without Dante Fowler Jr.
The veteran pass rusher has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list by the team, according to...well, the team.
We have placed Dante Fowler on the reserve/COVID-19 list.— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) November 14, 2020
This is not a fatal blow to the Falcons pass rush. Last week against the Broncos, Atlanta managed 21 pressures against a skittish Drew Lock and so-so Broncos offensive line without Takk or Fowler, and while the challenges get much tougher from here on out, they’ve assembled a pretty decent group and they’re blitzing more often.
That doesn’t mean this won’t be a loss, though, as Fowler is second on the team in pressures (with 17, just behind Grady Jarrett with 19) and has been a capable run defender all year long. The team will have to lean heavily on their rotation against the Saints in Week 11, as there’s virtually no chance Fowler will be suiting up for that one in 8 days, and they could be without him for longer than that. It’s hardly ideal to be missing one of your better pass rushers when you’re heading into the toughest part of the schedule, so expect the team to lean more heavily on blitzes from Foye Oluokun and Deion Jones (6 combined pressures in Week 9) and their best players up front in the short term.
We’ll hope Fowler is healthy and back on the field soon.