Cover 9@9: Finally, sacks are important

The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter is at the Falcons facility and joins Noah Coslov to talk about the team’s offensive line, questions at linebacker and changes in Dan Quinn.

Atlanta Falcons inside linebacker Joplo Bartu (59) sacks New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Atlanta Falcons inside linebacker Joplo Bartu (59) sacks New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) during the first half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

1. Project Pass Rush. The Falcons’ highly classified “project pass rush” received a major shot in the arm when sackmaster Dwight Freeney agreed to a one-year incentive laden deal with the team on Tuesday evening.

For the past couple of years, during the end of the Mike Smith administration and early on here in Quinn’s tenure, the media has been repeatedly told that “sacks are not important.”

It was pointed out that a pass rush can be effective by “getting the quarterback of his spot.”

So, in fairness, we started tracking quarterback hits and hurries more closely. By tracking sacks, hurries and quarterback hits you can come up a pass-rush ratio. The Falcons pass rush ratio has still been porous.

Here’s the Falcons’ 2015 pass rush ratio.

By signing Freeney, the Falcons are saying that while hurries and hits are nice, there’s nothing like putting the opposing quarterback on his butt.

The Falcons have to hope that this works out better than the last two times they tried to signed a free agent to help the pass rush. The Ray Edwards and Osi Umenyiora signings didn’t create much pressure.

Here are some of the stories from the offseason on the Falcons’ “Project pass rush”:

PROJECT PASS RUSH

Dan Quinn pressing all buttons to create a pass rush

How does drafting Keanu Neal help the pass rush?

DL line coach Bryan Cox: Hageman needs to improve his play

LB coach Jeff Ulbrich: ‘Cream will rise’ at linebacker for Falcons

Defensive coordinator Richard Smith pleased with early progress of the defense

Falcons still have a spot for DT Jonathan Babineaux

Dwight Freeney 95 percent certain that he will play in 2016

Falcons working 80 percent of time on pass rush

Weatherspoon on Freeney: ‘He still has it’

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Vic Beasley (44) and Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56) work during an NFL football practice Sunday, July 31, 2016, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Vic Beasley (44) and Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56) work during an NFL football practice Sunday, July 31, 2016, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

2. Freeney’s deal.  Freeney’s one-year inventive-laden deal is reportedly worth as much as $4 million. The seven-time Pro Bowler will be available to the media on Thursday.  The Falcons had 19 sacks last season, which ranked last in the NFL.  In fact, the Falcons’ pass rush has finished 30th, 31st and 32nd, respectively, in sacks over the past three seasons. Freeney, 36, had eight sacks in 11 games with Arizona last season and should help second-year linebacker/defensive end Vic Beasley develop. Beasley, the eighth-overall pick in the 2015 draft, is the future of the Falcons pass-rush.

3.  Schultz approves of this deal. The team hasn’t commented on the deal. They like to wait until the contract is signed and approved by the league first. But in the meantime, AJC columnist Jeff Schultz likes this signing.

4. Freeney in action. Before playing with Arizona last season, Freeney spent two seasons in San Diego and the previous 11 with the Indianapolis Colts. Here’s are some photos of him over the years. 

5. Weatherspoon on Freeney. Back when Freeney visited the Falcons we asked linebacker Sean Weatherspoon about him. They played together last season and helped the Cardinals reach the NFC championship game. Here’s what Spoon had to say. 

6. Move should help Beasley. With Freeney, the Falcons can play Beasley and Freeney at opposite defensive ends in the nickel package. There should still be enough snaps for Adrian Clayborn to rush some, too. Freeney played 255 snaps last season.

7. Freeney ranks third of current players. Freeney’s 119.5 career sacks ranks him 19th on the all-time list, just behind Clyde Simmons (121.5) and Simeon Rice (122). Freeney ranks third in sacks behind Green Bay’s Julius Peppers (136) and Denver DeMarcus Ware (134.5) among current players.

8. TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE

August

3 – Wednesday, public practice, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

4 – Thursday, public practice, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

5 – Friday, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Grayson High School

6 – Saturday, players off.

7 – Sunday, public practice, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

8- Monday, public practice, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

9 – Tuesday, public practice, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

10 – Wednesday, public practice 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

11 – Thursday vs. Washington 7 p.m. (Georgia Dome).

12 – Friday, closed practice.

13 – Saturday, players off.

14 – Sunday, public practice, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

15 – Monday, public practice, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

16 – Tuesday, public practice: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

9. Depth chart. Here’s the updated training camp depth chart after Freeney’s deal:

OFFENSE

WR 11 Julio Jones, 16 Justin Hardy, 87 Devin Fuller, 18 Jordan Leslie

LT 70 Jake Matthews, 76 Tom Compton

LG 67 Andy Levitre, 71 Wes Schweitzer, 79 Shabaz Ahmed

C   51 Alex Mack, 63 Ben Garland, 69 Jake Reed

RG 65 Chris Chester, 68 Mike Person, 64 Collin Rahrig, Michael Huey

RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 72 Bryce Harris, 66 Laurence Gibson

TE 83 Jacob Tamme, 80 Levine Toilolo, 81 Austin Hooper, 86 D.J. Tialavea, 82 Joshua Perkins, 49 Arthur Lynch

WR Mohamed Sanu, 14 Eric Weems, 19 Aldrick Robinson, 15 Nick Williams, 7 David Glidden, 85 J.D. McKissic, 6 Corey Washington, 89 Chris King

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub, 4 Matt Simms, 13 Sean Renfree

RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 28 Terron Ward, 35 Gus Johnson, 20 Brandon Wilds

FB 42 Patrick DiMarco, 39 Will Ratelle

NICKEL DEFENSE

RDE Dwight Freeney, 99 Adrian Clayborn, 50 Brooks Reed, 91 Courtney Upshaw, 75 Brandon Williams

DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 94 Tyson Jackson, 95 Jonathan Babineaux, 96 Nordly Capi, 98 Cory Johnson

DT 90 Derrick Shelby, 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 92 Joey Mbu, 74 Chris Mayes

LDE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 48 Ivan McLennan, 93 Malliciah Goodman, 52 Tyler Starr, 54 Efe Obada

LB 56 Sean Weatherspoon, 59 De’Vondre Campbell, 41 Philip Wheeler, 46 Torrey Green

LB 55 Paul Worrilow, 45 Deion Jones, 53 LaRoy Reynolds

RCB 23 Robert Alford, 43 DeMarcus Van Dyke, 29 C.J. Goodwin, 33 Devonte Johnson, 32 Jalen Collins (Suspended for 4 games)

NCB 34 Brian Poole,  29 C.J. Goodwin

LCB 21 Desmond Trufant, 25 Akeem King, 38 David Mims II, 39 Jordan Sefon

FS 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie, 20 Sharrod Neaseman, 34 Brian Poole

SS 22 Keanu Neal, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 40 Damian Parms

BASE 4-3

RDE  99 Adrian Clayborn, Dwight Freeney, 91 Courtney Upshaw, 71 Brandon Williams, 96 Nordly Capi

DT  77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 95 Jonathan Babineaux, 98 Cory Johnson

NT 97 Grady Jarrett, 94 Tyson Jackson, 92 Joey Mbu, 74 Chris Mayes

LDE  90 Derrick Shelby, 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 93 Malliciah Goodman, 52 Tyler Starr

WLB 56 Sean Weatherspoon, 59 De’Vondre Campbell, 46 Torrey Green, 48 Ivan McLennan

MLB 55 Paul Worrilow, 45 Deion Jones, 53 LaRoy Reynolds

SLB 44 Vic Beasley, 41 Philip Wheeler, 50 Brooks Reed, 91 Courtney Upshaw,

RCB 25 Akeem King, 32 Jalen Collins, 23 Robert Alford, 29 C.J. Goodwin, 33 Devonte Johnson, 38 David Mims II

LCB 21 Desmond Trufant, 43 DeMarcus Van Dyke, 39 Jordan Sefon, 34 Brian Poole

FS 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie, 20 Sharrod Neaseman

SS 22 Keanu Neal, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 40 Damian Parms

SPECIALISTS

K 3 Matt Bryant, 1 Nick Rose

KO 5 Matt Bosher

P 5 Matt Bosher

KR 26 Tevin Coleman, 87 Devin Fulller, 14 Eric Weems,  16 Justin Hardy, 7 David Glidden, 85 J.D. McKissic

PR 26 Tevin Coleman, 87 Devin Fuller, 14 Eric Weems, 85 J.D. McKissic, 16 Justin Hardy, 7 David Glidden

90-MAN ROSTER ANALYSIS — POSITION BY POSITION

OFFENSE

Atlanta Falcons 90-man roster analysis: Quarterbacks

Atlanta Falcons 90-man roster analysis: Running backs

Atlanta Falcons 90-man roster analysis: Wide receivers

Atlanta Falcons 90-man roster analysis: Tight ends

Atlanta Falcons 90-man roster analysis: Offensive line

DEFENSE

Atlanta Falcons 90-man roster analysis: Defensive line

Atlanta Falcons 90-man roster analysis: Linebackers

Atlanta Falcons 90-man roster analysis: Defensive backs

Atlanta Falcons 90-man roster analysis: Specialists

 


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