If ever a team needed a boost in the pass rushing department, it is the Atlanta Falcons.
My poor Dirty Birds have been in the gutter for the past three seasons when it comes to getting after the opposing quarterback. They have ranked dead last in racking up sacks for three straight seasons.
Not a great stat for a team trying to scratch its way back to playoff relevance.
The good news is that the Falcons have just signed one of the best QB killers over the past decade in Dwight Freeney. The former Colt great had a nice career comeback in 2015 when he lead Arizona with eight sacks in just eleven games.
Atlanta is hoping they can get that same production out of the possible future hall of famer.
Freeney is 36 years old, so it’s possible he will revert back to his 2013-2014 numbers which show him getting just four sacks total in those two seasons for San Diego. One would have to believe the stout defense surrounding him in Arizona, with guys like Tyrann Mathieu locking up receivers, gave Freeney a lot of advantages.
Needless to say, he won’t have that type of talent around him in the ATL.
Vic Beasley is supposedly the future of the Falcons’ pass rush, and Dan Quinn is hopeful that a veteran like Dwight Freeney can speed up the second year man’s NFL education.
Beasley had a decent rookie year. He didn’t set any records, though he did lead the Falcons in sacks with four.
The presence of a sack happy mentor should do nothing but help the young Vic Beasley. That factor could be incentive enough for Quinn to keep Freeney on the roster even if he doesn’t show out in preseason games.
It would be hard to imagine Dwight Freeney being completely ineffective. The guy has racked 119.5 sacks in 14 seasons, averaging .61 sacks per game. That’s comparable to historic sack psychos Lawrence Taylor and Bruce Smith, both at .71 sacks per game.
If Freeney has lost any of the desire to play professional football, that should be evident in training camp. He just doesn’t come off like a guy who’s looking to coast while cashing a few more game checks before he calls it a career. The guy has played basically full seasons except for 2007 and 2013. Not a sign of a lazy pro athlete, who by the way, has taken a pounding on the defensive line for a decade and a half.
Atlanta is only taking a slight risk on a player that wasn’t in high demand before his run with the Cardinals last year. The team is looking for defensive line help anywhere they can get it. Dan Quinn’s defense did rank better in 2015 than the prior year with Mike Smith running the team. Not hard to improve from the dead last spot of 2014 though.
Still, the pass rush department was worse off than before Quinn arrived. The second-year head coach is banking on a veteran sack master having enough tread on the tires to turn that around in 2016.