The Falcons’ pass rush unit has undergone a complete transformation since the new regime took over. If fans look at the depth chart from the 2020 season, they’ll see a totally different group.
Atlanta’s first depth chart released in Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff’s final season boasted an edge unit of Takk McKinley, Dante Fowler, Allen Bailey, Steven Means, Charles Harris, and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner.
Today, the room has gone through a total makeover. The Falcons signed Lorenzo Carter in free agency this offseason, selected Ade Ogundeji in the new regime’s first draft, and doubled up in the most recent NFL draft by grabbing Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone.
For as long as I can remember, the Falcons have struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks. In fact, Atlanta totaled a league-low 18 sacks in 2021, which was a country mile behind the second-to-last team. Moreover, T.J. Watt (22.5) and Robert Quinn (18.5) had more individual sacks than the Falcons’ defense as a whole. However, the expectations haven’t changed just because new faces are in the room.
“The fact we have a lot of new guys doesn’t mean much,” Carter said. “The expectation is high for all of us. There aren’t too many of us who can play at (an NFL) level. Coach makes sure we’re held to a high level and we hold each other to that standard. We’re going to keep pushing each other to get better. We’re gonna hold each other up.”
The Falcons don’t exactly have proven contributors in the building outside of Carter, but you can’t consider what the former Bulldog has done premier edge rusher production. Despite Carter finishing last season with five sacks in his final four games, he’s never accrued double-digit sacks in a single season. Ade Ogundeji flashed at times during his rookie campaign, but he needs to develop a ton before he’s even considered an average pass rusher. And the two rookies have proven nothing at the professional level.
But that isn’t stopping Carter and the rest of the group from stacking days, constantly trying to improve.
“Right now, we’re looking to over-communicate and make sure everyone’s on the same page,” Carter said. “Even if one person’s wrong, if we’re on the same page it’s alright. That’s we’re doing right now, building it brick by brick.”
It’ll be interesting to see this group in action because, on paper, they should still be a bottom-five unit in football; however, stranger things have happened.
Photographer: Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire
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