Osi Umenyiora has quickly made his name known as a new leader of the Atlanta Falcons defensive line. Last year, the Falcons had a suffering pass rush where the only threat came from John Abraham. As a surprise to most fans, Abraham was cut to save money. Osi Umenyiora came in with a discounted price to, for all intents and purposes, replace him. But how will this replacement pan out?
Osi is a few years younger at the age of 31. He’s still an older guy, but he does have a few more years left in the tank while John Abraham was at the end of the line. As old and feeble as Abraham was (that was sarcasm) He was very potent mustering up the only pass rush on the defense. He had 10 sacks last season and 6 forced fumbles. Some of those fumbles were at very opportune times. The reason it was such a surprise that Abraham was cut was because even at his age, with such limited snaps as a situational pass rusher, he was able to get to the quarterback consistently. Is that something that Osi can do? That answer would be an outstanding ‘YES.’
Osi, like Abraham, would be a situational pass rusher. He would not be an every down end because he has a few struggles run stopping. Limited snaps won’t slow him down. It won’t allow him to get 20 sacks making him the defensive player of the year he claimed he would be, but it’s enough to make a difference. Every third down, Osi will be there making it hard for quarterback to get a clean shot at a receiver.
One of my favorite things about Umenyiora has to be his ability to strip the ball. I implore you to watch this video. He has an amazing ability to reach out and slap the ball away from a quarterback’s hands even if he is pushed too far away for a sack. I know it’s a highlight real and every player has one of those, but it does show how many ways he can perform. This guy can outrun a back and speed his way to the passer, he can plow his way through a lineman, he can spin, jump, block passes, and above all, he is terrific attacking the ball. He is like a machine when it comes to forcing fumbles. No matter who or how he tackles, look for one hand being on the ball. He may not have as many sacks as Abrahama, but he is a turnover machine and that is what this team likes.
I predict about 11 sacks and 6 forced fumbles. That may be very similar to Abraham’s stats, but I don’t think Abraham could have forced another 6 fumbles. I don’t think he could have another 10 sacks either. Making this switch keeps the position relevant for a longer time. With help from Malliciah Goodman and an improved Jonathan Massaquoi, he may have a little less stress on his shoulders.
What do you guys think of Osi Umenyiora?