John Abraham Needs to Rush the Passer More


Brian VanGorder wasn’t the greatest defensive coordinator in Atlanta Falcons history. Nobody aside from Auburn fans would argue that. He served his purpose for a couple years with the Falcons. But his play-calling was extremely suspect, and by suspect I mean extremely predictable. Vanilla. Unimaginative. You get the gist of what I’m trying to say.

The one thing that VanGorder did that was creative was to use our best pass-rusher in coverage. I’m all for blitzing the safety, or sometimes dropping a lineman into coverage. But that lineman can never be the best pass-rusher the team has.

According to the Football Outsiders 2012 Almanac, John Abraham dropped into coverage on a zone-blitz more than any defensive lineman in the NFL.

There are a couple hundred defensive linemen in the NFL. Not one of them dropped into coverage more than Abraham.

That’s disturbing. I know that John Abraham is extremely athletic, very versatile, and his veteran status makes him extremely smart at being productive, no matter what his role in the play is. However, there is no good reason in the world for Abraham to be dropped into coverage routinely, let alone more than any lineman in the league. The Falcons had one devil of a time generating a pass rush in 2011. Abraham only had 9.5 sacks last year while dropping a good bit. If he rushes more consistently, I see no reason he can reach double digit sacks in 2012 despite his advance football age. Not only will his rush take up a blocker and a chip blocker at the minimum, but it will help the rest of the line be productive. Occasionally sending Abraham into coverage is a good idea, but he is certainly more valuable as a pass-rusher. It’s what the Falcons need the most.