Atlanta Falcons best moves of the 2015 offseason – #3


Today, we move on in our “Falcons 50” series, looking at the best offseason moves the Atlanta Falcons have made this year. What ranks at number three?

You can find the full list of “Falcons 50″ posts here.

We are now under two weeks away from the Falcons’ regular season opener with the Philadelphia Eagles. Our “Falcons 50” countdown is into the final stretch, so from here on out we won’t be looking at history, but this upcoming season. It’s been a busy offseason for Atlanta, but there’s been plenty of positive change. What’s the third best move?

No. 3 – Adding talented pass rushers in free agency

The number 22. Depending on who you talk to, it has a different meaning. For fans of the Kansas City Chiefs, they will tell you how Justin Houston put up 22 sacks single-handedly last season. The Chiefs combined for 46 sacks as a team. Talk to a Cowboys fan, and they will tell you that their team gave up an average of just 22 points per game, a vast improvement on the 27 they gave up per game in 2013.

For the Atlanta Falcons, the number 22 represented the amount of sacks the entire team put up. The entire defensive unit. Something had to change. Not being able to rush the passer puts the entire defense under constant strain. The defensive backs were forced to hold their coverages for much longer than they should have; wide receivers are so good in the NFL that with enough time they will get open.

The Falcons had their targets in the draft, but they wasted no time to stock up on pass rushers, dipping into the free agency market. Atlanta added linebackers Brooks Reed and Justin Durant as well as defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and O’Brien Schofield. All four players will play a key role on defense this year.

It’s early, and we haven’t even seen them take a regular season snap with the Falcons, but they have impressed. Clayborn has been one of the stars of the preseason, consistently causing nightmares for offensive linemen along with rookie Vic Beasley. Schofield made his impact against the Dolphins, making four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

With consistent pass rush, the entire defense has played at a higher level. For Atlanta to find success and return to the playoffs, the defense needs to generate constant pressure. So far, so good. And we haven’t even got onto the draft yet. Stay tuned.

Next: NFC South Power Rankings: Preseason Week 4 standings

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