Posts Tagged ‘Abraham’

Ranking the Falcons 2014: No. 21 Osi Umenyiora

July 18th, 2014 Comments off

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Osi Umenyiora

I’m counting down the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, and let’s continue with 21st-ranked player: defensive end Osi Umenyiora.

To read the methodology I devised to rank the Falcons players, click here.

Total Score: 54/100

Last year’s rank: 8
Player Grade: 57/100
Teams he is starter: 10 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 1 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 30 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +1
Positional Bonus: +4

When the Falcons brought in Umenyiora as a free agent last offseason, they likely envisioned him as a younger, cheaper option than long-time Falcons pass-rushing stalwart John Abraham.

Umenyiora was after all more than three years younger than Abraham and over the course of the two-year deal he signed with the Falcons was expected to only count $8.5 million against their cap. Abraham on the other hand, was slated to count roughly $12.3 million against the team’s cap over the course of 2013 and 2014, making Umenyiora roughly a two-thirds of the cost.

Thus when Umenyiora finished 2013 with 7.5 sacks, about three-quarters of the average of Abraham (9.8 sacks) over his seven seasons in Atlanta, it seemed superficially like a successful bargain. However, diving a bit deeper below the surface revealed that Umenyiora’s production was significantly less than Abraham.

Using the metrics of Moneyball, my own review system, Umenyiora finished the season 12.5 “positive pass rushes” or PPRs, which include sacks, pressures and hits.

In contrast, Abraham earned 33 PPRs in his final season in 2012. That came off seasons of 31.5 PPRs in both 2009 and 2011, with 23 in 2010. So while the Falcons were paying two-thirds of the cost, they were more closely getting one-third of the production. And that lack of production contributed significantly to the fact that the Falcons finished dead-last in third-down defense in 2013.

The Falcons appear hopeful that Umenyiora will be better in 2014. At the tail end of last season, he was relegated to a situational pass-rusher coming onto the field in nickel situations. Unlike the rest of the Falcons defenders, who will alternate between three and four-man sets, Umenyiora’s role will strictly be a defensive end in a four-man front.

The goal being that should keep him fresher, which should equal more production. Whether it is effective remains to be seen. Umenyiora had a similar role with the New York Giants in 2012, but it did not pay dividends and prompted the team to let him walk after the season.

If the Falcons can’t get increased production from Umenyiora and others this year, it’s very likely that there will be a dramatic revamp of the pass-rush unit next season. And then Umenyiora’s brief time in Atlanta will draw more comparisons to that of Ray Edwards than Abraham.

Categories: Features Tags: , , ,

Team Needs: Searching for the Next John Abraham at Defensive End

February 4th, 2014 Comments off

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Massaquoi

The pass rush of the Atlanta Falcons has been a problem area for a number of years.

Expectations were reasonably high that the Falcons could potentially upgrade their pass rush with the switch from defensive end John Abraham to Osi Umenyiora last year. Unfortunately, Umenyiora’s production wasn’t in the same ballpark as Abraham from the previous year. Falcon fans had to watch as Abraham put together a Pro Bowl season with the Arizona Cardinals, while the Falcons finished second-to-last in the NFL in sacks.

Upgrading that pass rush will likely be one of the team’s biggest priorities this offseason, alongside their needs on the offensive line. While the Falcons could opt to release Umenyiora due to the disappointing 2013 he had, it’s more than likely that they’ll retain him and move him into a situational role similar to what he had with the New York Giants prior to his arrival in Atlanta.

One reason to release Umenyiora is due to the presence of Jonathan Massaquoi, who midway through the year arguably started to play at a level on par with Umenyiora. Massaquoi wasn’t ready for the starting role that was thrust upon him last year due to the injury to Kroy Biermann, but as a situational player he could be a solid fit, and a much cheaper and younger one than Umenyiora. Of the young defensive ends on the roster, Massaquoi possesses the most upside and the teaching that new defensive line coach Bryan Cox could provide, could help bring that out of him in 2014.

Biermann is another player that the Falcons can count on to bolster their pass rush in 2013. He is coming off a torn Achilles that sidelined him for practically the entire season. While never a great pass rusher, his production as a pass rusher in previous years was pretty consistent and frankly, any little bit will help the Falcons.

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Why Asante Samuel is Worth Keeping in 2014

January 30th, 2014 Comments off

 Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Asante Samuel’s status for 2014 doesn’t look promising

If you happen to be a regular listener to the FalcFans Podcast or one of my followers on twitter, then you probably know of my strong feelings about Atlanta Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel and how his value to this team is underrated.

Samuel is likely to be released this offseason. While there have been no obvious indicators of his impending release, many signs points toward it. Samuel is set to cost the team between $5.1 million (according to the AJC) and $5.7 million (according to SpotRac) in cap space in 2014 (another says $5.25 million). For the record, the discrepancy in Samuel’s exact 2014 cap hit is based around conflicting reports on the size of the roster bonus(es) Samuel is set to receive this fall. Regardless of the exact amount, the cost isn’t quite so prohibitive, except for the fact that . Thus paying nearly $6 million for a player that might just be a backup is jarring.

Samuel is entering the final year of the three-year deal he signed with the Falcons upon his acquisition via trade before the 2012 season. And dependent on that source, his release will free up between $4 and $5 million in cap space this year. Samuel just turned 33 at the beginning of January and there aren’t very many cornerbacks over the ages of 31 and 32 that are playing at a high level Throw in the fact that Samuel was benched for the final four games of the 2013 season to make way for young up and comers like Robert Alford, it makes a lot of sense why Samuel will be cut.

Alford is an up and coming player and the Falcons have batted 1.000 when it came to their second round picks becoming starters in their second seasons. Samuel’s presence on the roster could inhibit the Falcons chances to get Alford on the field. Although I think that might be a bit overrated, but more on that later.

But first, let’s remove Robert Alford from the equation. Because how good a player he is has nothing to do with assessing Samuel’s real value. And that value is significant.

There is no doubt that Samuel is coming off a down year. His Pro Football Focus grade was -0.2, with a coverage grade of -2.0 last season, indicating slightly below average production. It clearly wasn’t a very productive year. After recording five interceptions and 19 pass breakups in 2012, that production fell to one and three, respectively, in 2013.

But one of the issues that raises is the difference between production and ability. What sites like Pro Football Focus really measure is production, not ability. Ability is better gauged watching and reviewing games. In terms of production, there was a steep drop for Asante in 2013. But in terms of ability, that drop was negligible.

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Categories: News Tags: , , , ,

Tony Gonzalez Will Play for Team Rice in Pro Bowl

January 22nd, 2014 Comments off

It was announced Tuesday that Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez would get the chance to play in the Pro Bowl after his final season in the NFL, as a replacement for San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, who pulled out from the contest. Gonzalez will be the lone representative of the Falcons to play in Sunday’s all-star game in Hawaii, after being voted as an alternate. Gonzalez was selected to ‘Team Rice’ on Wednesday night in the game’s new format of a live draft.

The new format has two respective captains, Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, select their teams regardless of conference affiliation over the course of two nights. Gonzalez was selected by Rice’s team alongside other skill position players on Wednesday night. He will play alongside Jimmy Graham at the tight end position on a team that features quarterback Drew Brees, running back LeSean McCoy and defensive end John Abraham among others.

This will mark Gonzalez’ 14th trip to the Pro Bowl, tying the NFL record alongside offensive lineman Bruce Matthews and defensive tackle Merlin Olsen. He has made the Pro Bowl four consecutive seasons, with his the only time he did not make the Pro Bowl since 1999, being his first year in Atlanta in 2009. He was also honored as part of the All-Decade team of the 2000s, which was announced in 2010.

Gonzalez plans to retire this offseason after 17 years in the NFL, playing his last five with the Falcons, after beginning his career with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1997. Gonzalez ranked second on the team in receptions (83) and receiving yards (859) but led the team with 8 touchdowns. He finishes his career ranked second all-time in career receptions (1,325), fifth in yards (15,127) and sixth in receiving touchdowns (111). For tight ends, he ranks first in each category. He also finishes his Falcon career ranked fourth in receptions (409), eighth in yards (4,187), and tied for fifth in receiving touchdowns (35) on the team’s all-time list. His career mark in receptions tops the team’s all-time list of tight ends.

Gonzalez will be eligible to be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019, and is widely expected to be a first-ballot entree.

Categories: News Tags: , , , ,

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 44 “Tampa Bay is a Dumpster Fire”

October 25th, 2013 Comments off

Allen and I are joined once again by Rashad James, making his second consecutive appearance on the podcast to discuss the Atlanta Falcons win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7. We discuss some of the standout players from the game including William Moore, Malliciah Goodman, Harry Douglas, and Desmond Trufant. We also take a look at the play of the Falcons young linebackers and whether or not they have what it takes to turn into good NFL linebackers. In their preview of Week 8, we discuss how much impact a healthy Steven Jackson can bring, whether or not there needs to be changes made at punt returner, how the Falcons left tackle matches up with John Abraham, and whether the Falcons defense can take advantage of Arizona’s lackluster offensive attack.

Ep. 44: Tampa Bay is a Dumpster Fire [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 1 minute

Allen writes for as well as the Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Rashad can be found on twitter: @SaucedUp_Boss

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at:

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL:

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 31 “Thank God for Jake Delhomme”

July 2nd, 2013 6 comments

This week, Allen and I are once again joined by Tom Melton to discuss some of the upcoming roster and depth chart battles we expect to see in Atlanta Falcons training camp. We break down the battle along the right side of the offensive line as well as what could shake up with the battle for key depth positions at quarterback and tight end … We look at every level of the defense as battles rage at all the position groups. Tom weighs in on how Richard Seymour could help the Falcons … We discuss the depth at linebacker along with what if any of the young players could step up to help the Falcons pass rush … We dive into whether or not this year’s defensive line will live up to some past units and whether Falcon fans have been spoiled by past success up front … It wouldn’t be a Tom Melton episode without some patented Dunta Robinson bashing … We discuss their favorite young punter in the NFL and his name isn’t Matt Bosher … We discuss whether the loss of Tyson Clabo or John Abraham will hurt the team more and then reminisce on some of our favorite Predator moments over the years … Peter Konz’s future is discussed as well as Justin Blalock’s tuba playing … Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers’ values are also discussed. Note: This episode does contain explicit language, so it is NSFW!

Ep. 31: Thank God for Jake Delhomme [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 3 minutes

Allen writes for as well as the Bleacher Report. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Tom Melton can be found on twitter: @TMeltonScouting, and also writes for his own draft blog and NFL Draft Monsters.

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at:

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL:

Could Eric Winston Help Falcons?

June 27th, 2013 Comments off

Eric Winston

It’s a question that has been raised by AJC columnist Jeff Schultz in his musing about which available free agents could come in and help the Falcons. The simple answer is yes, offensive tackle Eric Winston can help the Falcons. He is one of the premier right tackles in the league, but for whatever reason hasn’t been able to stick in his last two stops in Kansas City and Houston despite solid production.

Winston is basically a similar player to Tyson Clabo. Not a guy that is an overpowering player, but has good size, strength, and knows how to use leverage. He is also very adept in the zone-blocking scheme, consistently able to get downfield and hit his assignments, which has helped spring backs like Jamaal Charles and Arian Foster to generate big runs on the second level. Winston turns 30 in November, making slightly less than two years younger than Clabo, who the Falcons cut in early April.

Schultz discussed the possibility of defensive end John Abraham’s return to Atlanta in the same article. But in truth, while a pass rusher of Abraham’s skill would certainly help the Falcons in that arena, it would be done so with sacrificing development of younger players. It’s true that none of the Falcons young pass rushers that Abe would likely supplant, such as Cliff Matthews or Stansly Maponga, are likely to become as skilled as he is, even at his relatively ancient age of 35. But the Falcons won’t do it as Schultz notes because it would mean less snaps for players like Matthews, Maponga, as well as Jonathan Massaquoi and Malliciah Goodman, who many believe do have significant upside worth developing. The Falcons just don’t appear interested in investing the money it would take to keep Abraham for what is essentially a one-year solution.

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Scouting Report: Osi Umenyiora

June 19th, 2013 Comments off
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Osi Umenyiora

Last week, I broke down Falcons free agent pickup in running back Steven Jackson. This week it’s time to look at the team’s other big off-season addition in defensive end Osi Umenyiora.

Umenyiora has big shoes to fill, because most are expecting him to take the mantle from John Abraham as the team’s top and most feared pass rusher. Abraham gave the Falcons six and a half excellent seasons, logging 68.5 sacks, which tops their all-time list among official stats. Claude Humphrey, unofficially has 94.5 career sacks in a Falcons uniform, but his career ended before sacks became an official stat in 1982.

Umenyiora is coming off a down year in New York with only 6 sacks, tying his career low since he became a starter in 2004. But the Falcons are optimistic that he can have a resurgence with a change in scenery, particularly given that Atlanta is the place that Osi calls home in the off-season. Similar to Abraham, a native of South Carolina, after moving down from the Big Apple, playing in front of friends and family was perhaps a factor in his success.

But first we should take a look at Osi’s skillset. Here’s my breakdown, with a grading system based on a ten-point scale: 1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite.


Strength: 5.5 – He knows how to convert speed to power in order to bull rush off the edge. He shows the ability to use that power move to work the unsuspecting tackle back into the quarterback. But he’s not overly strong and struggles to disengage from blocks, particularly in the run game. His lack of strength shows when he is facing bigger tackles that are also technically sound.

Quickness: 7.5 – Osi still possesses a good first step off the edge that is maximized when he can line up in wider techniques. When he can pin his ears back, he is a formidable speed rusher off the edge that does most of his damage that way. But he no longer has the explosive burst he once did and isn’t a threat to beat the better tackles in the league purely with his speed.

Pass Rush: 8.0 – He makes his money as a pass rusher that has an array of moves to get to the quarterback. As mentioned before, he shows he can bull rush from time to time. He also has showcased an inside counter move, which is often a spin. It’s not quite on par with say Dwight Freeney, but it can be effective from time to time. He’s at his most comfortable rushing the quarterback when his ears are pinned back and he can go out and hunt using his edge speed.

Point of Attack: 5.0 – Umenyiora is not particularly strong or good at the point of attack. While he can be effective using his hands to disengage from tight ends and make stops there, most of his plays against the run come in pursuit and out in space. He’s not a guy you want trying to hold or set the edge when teams run at him, because he rarely makes plays there.

Recognition: 6.0 – At times he seems to be a bit too dialed in trying to get upfield and will misread some plays, such as draws and screens. He has enough athleticism to drop into coverage and be effective in the flat and able to keep things in front of him, but he doesn’t have quite the experience or awareness to think he’d be very effective doing that to a large degree.

Motor: 5.5 – Osi’s motor seems to run hot and cold at times. There are times when he’s dialed in and he’s running all over the field, and there are other times where you see him jogging quite a bit and seems disinterested, especially when he’s asked to try and play the run a lot. It’s not to suggest his motor is poor, it’s just that he’s not going to be relentless and is more willing to pick and choose his spots.

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Takeaways From Last Week – May 20

May 20th, 2013 Comments off

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Freeman looks geared for failure

The Tampa Bay Bucs are going to be an interesting team to watch in 2013. Josh Freeman is entering the final year of his contract, and recently it was reported that the Bucs wouldn’t mind seeing rookie Mike Glennon get an opportunity.

How Josh Freeman handles this sort of adversity could impact the next five years of that franchise. I think Freeman is a talented quarterback, but I’ve never thought he had the intangibles to be a top-level starter. I liked Mike Glennon a lot, as he was the highest-rated quarterback in this draft class for me.

But I don’t think Glennon will really work as a rookie starter. The main issues I had with Glennon was that he wasn’t particularly mobile, nor does he have the intangibles that I think he could flourish as a rookie starter. In Dan Pompei’s piece linked to above, they make the comparison to Joe Flacco.

I do think that fits somewhat. You may or may not be surprised to discover that I don’t think Flacco possesses ideal intangibles. Flacco is a player that I think has benefited greatly from being on the right team. In Baltimore, he became a rookie starter because of injuries to Troy Smith and Kyle Boller. He made the most of that opportunity. But I think it helped greatly how much of the Ravens were a run-first, defensive-minded team that already had a leader in Ray Lewis. Flacco essentially never really had to assert himself as the guy up to this point. Moving forward with Lewis and others gone, and fresh off a Super Bowl he will now.

I think that’s why I’ll likely always consider Matt Ryan to be a better overall quarterback than Flacco. I know Flacco has better physical tools, and he’ll make throws look easy that Ryan will never be able to make in a million years. And for that, there are those that will consider him the better player. But I think given what Ryan has had to be in Atlanta from the very beginning, a stabilizing force, that makes him the better overall player. I just believe that if you had put Ryan in Baltimore in 2008, you’d likely to get the same if not better results. If you had put Flacco in Atlanta, I don’t think he would have had the same success. Flacco reached a level the past two years (running no huddle) that Ryan was doing Day One.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 28 “2013 Schedule Breakdown” Parts 1 & 2

May 14th, 2013 1 comment

Allen and I take part in another two-part episode in which we go week by week, breaking down the Falcons 2013 schedule. We look at favorable matchups that the Falcons can exploit along with our thoughts on how good the Falcons 2013 opponents will be this upcoming fall. In the first part, we look at the first half of the season culminating in our analysis of the Falcons Week 10 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. You’ll hear our thoughts on each of the Falcons first nine opponents, as well as insights on how the Falcons defensive line and offensive lines will look in 2013 and odds that the Falcons pick up a veteran free agent such as John Abraham, Richard Seymour, or Karlos Dansby before the summer starts. You’ll also hear our breakdown of how Darrelle Revis stacks up against Julio Jones, and Ron Rivera in comparison to Mike Smith.

In the second part of our schedule breakdown extravanganza, Allen and I take a look at the Falcons final seven opponents beginning in Week 11 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We talk about how good a year Steven Jackson might have, along with whether or not the Falcons have made enough improvements on defense to handle the New Orleans Saints. You’ll also hear our thoughts on how the division race in the NFC East may shake out as well as some of the other NFC squads that could be wildcard contenders. We cap things off with our insights on how the 2013 season as a whole should play out for the Falcons.

Part 1:

Ep. 28: 2013 Schedule Breakdown Part 1 [Download]

Duration: 51 minutes

Part 2:

Ep. 28: 2013 Schedule Breakdown Part 2 [Download]

Duration: 55 minutes

Allen writes for as well as the Bleacher Report. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at:

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: