The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter is at the Falcons facility and joins Noah Coslov to talk about the team’s offensive line, questions at linebacker and changes in Dan Quinn.
1. Project Pass Rush. The Falcons' highly classified "project pass rush" received a major shot in the arm when sackmaster Dwight Freeney agreed to a one-year incentive laden deal with the team on Tuesday evening.
For the past couple of years, during the end of the Mike Smith administration and early on here in Quinn's tenure, the media has been repeatedly told that "sacks are not important."
It was pointed out that a pass rush can be effective by "getting the quarterback of his spot."
So, in fairness, we started tracking quarterback hits and hurries more closely. By tracking sacks, hurries and quarterback hits you can come up a pass-rush ratio. The Falcons pass rush ratio has still been porous.
By signing Freeney, the Falcons are saying that while hurries and hits are nice, there's nothing like putting the opposing quarterback on his butt.
The Falcons have to hope that this works out better than the last two times they tried to signed a free agent to help the pass rush. The Ray Edwards and Osi Umenyiora signings didn't create much pressure.
Here are some of the stories from the offseason on the Falcons’ "Project pass rush":
PROJECT PASS RUSH
2. Freeney's deal. Freeney's one-year inventive-laden deal is reportedly worth as much as $4 million. The seven-time Pro Bowler will be available to the media on Thursday. The Falcons had 19 sacks last season, which ranked last in the NFL. In fact, the Falcons’ pass rush has finished 30th, 31st and 32nd, respectively, in sacks over the past three seasons. Freeney, 36, had eight sacks in 11 games with Arizona last season and should help second-year linebacker/defensive end Vic Beasley develop. Beasley, the eighth-overall pick in the 2015 draft, is the future of the Falcons pass-rush.
3. Schultz approves of this deal. The team hasn't commented on the deal. They like to wait until the contract is signed and approved by the league first. But in the meantime, AJC columnist Jeff Schultz likes this signing.
4. Freeney in action. Before playing with Arizona last season, Freeney spent two seasons in San Diego and the previous 11 with the Indianapolis Colts. Here's are some photos of him over the years.
5. Weatherspoon on Freeney. Back when Freeney visited the Falcons we asked linebacker Sean Weatherspoon about him. They played together last season and helped the Cardinals reach the NFC championship game. Here's what Spoon had to say.
6. Move should help Beasley. With Freeney, the Falcons can play Beasley and Freeney at opposite defensive ends in the nickel package. There should still be enough snaps for Adrian Clayborn to rush some, too. Freeney played 255 snaps last season.
7. Freeney ranks third of current players. Freeney's 119.5 career sacks ranks him 19th on the all-time list, just behind Clyde Simmons (121.5) and Simeon Rice (122). Freeney ranks third in sacks behind Green Bay's Julius Peppers (136) and Denver DeMarcus Ware (134.5) among current players.
8. TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE
3 – Wednesday, public practice, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
4 – Thursday, public practice, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
5 - Friday, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. Grayson High School
6 - Saturday, players off.
7 – Sunday, public practice, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
8- Monday, public practice, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
9 - Tuesday, public practice, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
10 - Wednesday, public practice 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
11 – Thursday vs. Washington 7 p.m. (Georgia Dome).
12 – Friday, closed practice.
13 - Saturday, players off.
14 – Sunday, public practice, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
15 – Monday, public practice, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
16 – Tuesday, public practice: 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
9. Depth chart. Here's the updated training camp depth chart after Freeney's deal:
WR 11 Julio Jones, 16 Justin Hardy, 87 Devin Fuller, 18 Jordan Leslie
LT 70 Jake Matthews, 76 Tom Compton
LG 67 Andy Levitre, 71 Wes Schweitzer, 79 Shabaz Ahmed
C 51 Alex Mack, 63 Ben Garland, 69 Jake Reed
RG 65 Chris Chester, 68 Mike Person, 64 Collin Rahrig, Michael Huey
RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 72 Bryce Harris, 66 Laurence Gibson
TE 83 Jacob Tamme, 80 Levine Toilolo, 81 Austin Hooper, 86 D.J. Tialavea, 82 Joshua Perkins, 49 Arthur Lynch
WR Mohamed Sanu, 14 Eric Weems, 19 Aldrick Robinson, 15 Nick Williams, 7 David Glidden, 85 J.D. McKissic, 6 Corey Washington, 89 Chris King
QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub, 4 Matt Simms, 13 Sean Renfree
RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 28 Terron Ward, 35 Gus Johnson, 20 Brandon Wilds
FB 42 Patrick DiMarco, 39 Will Ratelle
RDE Dwight Freeney, 99 Adrian Clayborn, 50 Brooks Reed, 91 Courtney Upshaw, 75 Brandon Williams
DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 94 Tyson Jackson, 95 Jonathan Babineaux, 96 Nordly Capi, 98 Cory Johnson
DT 90 Derrick Shelby, 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 92 Joey Mbu, 74 Chris Mayes
LDE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 48 Ivan McLennan, 93 Malliciah Goodman, 52 Tyler Starr, 54 Efe Obada
LB 56 Sean Weatherspoon, 59 De’Vondre Campbell, 41 Philip Wheeler, 46 Torrey Green
LB 55 Paul Worrilow, 45 Deion Jones, 53 LaRoy Reynolds
RCB 23 Robert Alford, 43 DeMarcus Van Dyke, 29 C.J. Goodwin, 33 Devonte Johnson, 32 Jalen Collins (Suspended for 4 games)
NCB 34 Brian Poole, 29 C.J. Goodwin
LCB 21 Desmond Trufant, 25 Akeem King, 38 David Mims II, 39 Jordan Sefon
FS 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie, 20 Sharrod Neaseman, 34 Brian Poole
SS 22 Keanu Neal, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 40 Damian Parms
RDE 99 Adrian Clayborn, Dwight Freeney, 91 Courtney Upshaw, 71 Brandon Williams, 96 Nordly Capi
DT 77 Ra'Shede Hageman, 95 Jonathan Babineaux, 98 Cory Johnson
NT 97 Grady Jarrett, 94 Tyson Jackson, 92 Joey Mbu, 74 Chris Mayes
LDE 90 Derrick Shelby, 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 93 Malliciah Goodman, 52 Tyler Starr
WLB 56 Sean Weatherspoon, 59 De'Vondre Campbell, 46 Torrey Green, 48 Ivan McLennan
MLB 55 Paul Worrilow, 45 Deion Jones, 53 LaRoy Reynolds
SLB 44 Vic Beasley, 41 Philip Wheeler, 50 Brooks Reed, 91 Courtney Upshaw,
RCB 25 Akeem King, 32 Jalen Collins, 23 Robert Alford, 29 C.J. Goodwin, 33 Devonte Johnson, 38 David Mims II
LCB 21 Desmond Trufant, 43 DeMarcus Van Dyke, 39 Jordan Sefon, 34 Brian Poole
FS 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie, 20 Sharrod Neaseman
SS 22 Keanu Neal, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 40 Damian Parms
K 3 Matt Bryant, 1 Nick Rose
KO 5 Matt Bosher
P 5 Matt Bosher
KR 26 Tevin Coleman, 87 Devin Fulller, 14 Eric Weems, 16 Justin Hardy, 7 David Glidden, 85 J.D. McKissic
PR 26 Tevin Coleman, 87 Devin Fuller, 14 Eric Weems, 85 J.D. McKissic, 16 Justin Hardy, 7 David Glidden
90-MAN ROSTER ANALYSIS -- POSITION BY POSITION