FLOWERY BRANCH -- The top offseason priority for the Falcons has been to figure out how to generate a ferocious pass rush.
The coaches will point out that pass rush isn't all about sacks. You also have to count quarterback hurries and hits.
The Falcons had 19 sacks, 70 quarterback hurries and 75 quarterback hits on 561 pass plays. That's an anemic pass-rush ratio of 3.42 percent. Their sack ratio of 3.39 percent was last in the league.
The Falcons are hoping that better coverage on tight ends and running backs while give the pass rush more time to close in on quarterbacks.
Vic Beasley, who had four sacks, 22 hurries and five quarterback hits as a rookie, will move to strongside linebacker in the base defense. He was a factor on 31 plays. Defensive line coach Bryan Cox said they have to find a way to turn some of those 22 hurries and five hits into sacks.
He will rush from defensive end in the nickel defense.
The Falcons are also counting on improvement from defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who led the team with 15 quarterback hits. The Falcons also added Derrick Shelby in free agency.
Ra'Shede Hageman, who’s heading into his third season, needs to improve his play in 2016.
“I’d like to see some improvement in him this season,” Cox told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I think he’s done a good job this offseason of working to get his pad level lower and working on his ankle flexing and some of the things that can make him a better player.”
Ends – Adrian Clayborn, Brooks Reed, Courtney Upshaw, Brandon Williams, Vic Beasley Jr., Ivan McLennan, Malliciah Goodman, Tyler Starr and Nordly Capi.
Tackles -- Grady Jarrett, Tyson Jackson, Jonathan Babineaux, Cory Johnson, Derrick Shelby, Ra’Shede Hageman, Joey Mbu and Chris Mayes.
90-MAN ROSTER ANALYSIS -- POSITION BY POSITION
Atlanta Falcons 90-man roster analysis: Defensive backs
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
PROJECT PASS RUSH
FALCONS' OFFSEASON SPOTLIGHTS