Football Outsiders is doing a league-wide series of posts called "Red Flags," which take a look at the biggest remaining issue facing each team. Today’s Insider post is on the NFC South and I’ll break it up into four smaller posts to explore the red flags for each team.
We’ll start it off with the Atlanta Falcons. Football Outsiders chose defensive end as Atlanta’s red flag and here’s the crux of their rationale:
“The Falcons addressed this by releasing John Abraham and signing Osi Umenyiora in free agency, but it's hard to call that an upgrade. Since missing all of 2008 with a knee injury, Umenyiora has 33.5 sacks. In the same four seasons, Abraham has 38.0 sacks, and he has had more sacks than Umenyiora in each of the past three years. Umenyiora is three years younger than Abraham, which is significant, but this still looks like a lateral move at best.’’
Maybe so, but the Falcons are simply counting on Umenyiora to be what Abraham was last year. They’re counting on generating more of a pass rush from elsewhere. Kroy Biermann is the other starter and he only has been average as a pass-rusher.
But I think those that think the Falcons are going to bring in another pass-rusher from outside are mistaken. They drafted Stansly Maponga and Malliciah Goodman this year. They have two other young ends in Jonathan Massaquoi and Cliff Matthews.
The Falcons don’t have the cap room to add high-priced veterans. They’re going to throw their young defensive ends out there and see if someone steps up.