The Atlanta Falcons biggest question of the 2021 NFL season is apparent to everyone – the defensive line and their ability to get after the quarterback.
While the problem has been well documented by many over the years, under Thomas Dimitroff, the Atlanta Falcons did very little to actually address the issue and things didn’t change this offseason under new general manager Terry Fontenot.
This is going to put a ton of pressure on defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who is known for creating pressure from every gap and from every position. He will have a lot of magic to work over the coming months to transform this defense and get something productive from those along the defensive line.
Atlanta Falcons secondary would be the biggest benefactor from a pass rush
Recently, NFL Spin Zone writer Russell Baxter wrote about the biggest questions facing each of the four NFC South teams, of course, the Atlanta Falcons biggest issue is the pass rush and noted that in 2020, the Falcons tallied just 29 sacks while the defense gave up 34 passing touchdowns.
The Atlanta Falcons also gave up the fourth-most yards across the NFL in 2020. Outside of Grady Jarrett, the Falcons have not had any production upfront.
As we wrote last year, the Falcons have not recorded 40 sacks a team since 2004 when Patrick Kerney and Roderick Coleman each at double-digit sacks.
With one of the league’s youngest secondaries, Pees and his defense is going to have to generate as much pressure as possible in order to give guys like AJ Terrell, Darren Hall, and Avery Williams a chance to be successful.
A big part of that is going to be former first-round pick Dante Fowler Jr, who signed a free-agent deal before the 2020 season with the Falcons and restructured just a couple of months ago in order to stay with the franchise.
Unfortunately, he was one of 24 players from around the league to start the season on the Reserve/Covid-19 list and according to Field Yates, 22 of the 24 were due to a positive test. Hopefully, Fowler is able to get better quickly and join the Falcons on the field as they are going to need him at his best in 2021 if they are going to improve up front.