Falcons owner Arthur Blank expects the team to make the playoffs next season, something that will likely take a more robust effort from the pass rush than the defense was able to muster in 2015.
The Falcons had just 19 sacks as a team, but they didn’t address the position during the draft. In an interview with 92.9 The Game, General Manager Thomas Dimitroff said that a run on pass rushers early in the second round took potential targets for the team off the table and defended the pick of safety Keanu Neal in the first round because of Neal’s “cover skills and legit physical presence.” He wouldn’t say if the team was concerned about defensive end Shaq Lawson’s shoulder, but said they didn’t take the eventual Bills first-round pick off their board.
Beyond anything having to do with the draft, Dimitroff said that the team has full faith in coach Dan Quinn’s ability to get the defense where it needs to go.
“We feel this is one of those things that Dan has a very, very good grasp on and that’s something we said from the very beginning,” Dimitroff said. “He knows this defense, he knows how he wants to build it as far as the pass rush. I have all the faith in the world that we know what we’re doing and he knows what he’s doing in terms of building our pass rush.”
2015 first-rounder Vic Beasley, Derrick Shelby and Adrian Clayborn will be the forefront of that effort and Dimitroff talked up linebacker Brooks Reed as well while discussing the in-house players the team expects to make more noise this time around. If they can’t and the Falcons don’t return to the postseason, the noises from Blank may not be overly enjoyable for his employees.