When a respected rankings list comes out, it's never good when the best you can muster is "Hey, at least we're not last."
Welcome to the 2021 Atlanta Falcons defense.
Pro Football Focus ranked the defensive lines of all 32 teams in the NFL and - rooted in poor draft selections - ranked the Falcons No 31. Yikes.
Who can boast a worse defensive line than the Falcons per PFF? The Houston Texans show at No. 32 on the list, and are clearly a worse team on the field than Atlanta, and maybe the league's worse off the field as well.
PFF noted the lack of pressure as one of the problem areas for the Falcons:
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31. ATLANTA FALCONS
This ranking doesn’t feel fair to Grady Jarrett. He’s been the sixth-most valuable interior defensive lineman in the NFL over the past four years, per PFF WAR. There just isn’t much around him on Atlanta's defensive line. Dante Fowler Jr.’s first year with the team was nowhere near what the Falcons were expecting when they signed him to a multi-year deal last offseason. He recorded a run-defense grade below 40.0 and a pressure rate well below 10% for the season.
The Falcons will be eager to see better seasons from both Fowler and a healthy Marlon Davidson in his second season after he earned a 58.1 grade on just over 100 snaps as a rookie.
In all fairness, it's been the "Jarrett and everyone else show" the last few years, and he'll be expected to anchor the unit once again.
Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley, who were both drafted to provide a pass rush, are long gone. Fowler returns but on an incentive-laden contract that pays per sack. Tyeler Davison remains with the team but had to take a pay cut after a disappointing rookie season.
The Falcons did seek some help in the draft with Ta'Quon Graham and Adetokunbo Ogundeji, and the team hopes they work out better than recent draft picks.
The Falcons and defensive coordinator Dean Pees will have to be creative in 2021 if this defensive line unit is to have any success on the field. If not, next year they may slide down to No. 32.
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