The Atlanta Falcons' defensive front has been feast (five sacks against Chicago) or famine (25 total on the season, only six teams in the league have less) this season, but Jacksonville's rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert and a maligned offensive line could be ripe for Atlanta's line to pad their low numbers, according to the National Football Post's match-up analysis:
Another opportunity for the rookie QB to improve his overall game on a national stage. From my perspective, Gabbert’s development hasn’t come as quickly as the Jags expected and he struggles to make plays vs. pressure-based schemes. If I am making the calls for the Falcons’ defense, I work to bring edge pressure from the secondary on third down situations. Force Gabbert to make quick reads and throw the ball vs. blitz-man coverage. I’m interested to see what the rookie can do tonight when he has to step into throws vs. pressure.
Ray Edwards has taken the brunt of criticism for the lack of sacks - he was the key free agent acquisition in the offseason thought to be the missing key and a compliment to DE John Abraham - but refuses to measure his worth by the single stat:
"We can't really worry about sacks,'' said Edwards, who signed a five-year deal that guarantees him at least $11 million. "We've just got to worry about doing our jobs.''
But he's clearly disappointed with his performance, knowing that more - a lot more - was expected from the big-name duo.
"A sack-fest, right?'' Edwards acknowledged, managing a bit of a smile. "I'm just going to continue working to put pressure on the quarterback and hopefully the sacks will come.''