The Falcons have finally solved their pass-rushing problem. They have signed defensive end Dante Fowler in free agency to a three-year contract worth $48 million. Fowler was a former third overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2015 draft. He was then traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 2018 for future draft picks.
Fowler just played his best season yet this past year. He managed to put up great statistics like 11.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hits, 49 quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and 34 defensive stops. Now that he is with Atlanta, he is in a more prominent position compared to last season, he is set to have a very productive season.
With the Rams last season, he played with one of the best defensive tackles in the league in Aaron Donald. Pundits have said that Fowler benefited immensely from playing with Donald. He will be tested this season as one of the premier defensive players with the Falcons.
The Falcons have struggled with their defence for the past few seasons. Only defensive back Grady Jarrett has received critical acclaim because he has played really well despite the lacklustre system. Now that Jarrett and Fowler are together, they can become a formidable duo ala Fowler and Donald with the Rams last season.
Fortunately for both parties, Fowler is already familiar with the system. He has a standing relationship with Falcons head coach Dan Quinn who was also his defensive coordinator at the University of Florida. Quinn will most likely take advantage of Fowler’s speed and pair it with Jarrett’s power. Their former first-round pick Takk McKinley will serve as the other side’s defensive end as soon as he recovers from his shoulder injury.
Falcons defensive coordinator Raheem Morris will shoulder the load of creating a better defensive scheme this season. Luckily, both Quinn and team owner Arthur Blank are confident in his abilities. Blank has gone on to say, ‘I always believe that you want to support people in the NFL. The NFL is a big fraternity in many ways. You have individuals that deserve an opportunity. And if they get it, you want to give it to them. I think Raheem is a very fine coach. He’s been coaching for 17 years now. I think he was part of the reason for our success in the second half of last year’.
Morris has also addressed the defensive identity of the Falcons. He said, ‘People ask about identity all the time. Coach Quinn talks about identity all the time. I think you’ve got to go out there and put it on tape. And you are what your tape says you are’.
Because of this renewed focus on defence, the Falcons are set to complement their top 5 offence during the regular season. Their Achilles heel last year was definitely their lacklustre defence. With Morris at the helm of their defence and with Jarrett and Fowler leading on the field, it looks like the Falcons have finally created a defensive identity that they have lacked for years.