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Comparing New Atlanta Falcons DE Osi Umenyiora to Former Falcons DE John Abraham

July 11th, 2013 at 9:22 PM
By Graham Waldrop

'Aaron Rodgers, Osi Umenyiora' photo (c) 2012, Mike Morbeck - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

The Falcons released team sack leader John Abraham, and replaced him at defensive end with two time Super Bowl Champion, Osi Umnenyiora.  Abraham put together another great season last year with 10 sacks, and six forced fumbles despite a supporting cast that didn't offer much support in helping him attack the quarterback.

Abraham was undisputedly the best player on the defensive line, but was cut in the offseason.  This was done to save money for the Falcons tight salary cap, and for the imminent contract extension of Matt Ryan.  However, Abraham was the only person who really got any semblance of consistent pressure on the quarterback last year.  Losing him is going to hurt, regardless of the fact that Umenyiora is replacing him.

Umenyiora was once considered one of the best pass rushers in the game, and was a key defensive force in that fearsome New York Giants defensive line that won two Super Bowls.  

But can Umenyiora even match Abraham's success last season?  Hard to say given the fact that he only had six sacks last season in limited playing time.  Umenyiora also had Jason Pierre-Paul lined up on the other side of him.  None of the remaining incumbents from the Falcons defensive line can come close to the explosive play-making ability that Pierre-Paul possess, despite the fact that he had a down year last season.

Umenyiora is now the main man on the defensive line here in Atlanta, taking Abraham's place.  But does GM Thomas Dimitroff's acquisition improve one of the NFL's worst statistical defensive lines over the last few seasons?  Umenyiora has the resume, and is a younger substitute for Abraham.  But it doesn't appear that the defensive line is any better off than it was last year with Abraham.  In fact, the Falcons may have taken a step back.   

Here is a breakdown between Abraham and Umenyiora over the last three seasons:

John AbrahamOsi Umenyiora
2010: 13 sacks, 35 tackles, 2 forced fumbles2010: 11.5 sacks, 33 tackles, 10 forced fumbles, 
2011: 9.5 sacks, 25 tackles, 4 forced fumbles2011: 9 sacks, 16 tackles, 2 forced fumbles
2012: 10 sacks, 32 tackles, 6 forced fumbles2012: 6 sacks, 28 tackles, 2 forced fumbles

There is a clear decline in Umenyiora's numbers over the last two seasons.  After that great 2010 season with an absurd 10 forced fumbles and an impressive 11.5 sacks, his last two seasons haven't been nearly as impressive.  While the nine sacks looks nice in 2011, his tackles went way down as did his forced fumbles.  2012 was Umenyiora's worst season in terms of sacks since 2006 when he also compiled a pedestrian six sacks.  

This can slightly be credited to the constant platoon he was playing with Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck, often all three of them played the same end position last year, while also lining up on opposite sides of each other.  Point being, Umenyiora didn't play full time last year. It's going to be a transition for Umenyiora from being part of a platoon situation last year to becoming the player expected to lead the Falcons in quarterback pressures and sacks this year.

Abraham was far more consistent in his statistical output despite his 3 and a half sack drop off in 2011 from 2010.  He has averaged 11 sacks over the past three seasons, while Umenyiora has averaged 8.3.  Abe may have gotten older, but he hasn't really lost a step statistically.  He is getting more injury prone at this point in his career (he always has been), but you cannot deny his production on the field, nor his ability to make a game changing play when the Falcons needed it.

If this move doesn't work out, it wouldn't be the first time Thomas Dimitroff has made mistakes regarding the defensive line during his tenure here with the draft (Peria Jerry, Corey Peters) and in free agency (Ray Edwards).  But there was always John Abraham to fall back on.  Not anymore.  

Umenyiora is four years younger and has put together an accomplished NFL career, but with his numbers declining over the last three years, and Abraham's remaining consistent, it begs the question: has the main force in the Falcons defensive line taken a step back due to the loss of John Abraham?  Or does Umenyiora have a resurgent year, and put up double digit sack numbers for the first time since 2010? 

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Falcons, Football, Jason Pierre-Paul, John Abraham, Justin Tuck, Matt Ryan, New York Giants, NFL, Osi Umenyiora, Thomas Dimitroff

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4 Responses to “Comparing New Atlanta Falcons DE Osi Umenyiora to Former Falcons DE John Abraham”

  1.  BigBlueBee says:

    Time will tell. Perhaps Osi will step up to the plate. The expectation will certainly be there for him to perform.

  2.  DeMarco Ryans says:

    Thomas Dimitroff did not drat Jamaal Anderson, he was a holdover from a previous head coach. Would still agree though that the development or lack of of this player hurt us.

    Since Dimitroff has come to Atlanta the highest drafted D-lineman is Peters in the 3rd round. We invest high round picks in our secondary and linebackers but have never made same investment in our D line. Our offense has had more 1st rounders spent on it than our defense. I think this is something that has carried over from the Patriot days of TD’s career. Difference is he is addressing the defense aggressively a lot earlier than Belichick did when it comes to the draft. It got to the point where people new the Patriots defense was a comical joke before it started getting that talent boost.

    The Atlanta situation draws similarities but ultimately is playing out differently.

    You have Corey Peters down as a draft mistake. That’s extremely unfair, Corey earned starting time in his first season and really matched Abraham and Babineax in 2011 as top players on our D-Line.

    Being injured with a Lisfranc caused Santonio Holmes issues and he is not the weight of Peters. Peters played well under the circumstances last year. He wasn’t as productive or disruptive as we needed him to be, but he aslo didn’t play a full season. if I recall correctly But I think this year now that he will again be healthy he is going to be a solid piece in the middle of the Falcon defense.

    •  Graham Waldrop says:

      You were right DeMarco. We edited the part about Dimitroff drafting Anderson . Thank you for pointing that out. It’s hard to say right now about Peters, perhaps disappointment isn’t the right word, and with him being fully healthy, one can only hope he is able to show some of the flashes he displayed in 2010 and 2011.

      Dimitroff did well drafting this year with a defensive oriented draft. Hopefully these rookies can step us this year.

      Thank you for your comment and we appreciate you reading the article.

  3.  williams says:

    The Falcons should re-sign Abraham if he will come back for a reasonable amount of money. No one has taken him off the market. Then the Falcons could platoon Abraham and Umenyiora. Hoping for better year but not expecting one on the D line.

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