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 Post subject: 2012 Key Player: Ray Edwards
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 5:19 pm 
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http://falcfans.com/2012-key-player-ray-edwards-5979

2012 Key Player: Ray Edwards
May 31st, 2012 Aaron Freeman

Edwards was the obvious pick for this year’s most disappointing player, which is why he will be a key player to watch in 2012. As I mentioned in the linked piece, Edwards was a marginal improvement in 2011 in the pass rush department over the much-maligned Jamaal Anderson. After the season, Edwards’ lack of production was blamed on his bothersome knee that was operated on during last year’s lockout. But one wonders just how much the knee was really bothering him since he missed a total of three practices and was limited in three others all year long due to the knee injury, out of a total of fifty-one.

But regardless of whatever is to blame for Edwards lack of production, the bottom line is that in 2012 he has to step up his play. The Falcons paid him a hefty salary to improve the team’s pass rush. And while the pass rush did take positive steps last year, the Falcons are going to need more of that if they hope to make the playoffs and make a deep run in 2012. The Falcons pass rush has been a problem area for much of Mike Smith’s tenure as the head coach. The Falcons suffered through three seasons hoping that Jamaal Anderson would improve, and Kroy Biermann would emerge as the bookend player to John Abraham. That never happened, and thus when the team signed Edwards, they hoped those issues were over.

That did not prove to be the case in 2011, and needs to be the case in 2012, otherwise Ray Edwards may not last much longer as a Falcon. The team is desperately looking for someone that can take the mantle of the team’s top and most feared pass rusher from John Abraham in the coming years, and Edwards is in prime position. One of the reasons why the Falcons have struggled over the years in beating some of the league’s more prolific offenses such as the Saints and Packers has been because of their inability to get consistent pressure on the quarterback. If the Falcons intend to close the gap on such teams in 2012, they will need to do a better job getting after the quarterback.

One of the issues Edwards had last year was how much shuffling he did on the line. In his days in Minnesota, Edwards could set up anchor on the left side playing opposite Jared Allen. Edwards also was rarely pulled off the field, playing the majority of both run and pass downs. But the Falcons like to flip their ends to try and feature Abraham with the best possible matchup on a given play. And they also have a steady rotation as players like Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury will get their share of reps in the lineup. If that new style took time to adjust to, that could explain some of Edwards’ struggles. But this year he can expect to continue that sort of role and should be better prepared to take advantage of it.

Edwards is a capable speed rusher that is more effective playing left end because he doesn’t have the blazing speed to really blow by most upper-level left tackles, often necessary to be a productive right end. His speed is a much better matchup against right tackles who tend to be not as swift of foot as their left-side counterparts. So flipping sides can be counterproductive to his style of play. But Edwards is a strong bulky player that if he so wished could potentially develop a deadly bull move if he manages to combine his speed and power to counter his lack of elite edge speed. That could become a functional weapon he could use those times when he plays on the right side of the line and goes against the typically lighter left tackles.

One area where Edwards did prove his worth was in run defense. The Falcons lost two good run stoppers last summer in Anderson and Chauncey Davis, and it was a question mark on whether players like Edwards, Biermann, and Sidbury would be able to fill their shoes. They did mainly due to the solid efforts of Edwards.

While Edwards does not need to have a monster year in order to be productive, he probably should be expected to at least double his output in terms of sack production from a year ago, giving him around 7 sacks in 2012. But even if he cannot hang his hat on the sack totals, he should at least get double-digit pressure numbers in the coming season. Last year, Edwards had 6 pressures and 2 hits. Compared to Abraham, who had 15 pressures and 8 hits. In fact, Abraham has averaged 21 combined pressures and hits in each of the past three seasons. While it might not be fair to expect Edwards to produce on Abe’s level, he should at least be surpassing the likes of Kroy Biermann who has averaged about 15.7 combined pressures and hits the past three years. Biermann had 13 last year, and 15 should be a fair benchmark for Edwards to be expected to reach and/or surpass in 2012.

One of the reasons why Biermann was able to out-produce Edwards, particularly late in the year, was because the team was pulling Edwards off the field in nickel situations. While this is merely speculation on my part, I think it led to a rift between Edwards and former defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.

The hope is that alleged mistrust won’t exist now that Mike Nolan has taken over for VanGorder. Nolan’s past success should earn him instant credibility and respect within the locker room and in the film room, including from Edwards. And hopefully a stronger rapport will lead to Edwards playing harder and with more fire than he seemed to show at times last year.

Edwards is a prideful guy, and along with new coaches, improved health, and being more comfortable and integrated with the team should lead to a more successful 2012 season.

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 Post subject: Re: 2012 Key Player: Ray Edwards
PostPosted: Thu May 31, 2012 8:16 pm 
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Edwards has very poor lateral agility, which makes me question his upside.

He plays high, and when his initial rush is negated, he is very slow to get off the block and redirect...slow enough that the OT can recover. He has no suddenness to his countermoves, and doesn't show much bend.

I hope some of that was due to knee injury, but I'm guessing he's just a bit of a stiff athlete (the Michael Jenkins of DEs.) I'd say if we're hoping for someone to be an impact rusher, it's going to have to come from a Sidbury, Massaquoi...someone we haven't seen a ton of snaps from.

But I'd love to see him bend a corner this year, and if I see it I'll be way more optimistic. I still think with stunts and whatnot he can be a 5 sack/yr kind of guy.


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 Post subject: Re: 2012 Key Player: Ray Edwards
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:59 pm 
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If it was not his knee we are screwed!! He was so slow off the line it was pathetic. He's had too many 5 sack season's and one 7 or 8 sack before last years bad year. He brought his own chair out to sit on, and that had to be "coach approved"
IMO, so I do expect more from Edwards; I doubt they let him have his own chair to be comfortable; so I'm hoping that had to do with the knee.

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 Post subject: Re: 2012 Key Player: Ray Edwards
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:02 pm 
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Like I said in the article, the benchmarks for Edwards should be 5+ sacks (although 7-8 would be better), and at least 15+ combined pressures/hits (although again 20+ would be better). If he doesn't pass those benchmarks and doesn't have a legit injury (i.e. one that keeps him out of games or at least questionable for most of them), then the Falcons need to move on.

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 Post subject: Re: 2012 Key Player: Ray Edwards
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:18 pm 
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Quote:
Like I said in the article, the benchmarks for Edwards should be 5+ sacks (although 7-8 would be better),


Although realistic numbers there, if thats the best we are truly hoping for, then this was a terrible FA signing. We basically already had this guy number wise in Biermann right?

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 Post subject: Re: 2012 Key Player: Ray Edwards
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:38 pm 
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Fair, although if Edwards gets the 7-8 sacks/20+ pressures-hits that would make him similar to the Biermann that was in 2009. Which is a very good No. 2 DE. You're not going to find many complementary pass rushers like Edwards outperforming that benchmark.

If it's just 5 sacks/15 pressures-hits, then that doesn't make him a great signing, but it does make him competent because that too is not easily found. It at least means that Edwards is good enough to stick around for a few years until someone better comes along.

The problem the Falcons are going to face in the future is finding that premium pass rusher to replace Abraham. That player IMO is not on the roster. Mario Williams could have been that player. Next year's draft class looks solid, although I'm not sure if that player is going to be available.

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 Post subject: Re: 2012 Key Player: Ray Edwards
PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:32 pm 
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Boy we love drafting/signing injured players...I assume he failed to mention this when we were trying to FA sign him.

Quote:
Falcons LE Ray Edwards (knee surgery) says he's now fully healthy.
Edwards admits he never felt 100 percent after undergoing a knee procedure just before last season. He ended up with 3.5 sacks despite playing all 16 games. Back-to-back offseasons with knee surgeries is never a good thing, and the early signs suggest Edwards' signing will go down as a mistake in Atlanta.

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 Post subject: Re: 2012 Key Player: Ray Edwards
PostPosted: Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:59 pm 
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Yeah, probably because he never really rehabbed it. He spent his off-season doing boxing training, not football training. And who knows if he waited to have the surgery late because of all of his boxing "commitments."

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 Post subject: Re: 2012 Key Player: Ray Edwards
PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2012 1:30 pm 
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This is me making a farting sound about the hopeful improvement of Ray Edwards this year.

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFRRRTTTTTT

:down:

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 Post subject: Re: 2012 Key Player: Ray Edwards
PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 1:41 am 
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Ray Edwards is too slow and just a tiny bit better than Jamaal!!

Although Sid had a sack I think he's a bust too; Thomas D. has had too many projects;
and Joe Hawley and and the guy from Bama have been terrible disappointments. !!

Their are raw rookies and then their are players without talent. I don't see much talent!!

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