With the devastating news of a torn ACL for New Orleans Saints outside linebacker – Victor Butler – the Saints pass rush is now left in a major bind. A key recruit in this off-seasons free agency class, Butler was being counted on the be the linchpin of the Saints new 3-4 defense. New coordinator Rob Ryan personally recruited Butler from his last stint as the Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator. In the transition from a 4-3 base defense to Ryan’s 3-4, having a player like Butler was paramount in more ways than one. As it stands, many of he front seven players currently on the Saints roster have never played in this style of defense. Although Butler was a rotational player in Dallas, he flashed enough talent to warrant such a key role despite not having the production that one would want. This is a huge loss no doubt, but I have a solution that could help with the transition while giving the Saints veteran leadership in the form of production and excitement….Sign John Abraham!
John Abraham is one of the best pass rushers of this generation. As a Falcons fan – I’ve seen this guy beat double teams and make key plays every season -for a team with no other major pass rush threat. He’s completely owned every team in the NFC South at one point or another, and would extremely motivated to prove the Falcons were insane in not re-signing him.
In seven seasons as a Falcon, Abraham amassed 68.5 sacks! He is coming off a year in which he led the Falcons with 10 sacks. Don’t let his age (35) fool you, Abraham would still be the best athlete on New Orleans front seven, as well as it’s most productive. Defensive end Cameron Jordan, who led the Saints in sacks with 8, must now transition to playing end in a 3-4 defense (commonly referred to as a 5-technique). With him having to play more of the run, his pass rush numbers could take a dip. He’s also not that fluid of an athlete and much too big (6’4, 287 lbs) to play an outside linebacker in the new scheme where he would have to drop in coverage sometimes.
Veteran end Will Smith will be transitioning to outside linebacker. I think he’s also too big (6’3, 285 lbs) to play the position. He’s a power guy, so standing him up could negate a lot of his power as opposed to him lining up with his hand in the dirt. But he’s been a very productive player so I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
Fourth year man Junior Galette may prove to be a nice fit at outside linebacker. He’s a pretty good athlete that could transition well. But even he’s not a lock, as he’d never played the position before. Giving John Abraham a call might be in the best interest of the Saints.
The Falcons have run a hybrid 4-3 defense for a couple of seasons now. On passing downs, they transition to a 3-4 defense with Abraham going from end to outside linebacker. With his freakish athleticism, Abraham was still a pass rush threat, while playing the run and even dropping into coverage. His familiarity with the position would only be of benefit to a defense in transition. The New Orleans Saints already know Abraham is a threat at rush linebacker as illustrated here:
Here we have the defensive formation the Saints will now be running. You have three down lineman, with the outside linebacker rushing the passer from his ‘Motorcycle’ stance. Abraham is playing the left standup linebacker that Victor Butler would’ve played.
Right away Abraham shows what makes him one of the very best pass rushers in the league. His quickness is uncanny and may be only superseded by his ability to time the snap count.
Abraham innate ability to bend corners off of speed rushes proved to be beneficial in a stand-up linebackers role. He has plethora of pass rush moves that befuddle tackles.
Down goes Brees!
Abraham is not only a nightmare for QB’s, he’s a walking backfield disruption. he can play the run just as well – something that is vital to help out a struggling Saints defense.
Here Abe is in his familiar OLB in a 3-4 position. In this formation Abe must play the run on his way to the pass. He is meant to be an up-field disruption one way or another.
As usual Abe’s quickness is on full display, as he has a step on the tackle.
The proof is in the pudding….
John Abraham is a complete player who can rush the passer from a 4-3 defensive end spot or a 3-4 OLB position.His ability to use finesse and power moves are unmatched over the past decade. He has totaled 122 sacks along with 44 forced fumbles in his career with the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons. His 32.5 sacks the past three seasons shows he’s not slowing down in regards to being a productive pass rusher. The New Orleans Saints would be getting a highly motivated and highly productive player if they give Abraham a call. So come on New Orleans…Do the right thing!