You know, I’m sick to death of hearing how Ray Edwards benefited from the guys he played with in Minnesota. The scenario painted out is that opposing teams were so occupied with the Williams Wall and Jared Allen that Edwards could moonwalk his way to the quarterback untouched.
Simply because, you know, those guys were double-teamed on every play. Sometimes even triple-teamed.
Only here’s the great thing. That’s not actually the case. There’s some chipping going on and the occasional double-team, but that happens on both sides of the line. A more legitimate argument to be made is that Edwards went up against right tackles who are weaker in pass protection. Why make a logical argument when you can make a baseless one off a few examples of the eye?
To do that might mean having to accept the facts that Edwards actual beat a lot of tackles to pick up a lot of pressure, and he did so while becoming one of the leagues’s better run defending ends. Lets take a look at his Pass Rushing Productivity rankings for the past four years.
Year Pass Rushes QB Disruptions PRP Rank
2009 493 65 10.3 5th
2010 396 67 13.3 2nd
2011 404 33 6.4 32nd
2012 93 4 3.2 60th
Look at that level of productivity. Was that all down to the talent around him? And then why did it change in Atlanta? I mean the Falcons still had guys like John Abraham (fourth in PRP in 2011) and Jonathan Babineaux (fifth in PRP of DTs in 2011) to work alongside.
Where Did It Go Wrong?
Obviously though, there’s a clear disparity between how Edwards performed for Minnesota and what he did on the field for Atlanta, and that contributed to his release. There are a number of theories that are floating around, but one that holds particular weight with me is that the Falcons didn’t use him correctly. Here’s a guy who in his final year in Minnesota spent 98.1% of his plays rushing from a defensive left end position.
In his first year in Atlanta that number was 60.2%, and the difference was evident in Edwards’s ability to generate pressure. When he was lined up as a defensive left end he picked up a pressure on 9.5% of pass rushes. When he rushed from the right side he picked up a pressure on 5.4% of plays. A huge difference and indicative of Edwards’s struggle. The Falcons designed their pass rush around Abraham getting pressure, and in doing so put Edwards in situations he was neither used to, comfortable with or productive in. They wanted Charles Johnson and when they couldn’t get him they got the next best thing and assumed they could use him the way they would Johnson.
The experiment failed, and that one has to be on the Atlanta scouting department and the urge to spend some money in free agency. Still, Edwards himself hasn’t been as productive. He has to take a large part of that blame because he’s been in enough favorable positions, and in enough one-on-one matchups, to get more pressure than he has. His work in run defense hasn’t suffered but the -12.4 grade we’ve given him for his pass rushing is a far cry from the +33.4 he managed in his last two years in Minnesota.