Thursday, October 24, 2013
Babineaux in a rush to improve production
By Vaughn McClure
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Another player might have taken offense to the subtle criticism. Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux took it as sound advice.
Babineaux realizes he needs to step up his production in terms of sacks. Some words from defensive coordinator Mike Nolan reinforced the fact. Nolan said Tuesday he wished Babineaux made more plays in the backfield.
"He gets in the backfield as much as anybody I’ve ever been around," the coach said. "But damn, it’s only about half the time that he’s getting them down."
"That’s my daily motivation: I don’t have any sacks right now," Babineaux said. "I know I can get back there and get pressure. It’s all good. But it’s better when you have sacks."
Babineaux recorded 22.5 sacks in his first eight seasons and 49.5 tackles for loss, the most tackles for loss by a defensive tackle since 2005. He had 3.5 sacks last season and a career-high and team-leading six in 2009.
Through six games this season, he has no sacks and one tackle for a loss in 341 defensive snaps. Babineaux has played 83 percent of the snaps or more in five of six games.
Although the Falcons are starting to rotate more bodies along the defensive line, Babineaux doesn't need to look over his shoulder. He simply has to produce.
"It’s all about production," Babineaux said. "I’ve been doing this for years. Ain’t nothing better than getting the guy down in the backfield. I’ve been hitting the quarterback a lot lately, but [I've] just got to get him when he’s got the ball in his hands.’’
Nolan, of course, wants more consistent pressure from his front four as a whole. The Falcons have 14 sacks, led by defensive end Osi Umenyiora with four. But six of those sacks have come from linebackers and defensive backs.
Currently, the Falcons stand 25th in the league in sacks per pass play. On Sunday, they’ll face an Arizona Cardinals team that has allowed quarterback Carson Palmer to be sacked 20 times so far this season.