Anytime you have a game coming up against a team with a double-digit sack guy on defense, you have to adjust your game plan to make sure that guy doesn’t disrupt your offense. The Atlanta Falcons now don’t have to worry about that part of the game in their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on September 9.
The Chiefs’ Pro Bowl linebacker Tamba Hali, who has 26½ sacks over the past two seasons, has been suspended by the NFL for one game due for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
“I apologize to my teammates, the Hunt family, the Kansas City Chiefs organization and most importantly, our fans,” Hali said in a statement. “I accept the discipline from the league and will return week two of the NFL season with a commitment to erase this mistake with my play on the field and my conduct off of it.”
Hali, who was a Chiefs first-round draft pick in 2006, has started every game he’s played the past six seasons. In the past two seasons, he has come into his own – 14½ sacks two years ago and 12 last season – when he was a big part of the Chiefs coming close to making the playoffs.
Tyson Clabo and Sam Baker were just given the equivalent of a last minute pardon from the governor in not having to deal with Hali when the Falcons travel to Arrowhead Stadium, and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter can cross one small item off his “to-do” list for that game.
The Falcons’ offensive line can now go back to focusing on one-one-one matchups against the Chiefs without having to concern themselves with Hali’s pass rush, and Matt Ryan should be able to sleep a little better before that game.
Hali has totaled 266 tackles, 53½ sacks, and 22 forced fumbles as well as an interception and a safety in his six year career.