Atlanta Falcons Clearly Should Not Pair Osi Umenyiora With Shawne Merriman
The name “Shawne Merriman” conjures images of a superhuman wrecking ball from the mid-aughts. However, evaluating what he’s done recently — in just 18 games played since 2010 — makes his recent tweet hard to take seriously.
“In the right role ill guarantee double digit sacks if not ill donate half of my season salary @nfl @Atlanta_Falcons #LightsOnFoundation” the veteran outside linebacker tweeted this week. Worth a try on Merriman’s part, I suppose.
The Atlanta Falcons let their longtime edge rusher John Abraham walk in free agency, to eventually join NFC foe Arizona Cardinals. While Abraham provided a very well-rounded presence against both the run and pass, tallying double-digit sacks with regularity, their replacement has not done so. Osi Umenyiora is in my opinion king of the strip-sack, but it seems this new Falcons addition wasn’t really trusted to be stout against the run while with the New York Giants, reduced largely to passing downs.
Merriman did receive a positive run defense grade from Pro Football Focus last season, but this only came in 209 snaps. At this moment, they’re better off continuing to work in Abraham as a hybrid end-backer focused on pass rushing and letting defense coordinator Mike Nolan wizard up ways to stop the run. No need to send Umenyiora to DE in training camp and give Merriman his role at this juncture.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes that it wouldn’t be a locker-room fit anyways: “Don’t expect the Falcons to pick up the phone if Merriman calls. Based on his past issues — steriods, alcohol overdose and partying like a Rock Star mogul — he clearly wouldn’t be a locker room fit. Coach Mike Smith re-stated a couple of times already this season that you have to win in the locker room first.”