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Safeties To Play Big Role In Nolan's Defense


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Details are starting to emerge about the traits Atlanta’s defense will feature under new coordinator Mike Nolan. The Falcons’ two safeties, Thomas DeCoud and William Moore, are expected to be more heavily featured in defending opponents’ offenses. One particular adjective has been used frequently to describe the way safeties will play in 2012.

In the offseason, the Falcons didn’t overhaul their defensive roster, but they did add the defensive mind of Mike Nolan to quarterback the entire defense. Gone is starting middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, but a battle between second-year ‘backer Akeem Dent and free-agent addition Lofa Tatupu will help fill the void left by Lofton.

The biggest change for the Falcons is the addition of cornerback Asante Samuel. Samuel’s supremely talented at taking the ball away from offenses and combining him with Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes gives Atlanta a lot of talent at the cornerback position.

Otherwise the defense will be exactly the same as 2011′s version. The cupboard is far from bare for Nolan and his his new scheme. He takes over a run defense that finished sixth last season in the league, limiting opponents to 97 yards per game. The pass defense stands to improve for the Falcons and it appears to be a focus for Nolan. The Falcons allowed 236.6 passing yards per game last season, 20th in the league.

The addition of Samuel and Nolan will help the Falcons’ pass defense take a step forward this season. There are two other factors already on the roster that may end up playing a major role for Nolan’s defense.

Starting safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore have been the safety tandem for two straight seasons and early indications are that 2012 could be a big year for the two of them. DeCoud, a free agent in the offseason, chose to return to Atlanta to continue working with Moore and take on a bigger role in Nolan’s new defense.

Safeties have played important roles in Nolan’s defenses in the past and have had big seasons doing it. As the coordinator with the Jets in 2000, Victor Green enjoyed his best season with six interceptions (one returned for a TD) and four fumble recoveries. During his ’02-’04 run with the Ravens, he oversaw Ed Reed’s development into one of the best safeties to ever play the position. He also coached Brian Dawkins with Denver in 2009, a safety regarded as one of the most feared players in the league during his career.

Moore and DeCoud are looking forward to reuniting this year under Nolan and all the possibilities that exist.

“We have more opportunities to make plays in the defense,” DeCoud said after Wednesday’s OTA practice. “I don’t want to say it’s safety-oriented, but we’re going to mix in a lot of things. Both Will (Moore) and I are looking forward to this season.”

The aggressive nature of Nolan’s defense has jumped off the playbook page for all the members of Atlanta’s defenders. Defensive end Ray Edwards said he felt the front four will be as aggressive as they’ve ever been able to be, rushing the passer and letting the secondary clean up the carnage.

Edwards wasn’t the only one using the adjective to describe Nolan’s defense. Moore, a naturally aggressive strong safety in his own right, thinks that will be the biggest change for Atlanta’s new-look defense.

“He’s aggressive,” Moore said of Nolan. “I love the defense. I love the scheme and what he’s got us doing. He’s letting us roam around and play football, as far as from the back end from the DBs. We’ve got a lot of looks in. It looks like we’re freelancing, but we’ve got some organized football going on. It’s fun. I say that most importantly, it’s fun.”

Moore describes a defense that will allow versatility and feature multiple looks, including opportunities to allow him and DeCoud to switch positions. If things go as they appear they might, Atlanta’s defense may take the lead over Atlanta’s new-look offense as the top story for the Falcons. Defense, as they say, wins championships.

“I can definitely say this year you’re going to see a lot more of me and 28 (DeCoud) back there, playing around, playing some football and being big time on defense,” Moore said.

Edited by birdman2k4
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Ughh, I would hope our weakest part of the defense wouldn't play too big of a role, but I can only hope they will improve.

I think they will improve to the point of no longer being a liability. Hopefully, Moore stays healthy.

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with all the headshots willy mo bout to pass out im not sure. He's saying the d is going to be aggressive and we seen how aggressive under the old D now he can really tee off oh man, he looked like one of those guys off the longest yard lol

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I've been saying this the entire offseason, I'm glad someone finally wrote an article. It seems that only articles written by "official" writers as opposed to some of us plain old forum posters are good because they are "official".

To spare everyone's time for the 80th time, a quick blurb from this past week:

For anyone that watches the Falcons they'd know that there is nothing secret about William Moore being a superstar -- he's one of our best defenders.

He's struggled with injuries and his play has suffered at times, but he's got the kind of potential to be an All-Pro safety when Reed and Polamalu hang it up.

Few safeties have ballhawking skills on par with his, and he's one of the best tacklers. The best safeties in the NFL are always on attacking, versatile defenses: Pittsburgh, Baltimore, San Franisco.

We had a vanilla defense under BVG. I can't wait to see what's in store for William Moore in Nolan's attacking scheme.

Moore was an absolute stud prospect in college after his junior season in which he turned in stats nothing like the nation had ever seen for a college safety. And this wasn't D3 ball either, we're talking Big 12 country Missouri.

115 tackles (71 solo), 8 interceptions, 1 TD, 5 passes broken up, 2 forced fumbles, 2 sacks, 2 QB hurries, 9 tackles for a loss.

That was when he was allowed to roam free in the back end, making plays on the ball and staying up in the box. As a senior he was asked to stay in the box to minimize the loss of guys like Sean Weatherspoon and thus he didn't make as many plays.

I'd expect closer to stats to this, although expecting 100+ and over 5 interceptions is unrealistic. 80 tackles, 5 interceptions, 2 sacks, 3 ffs, 10 passes broken up, and some tackles for a loss are exactly what I expect. Everything Moore has said about his role in Nolan's scheme made me think of his role in Mizzou's scheme as a junior. He and DeCoud will be playing out of the box mostly, unless they are blizing by design, and will be in position to make plays on slightly errant passes thanks to the pressure that Nolan dials up. William Moore is fully healthy, and if allowed to do his thing, this could be a HUGE breakout season for him. Hopefully we extend him soon before his stock goes sky high. I'd rather cut DeCoud and take our chance with Mitchell than let Moore walk in free agency. DeCoud may be in position to make a lot of plays but he just isn't a playmaker -- we took him in the 3rd because he was a stud special teams player and a solid safety. That's exactly what he is, no more upside than that. At least that's my opinion.

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Back in May at the rookie minicamp, secondary coach Tim Lewis said one of the goals for DeCoud this season was to continue to help ensure everyone is lined up correctly, but to do it quicker. Doing it quicker, to Lewis, would allow DeCoud to see the ball quicker and make more plays on the ball.

I would really love our safeties to turn it up big this year.

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  • 3 months later...

I have a real question?

Where are the guys, who said van Gorder is not so bad. You cannot blitz with these secondary and and.

I got flamed several times, when I destroyed van Gorder.

Nolan was my favourite coach over years.

He is a master of disguise.

and it is only a fantastic for me, that he coach the defense of the atlanta falcons. It is great.

It is so so sos great!

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