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Fixing The Defense Seems Pretty Straightforward To Me


JulioHOFer
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Let me start by saying we don't need a great defense, we need a good defense, and have a number of the pieces in place. The problem is we have a fundamental flaw that was exposed in the Championship game we had no business losing, refs or no refs.

I will also say that we need to scrap the 3-4 concepts entirely. They don't work with this roster, we don't have the personnel and we have no benefit of trying to run it. It's simply time that should be spent on what we can do that is wasted, and creates all kinds of unnecessary needs. We don't have a 3-4 NT, our DTs aren't tall enough to be 3-4 DEs, there is no one on the team who will be made a better player by making them a 3-4 OLB, it's a horrible idea.

The fundamental flaw is the D-Line. It's not talented enough and not deep enough. That's why it can't last 4 quarters, stop the run or pressure the QB, leading to collapse.

Like I said with our offense we don't need a dominant defense that gets shut outs. We need to force field goals while we score touchdowns, and get to the QB in the 4th quarter.

So with that said, let's get to fixing the defense, here's what we need to do

1.Sign a proven run stopping DT.

This team lacks a big run stopping DT in a big way that has so many effects on the D. All our DTs are undersized. A small DT like Babineaux needs to have a big NT (remember Grady Jackson?) beside him who is commanding double teams, otherwise he is getting double teamed himself and negated and worn down instead of using his quickness. A big DT makes our small DTs better, makes our LBs better, keeps our DL and whole D fresh, and sets up 3rd and long to rush the passer.

DT might be the deepest position in FA in terms of viable starters set to hit the market. We don't need to target an undersized guy like the ones we already have, we need to target a 320 lb+ run stuffer.

My favorite target is Terrance Knighton. He's 26, 6'3 330, and in addition to being massive he's shown he has enough talent to get some sacks, fumbles, and tackles for loss. Exactly the kind of difference maker we need and will be cheaper than names like Melton or Starks. Another option who'd be even cheaper because he's less of a pass rusher and has had some injures is Pat Sims, a stout run stuffer at 6'2 335 and 27 years old. Sammie Lee Hill is another option with good size.

2. Sign a proven pass rushing DE.

The need at DE is glaringly obvious with Abe the only pass rusher at 34 and constantly injured, and Biermann the only player and not a difference maker. We need a PROVEN pass rusher to pair with Abe. Not another Ray Edwards bust.

That's why instead of targeting a younger guy like Cliff Avril or Michael Johnson who will be very expensive, we need to target a proven vet who we know what we're going to get. We can't afford to leave it to chance anymore.

My top choice is Dwight Freeney. The Colts have moved to a 3-4 and he doesn't fit. Bring him here, get rid of the 3-4 nonsense and let him and Abe do what they do better than almost anyone, hunt QBs, not drop into coverage. Freeney is 32 but like Abe is going to be able to play til he's 36 if he wants. He has 107.5 sacks and 44 FFs. That's a guy I want on my team.

A good consolation prize would be Osi Umenyiora. Not as good as Freeney but still a proven difference making pass rusher, which is what we need.

3. Resign Moore

Moore is one of our best players and few buildings blocks on D. He's a difference maker and a playmaker, an athlete and a compete player who can change the game in run or pass defense. The only knock on him is that he's had a hard time staying healthy but no one can question his talent or energy.

People say safety isn't a "money" position but I think it's very important. You don't want to put a rookie back there unless they're a legit 1st round talent, and you can find vets but their lack of athletecism will really handcuff a defense. How many "easy" touchdowns do you see due to blown coverages? Just look at the play where the Ravens beat the Broncos, the safety, a young 2nd round draft pick got beat deep with no excuse to be out of position and their season over. So a safety who combines the experience and knowledge with the athletic ability is very important. When you add legit playmaking ability its even more valuable.

4. Draft a DE in the 1st round

Sign a proven pass rusher in FA is a neccessity. So is drafting one in the 1st. Ideally an explosive speed rusher in the exact same mold as Abe and Freeney who can mentor him and turn him into a great pro. If we get one who's a bit bigger or stronger instead that might help them contribute as an interior pass rusher or more in run defense earlier in their career.

Then we are looking at a DE squad talented and deep enough to get the job done, and have a replacement for Abe in development. Freeney can be our everydown end with the rookie subbing in for him when he needs a breather, Abe will play pure pass rush downs only, Biermann can handle a bunch of snaps in the base D and split them with the rookie if ready, and the rookie can be our 3rd pass rushing DE

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And that's basically it. These moves would allow us to let all our FAs in the front 7 walk and cut Jerry

Then I would definately move Spoon to MLB permanently. Now that we finally have a bit DT to keep him clean he can really shine. Putting him at MLB puts him closer to the football at every snap meaning he'll be in on more plays and strengthens our D up the middle.

Nicholas will man one OLB spot and Dent can compete for the 3rd LB spot, with James and possibly a mid-late round draft pick. I don't see us spending cap room on a LB, except for maybe someone like Thomas Howard who could turn out to be a great fit as the 2nd nickel LB with Spoon and be cheap coming off injury. Could be a great pickup but probably won't happen.

In the secondary I have expected Grimes to be let walk but I'm thinking about the idea of cutting Robinson if Grimes is willing to sign for around 6M. Robinson has been overpaid every season here. He hits hard but has no ball skills, doesn't make plays in the passing game and doesn't line up as the #1 corner who takes guys away in man coverage. Apparently cutting him would save about 6M in cap space so the idea of replacing him with Grimes is intriguing

Samuel and Robinson are opposite styles of corners. Samuel has great ball skills but doesn't tackle, Robinson hits like a LB but has no ball skills. Grimes and Samuel have the same strengths, their ability to make plays on the ball, which is always more important than how hard you hit for a corner. With an improved pass rush they could be very productive as ball hawks

I expect McClain to be the nickel CB and we draft a CB in the mid-early rounds to compete with him, back him up, develop for the future and ideally contribute on special teams as a rookie

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Sign

-DT Terrance Knighton, JAX

-DE Dwight Freeney, IND

Resign

-SS William Moore

-CB Brent Grimes (if we cut Robinson)

-CB Robert McClain (RFA)

Cut

-DT Peria Jerry

-CB Dunta Robinson (If we resign Grimes)

Walk

-DE Lawrence Sidbury

-DT Vance Walker

-LB Mike Peterson

-CB Chris Owens

-CB Dominique Franks

-SS Chris Hope

DE Dwight Freeney, ROOKIE (1st round)

UT Babineaux, Peters

NT Terrance Knighton, Robertson

DE Abraham, Biermann, Massaquoi/Matthews

OLB Nicholas

MLB Weatherspoon

OLB Dent/James/ROOKIE (4th or 2nd round)

CB Grimes (or Robinson), McClain

CB Samuel, ROOKIE (3rd round)

FS Decoud, ROOKIE (7th round)

SS Moore, Mitchell

How's that for a defense?

We can actually stop the run with big Knighton anchoring the line and Babineaux beside him knifing into the backfield 1 on 1, with Spoon in the middle behind them

We can actually get to the QB with a deadly DE duo and a talented rookie backing them up, not to mention we can actually get an interior push now as well

We've got plenty of ball skills in the secondary with Moore, Samuel, Decoud and Grimes all a threat to pick off passes

Stop the run

Get to the QB

Get turnovers

Edited by JulioHOFer
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Also in the draft after we go DE in the 1st, we can look to add a CB who can compete for the nickel/depth, an OLB to compete for the 3rd LB spot/2nd nickel LB spot, possibly even a DT, and safety depth in the late rounds

We could end up going all D in the draft, but we could use our 2nd round pick on an offensive need like OL, speed RB or TE

I would probably go

1. DE

2. OL/RB

3. CB/OLB

4. OLB/CB

5. RB/TE

6. TE/LB/WR/CB/RB

7. FS/SS

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well that's just not true at all, most of the top defenses run it, including both teams that went to the SB.

Take a look at those teams DL and then look at ours.

We have no business running a 3-4, we have no one who fits it and no one who improves by moving to it

We need to add the DL pieces we need to run the 4-3 effectively instead of creating all kinds of new needs

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I think everyone has said dline is the problem. Also we don't need just a big run stuffing DT. We need one that is great at the POA and someone that can rush. Teams throw the ball on all downs. Having just a DT that can only stop the run severely limits your defense. And we will resign Moore if he doesn't want a crazy contract.

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I agree with most of the reasoning behind the problem and like some of the mock off season moves. I don't think the limited snaps out of 3-4 we use are enough to warrant calling it out for past failures. I also don't want Vance Walker cut. This isn't the first time I have seen this idea and I just don't understand it. Get rid of somebody else.

As far fixing our defense. Yes , its the line. They looked pathetic in the playoffs.

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I agree with most of the reasoning behind the problem and like some of the mock off season moves. I don't think the limited snaps out of 3-4 we use are enough to warrant calling it out for past failures. I also don't want Vance Walker cut. This isn't the first time I have seen this idea and I just don't understand it. Get rid of somebody else.

As far fixing our defense. Yes , its the line. They looked pathetic in the playoffs.

Walker is a UFA. If he can be resigned for cheap to be the #4 or 5 DT then great. We need a legit DT starter added, Babs is the other starter, Peters is the #3, Robertson was set in line to have a chance to be #4

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I think everyone has said dline is the problem. Also we don't need just a big run stuffing DT. We need one that is great at the POA and someone that can rush. Teams throw the ball on all downs. Having just a DT that can only stop the run severely limits your defense. And we will resign Moore if he doesn't want a crazy contract.

That's why I think Terrance Knighton is a perfect fit. At 6'3 330 he's that massive prescence we simply don't have anywhere on D, but he also has shown he can get sacks and tackles for loss and force some fumbles. In addition to stopping the run and eating up blockers he can push the pocket

This is another reason why we need to scrap the 3-4 nonsense. If we're going to run it, we need to go out and get an actual 3-4 NT, which means paying for a guy who will basically provide us absolutely nothing in terms of pass rush and won't play in the nickel

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Take a look at those teams DL and then look at ours.

We have no business running a 3-4, we have no one who fits it and no one who improves by moving to it

We need to add the DL pieces we need to run the 4-3 effectively instead of creating all kinds of new needs

Don;t really understand the point of this post, he said not many teams run the 3-4, I pointed out that he was wrong. Never said whether we should or shouldn't be running a 3-4.
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Dent would get destroyed at OLB (look, you just created another need) and adding another over the hill DE isn't going to help us much at all. We would be going into the season with 3 guys on the DL over the age of 30. 2 DEs 33 or over and a 32 year old DT. Our fundamental flaw is that our guys are old and not conditioned very well, I fail to see how adding another geriatric at DE will help improve the situation.

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Don;t really understand the point of this post, he said not many teams run the 3-4, I pointed out that he was wrong. Never said whether we should or shouldn't be running a 3-4.

I know, but my point remains. You shouldnt run the 3-4 if you dont have the personnel for it. Plenty of teams using it so it's not like the pieces for it are just sitting out there waiting to be scooped. If anything players that fit the 4-3 are more available because less teams are drafting for them

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Dent would get destroyed at OLB (look, you just created another need) and adding another over the hill DE isn't going to help us much at all. We would be going into the season with 3 guys on the DL over the age of 30. 2 DEs 33 or over and a 32 year old DT. Our fundamental flaw is that our guys are old and not conditioned very well, I fail to see how adding another geriatric at DE will help improve the situation.

Dent would be competing with James and a 3rd or 4th round rookie to be our 3rd LB. The defense will be playing nickel the majority of the snaps anyways

Figuring out who the 3rd LB who will be on the sideline most of the time is a lot less of a need than 3-4 NT, two 3-4 DEs, two 3-4 OLBs and a MLB

Freeney is a proven pass rusher, adding him and a talented 1st round DE would address our DE situation. Or would you rather overpay for another Ray Edwards who does nothing instead of getting someone who can actually get to the QB?

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I know, but my point remains. You shouldnt run the 3-4 if you dont have the personnel for it. Plenty of teams using it so it's not like the pieces for it are just sitting out there waiting to be scooped. If anything players that fit the 4-3 are more available because less teams are drafting for them

again, not really true at all, its becoming harder and harder for teams to find a traditional DE to fit their 4-3 while at the same time tweener / hybrid guys have become rather plentiful. We have more 3-4 OLBs on this team than we do 4-3 DEs, Only thing that is hard to find is a true fatty of a NT to fill up the middle, only a few of those in the NFL at the moment.
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Dent would be competing with James and a 3rd or 4th round rookie to be our 3rd LB. The defense will be playing nickel the majority of the snaps anyways

Figuring out who the 3rd LB who will be on the sideline most of the time is a lot less of a need than 3-4 NT, two 3-4 DEs, two 3-4 OLBs and a MLB

Freeney is a proven pass rusher, adding him and a talented 1st round DE would address our DE situation. Or would you rather overpay for another Ray Edwards who does nothing instead of getting someone who can actually get to the QB?

No matter which DE you bring in via FA you are still going to overpay, especially with a guy like Freeney.
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again, not really true at all, its becoming harder and harder for teams to find a traditional DE to fit their 4-3 while at the same time tweener / hybrid guys have become rather plentiful. We have more 3-4 OLBs on this team than we do 4-3 DEs, Only thing that is hard to find is a true fatty of a NT to fill up the middle, only a few of those in the NFL at the moment.

Who are you referring to? Biermann, Matthews, Massaquoi? Biermann has shown he's a role player, not an impact player, and Matthews and Massaquoi haven't done anything in the NFL

Abe is 34 and our only pass rusher. Playing DE means he can do 1 thing on 3rd down-hunt the QB. Putting him at OLB means he will be forced to go backwards into coverage instead of forwards towards the QB, this is the worst use of his ability, and puts him at unnecessary additional injury risk.

As for 3-4 NTs being unavailable, guys currently set to hit FA include Steelers NT Casey Hampton, Niners NT Aubrayo Franklin, Baltimore NT Maake Kemoaetu, and plenty of other DTs over 320 big enough to man the spot

We need a DT who has that size but can also provide some interior push, like Terrance Knighton. Someone with enough athletecism to go with that size that we can leave in on 3rd down who can bullrush the C demanding a double team, freeing up Babs, Abe and Freeney to get the QB

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No matter which DE you bring in via FA you are still going to overpay, especially with a guy like Freeney.

Freeney is 32 and coming off an injured year. He'll be a lot cheaper than Cliff Avril or Michael Johnson, who will get paid more simply because of youth, despite being nowhere near as proven as individual players.

Freeney had his worst season last year with the scheme change and injury, which will hurt his price when combined with his age, but I have no doubt he can still get to the QB. Even the previous season with CURTIS PAINTER at QB he had 8.5 sacks.

I don't think he's the same dominant disruptive force he was when younger but he can still get to the QB. I have no doubt he can still produce like Abe has the last few seasons. Speaking of Abe, he needs a compliment, he needs backup, and he needs an heir. Which is why I have us signing Freeney and drafting a DE in the 1st round. Those 3, Biermann, and Mass/Matthews with a FA DT is a much upgraded group

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Signing freeny would be dumb, we need to get youger.on defense not older, if u sign him and draft a DE u basically waste a first round pick, and eliminate the development of mass and Matthews we don't know what we have in them yet they combine.for what 3 yrs in the NFL? Can't just keep drafting DE. Vance walker is a solid rotational player you got to keep him. And moving Spoon to MLB is idiotic. He needs to stay on.the outside.

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Everyone wants to sign mid tier FAs without considering the cap situation. 101 million on our top 19 players + Edwards(that is everyone that makes over 1 mil in 2013). We have to cut people just to fill the roster and PS. How are we paying for them?

No Baker or Svitek? Who is playing LT and who is the backup? Great plan, we can have a couple ok FAs, no LT and be lucky to sign anyone else above a UDFA salary.

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JulioHOFer,

I must say that was an enjoyable read. I don't agree with everything in there but you stated your case very well and it was well thought out.

The one flaw I see is I don't think the Falcons will have the cap space to keep Abe, re-sign Sam Baker, re-sign Grimes, sign Freeney(btw, is he an UFA?), sign Knighton and re-sign William Moore. I don't think you can make all those moves by simply cutting Dunta.......that is a long way to try and stretch $6million cap savings by cutting Dunta biggrin.png.

Also, it should be noted that Freeney had a whopping "5 sacks" last year and only 8.5 sacks the year before - he's definitely better than what we have to pair with Abraham - but he's clearly in decline. Just the name "Freeney" triggers thoughts of a once dominant player - but to get Freeney you will have to overpay him and it would likely be a bad investment unless he is willing to play for considerably less than he is making now. For it to be viable, Freeney would have to take about $5million/yr or less - doubt he does that.

I like the Knighton signing......not opposed to drafting a DE with or without Freeney but Falcons need to keep eye on talent at other defensive positions (CB/OLB/DT) as well.

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Julio, I like a lot of what you said but it almost looks as though you're playing with Madden money as opposed to real US dollars. Freeney is the answer like DJ was da future. He's over the hill and just because he used to be good does not mean he will solidify our pass rush issues. I do like the idea of a big run stuffer in the middle though.

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