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Atlanta Falcons: What Will The Defensive Front Look Like?


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Atlanta Falcons: What Will the Defensive Front Look Like?

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Atlanta Falcons: What Will the Defensive Front Look Like?Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The pieces are in place for Dan Quinn to rebuild the Atlanta Falcons defense this season.

While NFL defenses are often characterized as either 4-3 schemes or 3-4 schemes, it's rarely that simple. Like many defenses, the Atlanta Falcons' 2015 alignment under new head coach Dan Quinn and defensive coordinator Richard Smith projects to have a multi-front look that utilizes elements from both schemes.

Assuming the Falcons defense will look similar to the one Quinn led as defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks, its primary look will be a 4-3 under. As broken down nicely by Alec Shirkey of the Falcoholic, this defense actually looks more like a 3-4 front in appearance even though it uses four defensive linemen and three linebackers.

With that being said, the Falcons are not going to simply utilize one look for their defensive front but are expected to be creative, using a variety of different schemes and alignments. Determining how those schemes will actually come together will be one of their most important priorities during training camp.

The good news is the Falcons have far more personnel options in their defensive front seven than they had last season, which will give the new coaching staff an opportunity to build packages that will be disruptive and make them difficult to game-plan for.

A few roles on the defense might already be decided: Paul Soliai projects to be the nose tackle, Paul Worrilow should retain his status as the starting middle linebacker and Brooks Reed joined the team to start at strong-side linebacker.

Elsewhere on the defense, training camp will play a huge role in determining how the front seven looks come Week 1. Draft picks Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett, high-upside second-year defensive lineman Ra'Shede Hageman, free-agent additions Adrian Clayborn, Justin Durant and O'Brien Schofield, and returning veteran defensive linemen Jonathan Babineaux and Kroy Biermann will all jockey for playing time and roles within the multi-front scheme.

As was the case with Quinn's unit in Seattle, the 2015 Falcons defense will likely be rotation-heavy, with many players coming in and out of the game frequently on the front seven. Even so, the team could face tough decisions in not only determining which players will start but who will make the roster cut.


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