birdz4i

4 changes that should help the Falcons defense bounce back in 2019

66 posts in this topic

By: Tim Weaver | July 2, 2019 8:00 am

 

The Falcons had a top-10 defense as recently as the 2017 season. Getting back there won’t be easy, but there have been a number of positive developments this offseason.

Here’s four key changes that will help Atlanta’s defense bounce back from a disappointing 2018 campaign.

1. Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator

Dan Quinn

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Competing in the NFL is all about coaching. If you need proof, just witness the stunning turnaround that the Rams have undergone the last couple of years after moving on from Jeff Fisher and replacing him with Sean McVay. LA went from having the worst offense in the league to perhaps the best overnight, and it was mostly with the same players.

The one factor that will decide where Atlanta finishes in the standings most may be how head coach Dan Quinn does as the team’s de facto defensive coordinator. Quinn came up as a defensive line coach and earned his current job by helping mold the Seahawks into the most dominant defense of our time.

This current Falcons team can’t compare with the awesome amount of firepower that Seattle had defensively from 2013-2014, but they have enough talent to field an above-average unit at the very least.

One key for Quinn will be making adjustments to a cover 3 scheme that looked stale and predictable at times last year. In particular, Freddie Kitchens and Baker Mayfield put on a clinic in how to beat the system in the crushing defeat against Cleveland Week 10.

We won’t know until September how Quinn will change things up compared to Marquand Manuel, but there are some early indications that he has plans to do some serious tinkering. From Keanu Neal taking reps with the defensive linemen to Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley working on new pass rush techniques, we might see a lot of tactical tweaks.

If Quinn mixes things up well enough schematically, it should make scoring on Atlanta much more difficult this season.

 

2. Adrian Clayborn’s return to the edge rotation

Adrian Clayborn

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Quinn can make all the tweaks and wrinkles and adjustments he wants – if the Falcons don’t improve their pass rush it’s going to be extremely hard to win the NFC South this year.

Last season Atlanta’s pressure rate left a lot to be desired. The good news is that Adrian Clayborn’s return to the edge rotation will help a lot.

Clayborn was of course the Falcons’ leading pass rusher in 2017 when he led the team with 9.5 sacks. While a lot of those came in one game against a backup left tackle, Clayborn is one of the league’s most consistent edge rushers when it comes to getting pressure.

In fact, last season with the Patriots Clayborn had the highest pressure rate of any defensive end in the NFL. Getting him back for just $2 million might be the best move that general manager Thomas Dimitroff makes all year.

 

3. Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen back in the lineup

Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Having a strong pass rush is critical for modern NFL defenses, but the Falcons got a harsh reminder last season what happens when you’re shorthanded on the back end.

The season-ending injuries to starting safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen proved to be too devastating for Atlanta to overcome, even with a new rising star in the secondary rising to the challenge.

When healthy, Neal is one of the top defensive backs in the league and his return should be a game changer for the Falcons defense. Allen probably won’t make the Pro Bowl in his career, but he’s underrated and also a critical piece for Atlanta’s secondary.

Getting both of them back on the field should give a massive boost to a unit that looked overwhelmed more often than not last season. It will also allow Quinn to put what may be his most promising defensive weapon to use in new and interesting ways…

 

4. Damontae Kazee’s move to nickel corner

Damontae Kazee

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

With Neal and Allen out for the year, the Falcons desperately needed somebody to step up and hold things down in the defensive backfield. Second-year DB Kazee answered the call and went a whole lot further, too.

Kazee played a fearless and fast brand of football last year that exemplifies the way Quinn wants his defenders to operate. In addition to leading the NFL in interceptions, Kazee showed awesome range and speed on film, which should give him every opportunity to be successful at his new position.

With Brian Poole moving on to the Jets in free agency, Atlanta will be sliding Kazee over to his old spot at nickel corner. He has previous experience at the position in college and his skill-set should make it a relatively seamless transition.

Unless Kazee has a major injury of his own, there’s a strong chance this Falcons secondary could be the most improved unit in football this year.

 

 

https://thefalconswire.usatoday.com/2019/07/02/falcons-defense-2019-changes-dan-quinn-damontae-kazee-adrian-clayborn/4/

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, LouDog said:

Cant believe they didnt mention Deion Jones when mentioned Neal and Rico

I *think* the reason is because he came back last year whereas Neal and Rico did not.

It's a good piece, and some valid points.  I still question whether or not Quinn is the guy for the job, but we are about to find out!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, athell said:

I *think* the reason is because he came back last year whereas Neal and Rico did not.

It's a good piece, and some valid points.  I still question whether or not Quinn is the guy for the job, but we are about to find out!

Ah that makes sense. Didnt think about that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, GeorgiaBoyz said:

We’re missing until proven otherwise by Hageman, Senat, Davidson or whomever a DT that’s good at stuffing the run & pushing the pocket like Poe did in 2017 . 

Davison will stuff the run, not so much push the pocket.  Senat looked like Grady at times, so hopefully he can.  I'm not expecting anything from Hags...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, athell said:

Davison will stuff the run, not so much push the pocket.  Senat looked like Grady at times, so hopefully he can.  I'm not expecting anything from Hags...

Senat looks to be a player . I love him against the run .. if he can add some push & Neal and Rico are 100 rehabilitated the defense is gonna be really good again . 2 big “IFs” . 

athell and Tim Mazetti like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, GeorgiaBoyz said:

Senat looks to be a player . I love him against the run .. if he can add some push & Neal and Rico are 100 rehabilitated the defense is gonna be really good again . 2 big “IFs” . 

I think the combo of Neal and Debo at full strength alone will play a HUGE part in containing the run.  Rico back will help with assignments and proper positioning.  

I like Senat too, I think he is gonna be a good one.

kiwifalcon and Tim Mazetti like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Yo_Lover said:

This. 

I hope #1 gets us back to 2016 playoff form and Quinn keeps leading the defense instead of giving someone else the keys.

Quinn should be our defensive coordinator forever

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Schwarzwald said:

Boils down to the DL play if Rico and Neal are back. Wildcard is Oliver’s play. Bonus is Foye’s progression.

Yup.  My only real question right now is the DL.  Specifically pass rush.  If we have no pass rush, the rest is useless.

Cole World and Schwarzwald like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Schwarzwald said:

Doesn’t really apply but all I could think of! :shrug:985.jpg

:tiphat:

Yes.  Heheh. Fill in the blank of pairings Harry and sally....Romeo Juliet...

Schwarzwald likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Neal could possibly start the season, but i think Rico won't come back till around the halfway mark. He doesn't seem nearly as far along in the rehab process as Neal.

It could be later for both. Tough injuries to come back from this quick. 

Gotta hope for the best, but who would we rotate in just in case they aren't ready?

Ovie_Lover likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, HouseofEuphoria said:

Neal could possibly start the season, but i think Rico won't come back till around the halfway mark. He doesn't seem nearly as far along in the rehab process as Neal.

It could be later for both. Tough injuries to come back from this quick. 

Gotta hope for the best, but who would we rotate in just in case they aren't ready?

There's a reason we tried to sign Weddle.

Shelley#37 likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, JayOzOne said:

Let me add adamantium bone grafts with transplanted teflon-reinforced tendons and ligaments. Also, a strong  dose of gamma rays to boost everybody's healing factor up 1000%.

Ill take some of that too

Edited by LouDog
JayOzOne likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, GeorgiaBoyz said:

We’re missing until proven otherwise by Hageman, Senat, Davidson or whomever a DT that’s good at stuffing the run & pushing the pocket like Poe did in 2017 . 

Yep. I think all of those will be X factors to the defense. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now