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What does Dean Pees need to field a top 10 defense in Atlanta?


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We can’t replace everyone, and even Pees has said the defense has shown flashes and he has something to build off. 

I would say the biggest needs are: starting caliber FS, Pass rusher, upgrade at CB2. Also SS becomes a need if they can’t retain Neal. DL becomes more of a need of guys like Bailey and Davison become cap casualties. Definitely gonna be some churn of the roster on defense.

With limited resources, we need a couple of the young guys to take a step forward (Cominsky, Davidson, T-Mariner, Oliver, Sheffield, Walker)

Oh, and it would be huge if Fowler could provide some level of consistent performances on the edge

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If I had to say, I think having better safeties and DEs would improve this team the most. But realistically, it's gonna take some time to build and you can't build it with rooks alone. I think they should target defensive BPA in the draft and smart veterans in FA. Know that things will fall into place as long as you're building the team for the future instead of trying to fill holes in the draft. Rely on the run more to help the defense out and feature your best players. You can mask a weak front 4 with a good secondary or vice versa, but take the best players regardless.

I think Parsons and Surtain are our most likely 1st round picks.

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3 hours ago, Francis York Morgan said:

If I had to say, I think having better safeties and DEs would improve this team the most. But realistically, it's gonna take some time to build and you can't build it with rooks alone. I think they should target defensive BPA in the draft and smart veterans in FA. Know that things will fall into place as long as you're building the team for the future instead of trying to fill holes in the draft. Rely on the run more to help the defense out and feature your best players. You can mask a weak front 4 with a good secondary or vice versa, but take the best players regardless.

I think Parsons and Surtain are our most likely 1st round picks.

I wouldn’t mind either of them. I prefer Surtain though. Grab a FS and NB in FA. 

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We need better S play... if we can get a FS and draft Sutain.. that would help us get into really good shape for the season.. this draft has really good DL players from the 2nd round through the 5th.. we need to take some dudes and develop players...  but for me the best Defenses in the league always have the best S... I wanted winfield last year.. Hate TD and Quinn for not drafting S ... hate them...

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10 minutes ago, Sidecar Falcon said:

Highly improbable we have a top 10 defense in one season. We’ll more than likely be below average to average. 

I dont know man.  Honest talk here, I'd say we are a top fifteen on the low.  Being right at ten would not surprise me. 

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3 hours ago, Herr Doktor said:

I dont know man.  Honest talk here, I'd say we are a top fifteen on the low.  Being right at ten would not surprise me. 

Top 15 would be around average. Middle of the pack. I think that’s the top end next season. Watching this defense the past two years shows me we have a lot of work. We don’t have a  dearth of defensive talent, but top 10 is a lofty goal which I think is setting up for too high expectations. 

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On 1/31/2021 at 11:37 AM, Falcons Fan MVP said:

Dean Pees has had a top 10 defense everywhere he's gone as DC. What does Dean Pees need to turn the Falcons defense into a top 10 unit?

The top defenses are a mix of 1) a consistent identity, 2) good players, and 3) a scheme that matches the talent (as well as playing complimentary football).

The greatest example, most years, is Pittsburgh.

1) Everyone knows that they will a) impose their will at the line, and b) that they will bring pressure. This was true with the Steel Curtain in the 1970s, as well as **** Lebeau's units of the 90s and 2000s (which still dominates their philosophy).  

2) They invest heavily on defense. Their #1 picks in the last 10 years include Cameron Heyward, TJ Watt, Bud Dupree, and Terrell Edmunds. Stephon Tuitt was a #2. Joe Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick came via trades or free agency. (This is the core of the current defense).

3) They have a core philosophy and scheme, and draft accordingly. It hasn't changed much even into the Tomlin years. They look for physically imposing space eaters upfront (Hampton, Heyward, Tuitt), linebackers who bring pressure (Greene, Harrison, Porter, Woodley, Watt), as well as versatile safeties (Polamalu, Fitzpatrick). 

Now, about the Falcons getting a Top 10 defense:

1) I can count on one hand the times that the Falcons had a defensive identity. a) The Nobis years (before my time), b) The Gritz Blitz (1978), c) Glanville's first year (1991), d) the "Bomb Squad" (the '98 Super Bowl team), and e) the "Fast and Physical" mantra of 2016-2017. Usually these were short-lived, one-year wonders. Why? Contrast our defensive identity with Pittsburgh's, and you can see why. Namely, we don't have one.

2) We've had some good defensive players, but just not enough consistently at the same time. In my lifetime, there's been Deion Sanders, Tuggle, Abraham, Kerney, Weatherspoon, Deion Jones, Grady Jarrett... The problem is our organizational philosophy: starting in the 90s, we've invested heavily on being an offensive team that plays indoors. Starting with Vick and going into the Matt Ryan years, we've focused our resources on offense, which means that our defenses, even at their best, have been middle of the pack, and at their worst, towards the bottom.

This also means that we have little room for errors in the draft and free agency. Think of who we've missed in modern times. In the draft, Jerry, Hageman, Collins, Beasley, and McKinley. In free agency, Edwards, Solei, Jackson, Fowler. Missing so much leads to filling our roster with complimentary players (and even over-valuing them when rookie contracts are up: examples, like K Bierman, R. Allen). We've hit on some good players, like Lofton, Trufant, Jarrett, D. Jones, Neal, and Oluokun, but again, when we're so heavily invested on offense (and trading away picks to move up), we simply cannot miss on defense, as often as we did.   

3) It's up to the front office and coaches to a) tailor a scheme (for existing players), b) draft the right players for the core philosophy and scheme (moving forwards), and c) play complimentary football (with the offense). The Falcons have really struggled in all three here.

First, let's start with schemes. Since the Dimitrov/Smith years, which I consider to be the start of modern Falcons football, we've run Tampa Two, the "Amoeba," 4-3 under with Cover 3, and some version of a multiple front, while playing nickel (just last year). Although defensive philosophies evolve (as new offensive philosophies enter the league), there's been little consistency, year to year, on the defensive side of the ball. This makes it harder to draft the right players, and can also kill any gains made through the previous draft (if players no longer fit). 

Another issue: we try to overcompensate -- Since we're an offensive-minded organization, we've tried hiring defensive coaches (Smith, Quinn) to try and scheme a competent, complimentary defense. To be fair, I think this has been a tall order, considering the lack of playmakers we've historically had on defense. There's only so much that coaches can scheme up, before offenses catch on. We saw this happen, first with Smith, and later with Quinn. When you don't have enough players on that side of the ball, you've got to either control the clock or outscore the other guy. This is where the lack of a running game got both coaches fired at the end. We became too one dimensional on offense, or when we did jump out to a big lead, we couldn't/didn't know how to kill the clock. (This is crucial to playing complimentary football). It also led to gimmicky scheming which proved to be ineffective and a disaster. 

So what will it take for Dean Peas to field a competitive defense? At the very least, a heavy amount of draft capital. We've got 4 true starters on defense (Jarrett, Jones, Oluokun, and Terrell). I think it will take at least 2 years of committing 2 of the 3 top picks to defense, while finding some productive (yet affordable) vets, and hitting on some mid-rounders.

Reaching a top 10 defense could to be a tall task, considering our cap space for the next 2 years, but if we can hold teams to around 23-24 ppg, I think we may have a shot in most games, because of Arthur Smith running the offense.   

  

      

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46 minutes ago, GhostOfBukowski said:

The top defenses are a mix of 1) a consistent identity, 2) good players, and 3) a scheme that matches the talent (as well as playing complimentary football).

The greatest example, most years, is Pittsburgh.

1) Everyone knows that they will a) impose their will at the line, and b) that they will bring pressure. This was true with the Steel Curtain in the 1970s, as well as **** Lebeau's units of the 90s and 2000s (which still dominates their philosophy).  

2) They invest heavily on defense. Their #1 picks in the last 10 years include Cameron Heyward, TJ Watt, Bud Dupree, and Terrell Edmunds. Stephon Tuitt was a #2. Joe Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick came via trades or free agency. (This is the core of the current defense).

3) They have a core philosophy and scheme, and draft accordingly. It hasn't changed much even into the Tomlin years. They look for physically imposing space eaters upfront (Hampton, Heyward, Tuitt), linebackers who bring pressure (Greene, Harrison, Porter, Woodley, Watt), as well as versatile safeties (Polamalu, Fitzpatrick). 

Now, about the Falcons getting a Top 10 defense:

1) I can count on one hand the times that the Falcons had a defensive identity. a) The Nobis years (before my time), b) The Gritz Blitz (1978), c) Glanville's first year (1991), d) the "Bomb Squad" (the '98 Super Bowl team), and e) the "Fast and Physical" mantra of 2016-2017. Usually these were short-lived, one-year wonders. Why? Contrast our defensive identity with Pittsburgh's, and you can see why. Namely, we don't have one.

2) We've had some good defensive players, but just not enough consistently at the same time. In my lifetime, there's been Deion Sanders, Tuggle, Abraham, Kerney, Weatherspoon, Deion Jones, Grady Jarrett... The problem is our organizational philosophy: starting in the 90s, we've invested heavily on being an offensive team that plays indoors. Starting with Vick and going into the Matt Ryan years, we've focused our resources on offense, which means that our defenses, even at their best, have been middle of the pack, and at their worst, towards the bottom.

This also means that we have little room for errors in the draft and free agency. Think of who we've missed in modern times. In the draft, Jerry, Hageman, Collins, Beasley, and McKinley. In free agency, Edwards, Solei, Jackson, Fowler. Missing so much leads to filling our roster with complimentary players (and even over-valuing them when rookie contracts are up: examples, like K Bierman, R. Allen). We've hit on some good players, like Lofton, Trufant, Jarrett, D. Jones, Neal, and Oluokun, but again, when we're so heavily invested on offense (and trading away picks to move up), we simply cannot miss on defense, as often as we did.   

3) It's up to the front office and coaches to a) tailor a scheme (for existing players), b) draft the right players for the core philosophy and scheme (moving forwards), and c) play complimentary football (with the offense). The Falcons have really struggled in all three here.

First, let's start with schemes. Since the Dimitrov/Smith years, which I consider to be the start of modern Falcons football, we've run Tampa Two, the "Amoeba," 4-3 under with Cover 3, and some version of a multiple front, while playing nickel (just last year). Although defensive philosophies evolve (as new offensive philosophies enter the league), there's been little consistency, year to year, on the defensive side of the ball. This makes it harder to draft the right players, and can also kill any gains made through the previous draft (if players no longer fit). 

Another issue: we try to overcompensate -- Since we're an offensive-minded organization, we've tried hiring defensive coaches (Smith, Quinn) to try and scheme a competent, complimentary defense. To be fair, I think this has been a tall order, considering the lack of playmakers we've historically had on defense. There's only so much that coaches can scheme up, before offenses catch on. We saw this happen, first with Smith, and later with Quinn. When you don't have enough players on that side of the ball, you've got to either control the clock or outscore the other guy. This is where the lack of a running game got both coaches fired at the end. We became too one dimensional on offense, or when we did jump out to a big lead, we couldn't/didn't know how to kill the clock. (This is crucial to playing complimentary football). It also led to gimmicky scheming which proved to be ineffective and a disaster. 

So what will it take for Dean Peas to field a competitive defense? At the very least, a heavy amount of draft capital. We've got 4 true starters on defense (Jarrett, Jones, Oluokun, and Terrell). I think it will take at least 2 years of committing 2 of the 3 top picks to defense, while finding some productive (yet affordable) vets, and hitting on some mid-rounders.

Reaching a top 10 defense could to be a tall task, considering our cap space for the next 2 years, but if we can hold teams to around 23-24 ppg, I think we may have a shot in most games, because of Arthur Smith running the offense.   

  

      

Excellent post. Welcome aboard.

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20 hours ago, Francis York Morgan said:

If I had to say, I think having better safeties and DEs would improve this team the most. But realistically, it's gonna take some time to build and you can't build it with rooks alone. I think they should target defensive BPA in the draft and smart veterans in FA. Know that things will fall into place as long as you're building the team for the future instead of trying to fill holes in the draft. Rely on the run more to help the defense out and feature your best players. You can mask a weak front 4 with a good secondary or vice versa, but take the best players regardless.

I think Parsons and Surtain are our most likely 1st round picks.

I agree.  I think top 10 defense in year 1 is probably not realistic.  I expect a significant number of hiccups in year one while the defense is being built.

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19 hours ago, cyofish said:

He already has the talent, just need to play to their strength and run a better scheme than his predecessors. 

 

Where is this talent you speak of, exactly? There is exactly 1 legit all-pro type of player on this team(Jarrett obviously), couple of fast linebackers, and a seeming solid rookie at CB. I missing someone because the safeties are brutal (all 3 on the roster), the #2 CB and beyond is dreadful, the pass rush is bottom 3 in football when rushing out of the base and with no blitz.

Yeah, the talent is there for sure....

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Defense doesn't need to be top 5, they just need to be above average (top 15).  The offense is good enough to pick up the slack as long as they add a stout RB.   The Falcons defense held Chiefs to 17 points and Raiders to 6 points etc. and at least for 3 quarters kept the game pretty close. 

Defense played markedly better after Raheem Morris has taken over with just a little tweak to player motivation.  They can be orders of magnitude better with better coaching , better scheme, and making adjustments in second half.   We seen other team make a leap make sudden leaps with the right kind of coaching.  

Jarrett, Fowler, Terrell, Deion Jones, Oluokon,  Neal, are really good pieces.  These guys can be starters on any team in the league.  That's 7 out of 11 on defense.  Some players take 2-3 years to develop.  At least a couple of young players will improve in the offseason.  As with every coaching regime change, Pees/Smith will bring in a few players from the Titans, that fits what they do and fills the void.   They will also add a couple of more pieces through draft and free agency.    




   

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8 hours ago, Godzilla1985 said:

I agree.  I think top 10 defense in year 1 is probably not realistic.  I expect a significant number of hiccups in year one while the defense is being built.

We played like a top 15 with Ulbrich and Raheem except against Tampa Bay. We definitely need to figure out how to beat the Bucs and Saints this off-season cause they man handled us.

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