Dan Quinn has a new defense to work with this year . . . and it looks frightening. Opposing teams should tread lightly with Quinn’s new defense in 2016. The Falcons hope to have their best defense since 2012, but this one looks much stronger, faster, and scarier.
New Base Defense
FS: R.Allen SS: K.Neal
WILL: C.Upshaw MIKE: D.Jones SAM: V.Beasley
DRE: D.Shelby DRT: T.Jackson DLT: G.Jarrett DLE: R.Hageman
CB: R.Alford CB: D.Trufant
The Von Miller Effect
Vic Beasley will be playing the SAM linebacker role in the base package defense next year. What does this mean? It simply means Beasley will be rushing from the edge as an outside linebacker, similar to Denver’s Von Miller, who Beasley has been studying this offseason. This looks to be a better fit for Beasley, as he is very quick off the edge and is better suited for this role. Beasley will most likely slide to DE in the nickel package. This is done very effectively by Oakland’s Khalil Mack who rushes as a DE and an OLB in various packages. The same role has been given to Beasley. Mack racked up only 4 sacks in his rookie year just like Beasley. Mack then exploded in his sophomore season with 15 sacks including 5 in one game against Von Miller’s Broncos. We should expect similar improvement from Beasley. He will be a force to be reckoned with this year. Vic has very similar tools to Von Miller, for they are both extremely quick off the edge and devastate opponents with their speed and rushing moves. It’s going to be a fun year for Beasley, so expect him to explode on the scene very soon.
The Shutdown Duo
- Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford are one of the best cornerback duos in today’s game. Trufant has been a consistent pro bowler since he arrived in Atlanta in 2013. Alford has been improving since day one and shows pro bowl abilities at times, but he has also had his fair share of struggles. Defensive backs coach Marquand Mannuel has recently been working with Alford to improve his game. In a game in which Alford struggled against the Washington Redskins this past season, he answered the call when needed. Alford picked off Kirk Cousins’ pass in overtime for a pick-6 victory in week 5. Alford and Trufant have been working without any kind of pass rush throughout their respective careers. The Falcons should produce more sacks and pressure next year which many believe will take Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant to the next level. Both of these guys are the real deal. Trufant and Alford will soon become the Elite duo everyone is talking about. These two guys are brothers on the field and are elite. Both guys will be shutdown corners next season.
You Have Been Warned
Grady Jarrett, the son of Jesse Tuggle, is destined to have a breakout sophomore season after getting the call to start this year. Jarrett has a super high motor and never stops on a play. Number 97 could be one of the best steals in Falcons history. He will anchor the defensive front while Ra’shede Hageman will slide over to play more DE this year along with Derrick Shelby. There is without question a storm coming. This defensive front looks as strong as ever. Hageman could thrive as a defensive end in the base package, as he will not take on many double teams. Hageman is strong and very powerful, which leads us to believe he will be a force on the edge. He has the ability to beat players one-on-one and plays with a mean attitude. Derrick Shelby will also force some pressure opposite of Hageman, and these two guys could be a dynamic duo on that defensive front. This could finally be the move that contributes toward a significant improvement for Hageman. These guys are about to take lunch money from offensive linemen and there is no stopping them. So to all 31 other teams out there, don’t say that we didn’t warn you.
The Cavalry Has Arrived
Keanu Neal and Deion Jones will make strong, impactful plays on defense. Both guys will probably get the nod to start day one. Jones adds something to the Falcons linebacking core it doesn’t have, and that’s speed. Jones will excel in coverage and take away tight ends and running backs. He will also develop into a thumper with speed like Bobby Wagner of the Seahawks. Jones will get a lot of action in his rookie year and will thrive under defensive coordinator Richard Smith, who was the former linebackers coach for Denver. Some people believe that Keanu Neal is the next Kam Chancellor. He’s a big-time playmaker, and he makes hits that make the crowd want to scream ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’. Neal will contribute tremendously on defense, most likely making plays everywhere. Both Jones and Neal will make big time impacts on this defense. These two players can let the NFL know this season that the Falcons’ “calvary” has arrived.