The Atlanta Falcons had one of the fastest defenses in the National Football League in 2016. They might be faster in 2017.
For lifetime Atlanta Falcons fans, last year was different in every possible way. Well, except not winning the Super Bowl. That seemed pretty familiar. But, that last game notwithstanding, there were a lot of good things happening that we’ve never seen. Not in a Falcons uniform, anyway.
One of those things is team speed. Man, were they fast. There were times when a De’Vondre Campbell or Keanu Neal or Jalen Collins would make a play in space that, let’s face it, most Falcons, historically, can’t make. But they did. The entire defense made plays like that all year.
The crazy thing, especially when looking for positives, going into a season after one that broke your heart, is that the 2017 defense almost has to get faster. The personnel decisions Coach Dan Quinn and Co. have made show that speed, especially on defense, is a focus.
2017 Atlanta Draft picks Duke Riley and Damontae Kazee only add to that paradigm. The aforementioned Campbell has been moved to “Sam” Linebacker. That is to cover TE’s. So, the defense is fast enough that a 6-4, 232 pound Linebacker covers TE’s in space.
And, then, as if to emphasize what’s crackin’ in Flowery Branch, Kemal Ishmael has been moved to Linebacker. Ishmael was a big safety. But there is a difference between a big Safety and a LB. The guess is we will see packages that feature speed at secondary and tertiary levels of the defense. The kind of speed this writer has never seen in a Falcons uniform.
Yes, this season will be a test of mental toughness…
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