Chris Hope isn’t necessarily going to dramatically change the fortunes of the Atlanta Falcons in the 2012 season. He hasn’t really changed any teams fortunes in the last three to four years. However he does bring one thing to the table that the Falcons could use: veteran leadership.
I apologize for not writing an update on the Falcons signing Hope until this point, but I haven’t been able to figure out my own feelings on the signing up to this point. The Falcons certainly had a need at the safety position going forward. The Falcons signed Safety James Sanders to a 1 year contract for the 2011 season, but he left in free-agency during this off-season. That left the Safety depth chart for the Falcons as William Moore at strong safety, Thomas DeCoud at free safety, and….Shann Schillinger. Sure, the Falcons drafted Charles Mitchell in the 6th round in this year’s draft, but he’s absolutely not ready to be playing on a regular basis (if Moore of DeCoud were to be injured), and there is no guaranteeing that he will ever be ready to start at safety for the Atlanta Falcons. But I digress.
The point here is that the Falcons needed a safety who filled two criteria: 1) Could step in at a safety position if one of the starters were injured and 2) would bring a veteran leadership to the team. That is exactly what Chris Hope will bring to the Falcons.
Hope is extremely durable. He has started 16 games a season every season until last season, when he lost his regular starting job to Jordan Babineaux. Even in 2010 he posted 101 tackles, a sack, an interception, and 5 passes defended. Hope was never spectacular, but he was solid. He also started at FS during Super Bowl XL, where he had 3 tackles and a pass defended. That is playing football on the highest level, and hopefully his understanding of how to go about his business and tough mentality in clutch situations will rub off on the Falcons young safeties.
The Falcons seem to have a mental block once they get to the playoffs. Even though Hope is not going to be a huge defensive playmaker for the Falcons now or ever, bringing in a tough minded player who can give his Falcon teammates a perspective of someone who has played for a championship.