At the end of the post that included the interview with Arrowhead Addict’s Patrick Allen, I talked a little about the Kansas City defensive line, and how they rely on big linemen to eat up all the blockers and free up their linebackers to make tackles or get after the quarterback. A key to that 3-4 defense working is the Nose Tackle, the lineman at the center of that unit who generally lines up over center, and tries to take up double-teams. If two of those linemen, especially the NT requires a double team, things behind them in the defense will work out well.
This is yet another spot where the Chiefs defense could struggle. Their starting NT Anthony Toribio is doubtful with an ankle injury. He isn’t spectacular, but he would have been their starting NT. Instead, rookie Dontari Poe out of Conference USA school Memphis, is expected by Patrick to get the start.
So I posed the question to Patrick. Who would be the backups at the position, and what has Poe shown this pre-season. Here is Mr. Allen’s analysis:
Jury is still out on Poe. He, frankly, looked like a rookie in the preseason. He is concentrating on technique, something he didn’t get a lot of help with at Memphis. I think he will start and rotate with Jerelle Powe. We call them the “Poe Boys.”
I don’t think Poe will get embarrassed Sunday but I don’t think he will make a huge impact either. He has all the talent but a lot to learn. He is strong and holds his ground pretty well. If left one on one, he has a good shot of collapsing the pocket a little because of his size and speed. Not sure he is ready to beat double teams yet.
If I were the Falcons, I’d put one guy on him early and see if the rookie can beat him. He he can’t, then Atlanta is goign to free up another blocker to handle Justin Houston/Derrick Johnson. That will bode well for the Falcons.
A man with the size and talent of Poe will not get embarrassed; he simply has too many tools for that to happen. But he can be effectively blocked by a crafty, veteran lineman who doesn’t necessarily need to maul him to effectively block him.
Gee, who is an Falcon interior lineman with those traits? That sounds an awful lot like Todd McClure.
Now McClure is pretty old for a starting offensive lineman, but what he lacks in sprightly athleticism, he more than makes up for with his veteran presence and incomparable amount of things he has seen in his career. He knows all of the tricks of the trade, and if ever age and wisdom were to overcome youth and skill, this would be it. I say the Falcons assign McClure to block him one-on-one, and see if he can get it done. There is a good chance he accomplishes this task. If he can’t, a chip by another lineman should be enough to keep Poe or Powe in check. The added help of another lineman moving down the field to block, or being able to block another rusher, certainly plays into the Falcons hands.