I covered the offensive portion of this list here. If you missed the epic-ly worded introduction, you’ll want to get caught up. Go on, I’ll wait. Trust me, you’re going to want the whole picture. Stubborn aren’t ya? Okay, if you change your mind, you can read it here.
The same requirements apply for the defense as they did for the offensive edition.
I focused on players who played a significant portion of their career as a Falcon. I also focused on what the player brought to the team during his entire career. One Hit Wonders get dinged and short-timers didn’t always make the cut.
With the “Please Don’t Yell At Me” disclaimer out of the way, hit the jump to reveal the defensive choices.
"DEFENSIVE TACKLE: Mike Lewis and Travis Hall The Falcons do not have a long history of dominating defensive tackles as evidenced by the top two selections having a combined zero Pro Bowl appearances. Lewis played before sacks were a recorded statistic but he was the rock in a defensive line that was one of the stingiest units in the 70’s. Hall is third on the all-time Falcons’ sack list with 41 and is 8th on their career tackles list with 334. Honorable Mention: Roderick Coleman"
"DEFENSIVE END: Claude Humphrey and Jeff Merrow (photo courtesy of msnsportsnet.com) Humphrey enjoyed a career which included six Pro Bowl appearances, two First-Team All-Pro selections and, according to Wikipedia, a guest appearance on The Dukes of Hazzard! Merrow was a member of the Falcons D-line in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He started 101 games and was a starter on the team that finished #2 in overall defense in 1977. As a bonus, his son is named Thor. Honorable Mention: John Zook, Patrick Kerney, Mike Gann, Chris Doleman"
"MIDDLE LINEBACKER: Jessie Tuggle I know there are probably some Keith Brooking fans, but for me, the middle linebacker position belongs to Tuggle. He’s the Falcons leading tackler by 694 tackles. 694! Wrap your head around that for a minute. In Tuggle’s 14 seasons he averaged 117 tackles and made the Pro Bowl five times. He played more snaps on defense than any other Falcons player ever. Honorable Mention: Keith Brooking, Tommy Nobis"
"OUTSIDE LINEBACKER: Greg Brezina and Don Hansen (photo courtesy of beckett.com) It appears I have a bromance with the Falcons players from the 70’s but that defense is vastly underrated even today. Brezina and Hansen are two more players from that era who make this squad. Brezina was an 11th round draft pick by the Falcons and you could say he provided a solid return on investment. Hansen was drafted by both the AFL and NFL and became a ballhawk for the Falcons, intercepting a pass in eight straight seasons. Honorable Mention: None. Brezina and Hansen have no Falcon peers at OLB."
You’ve made it this far? You’re a real die-hard fan. Pick up your Falcons mini helmet at the door and continue on for the rest of the defense and as a bonus, the special teams!!!