Terrance Johnson for Brent Grimes: Instability in Falcons Secondary
By Greg Huseth
Oct. 3, 2011; Tampa Bay FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams (19) is tackled by Indianapolis Colts defensive back Terrence Johnson (23) during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Stamey-US PRESSWIRE
The Atlanta Falcons received really terrible news this week when they found out that Brent Grimes suffered a torn Achilles in the game against Kansas City, and would miss the rest of the season due the injury. Most of Falcon Nation had a difficult time accepting this fact, until seeing Grimes placed once and for all on the Injured Reserve list, effectively ending his season. The Falcons reacted to the loss of Grimes by signing another defensive back to take his place.
The player signed was Terrence Johnson, a player who went undrafted in 2010, and spent the past two seasons with the miserable Indianapolis Colts. Johnson is a good athlete, and during his time in Indianapolis showed the ability to tackle and bring down the ball carrier even from behind, but as far as actually preventing catches or plays in the passing game, Johnson doesn’t offer much.
I would suggest that Johnson wasn’t brought in to play for this Falcons team. Rather, he was signed to provide the proper amount of depth at cornerback on the roster, as relief for the corners already on the roster.
Johnson will likely take the last, or second to last corner spot on the active roster. The other corners will move up in the depth chart. Chris Owens, the fourth corner when Grimes was healthy, will likely play in the Falcons nickel packages. Dominique Franks was the Falcons fifth corner, but he moves up a spot and will only play in dime package situations. Johnson and Robert McClain will compete and play during practice for depth in the Falcons defensive backfield, and really nothing more.
This is a very precarious situation. Most teams don’t have much beyond their first two or three corners, and the Falcons are no different. Their fourth corner, Owens, has a bundle of NFL experience. Unfortunately, he has also given up a bunch of big plays in that time. Pressed into service, I would keep Owens on the outside, where he doesn’t have quite as many different options to cover as he would if he were covering the slot receiver. This is still very dangerous, and the Falcons secondary could keep plodding along, or take an absolute turn for the worst.