Why Atlanta Falcons will reach the playoffs: Improved defense


Want a bold statement? The Atlanta Falcons will make the playoffs in 2015. As we approach kickoff to the new season, I will be explaining my reasoning behind this belief.

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I want to start with an area thats improvement will directly determine the success of the Falcons in 2015, the defense. If the unit performs as it did last season, we can forget even talking about the postseason.

Thankfully, the offseason signs are encouraging.

It all started with the hiring of Dan Quinn, the man whose two seasons as defensive coordinator in Seattle resulted in consecutive Super Bowl appearances.

Alone, Quinn brings the leadership and defensive mind this team needs. His philosophy is to attack the football, and for that he needs fast, explosive players to swarm the football.

In comes Vic Beasley.

Selected with the eighth overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, Beasley fits the Seahawks-mold Quinn needs to turn the defensive fortunes around in Atlanta. Beasley’s incredible burst off the snap paired with his athleticism and explosiveness makes him a perfect fit for the new-look Falcons.

Beasley was dominant in college, leaving Clemson as the all-time sack leader. Atlanta will need him to get adjusted to the NFL quickly, as the Falcons’ defense posted just 22 sacks last season, tied for 30th in the league.

The Falcons also splashed some cash in free agency, and two notable names were linebackers Brooks Reed and Justin Durant. Neither are sack masters, but they will add experience and talent to a linebacker corps in desperate need of reinforcements.

Another crucial piece to the success of a pass defense is the secondary. The defensive backfield struggled last term, but a lot of it wasn’t of any fault of their own.

Sep 15, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant (21) reacts to a play against the St. Louis Rams during the game at Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Rams 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

With the guys up front unable to generate any kind of pass rush, the defensive backs faced the almost impossible task of keeping their receivers covered. If the opposing quarterback is getting hurried more this season, expect the secondary to step up also.

It’s so important for the secondary to perform, and the 2014 New York Jets perfectly highlight this. The Jets have a dominant front-seven, but they were constantly burned deep against the pass due to disappointing secondary play.

For Atlanta, the talent is there.

Desmond Trufant is one of the league’s rising stars at cornerback, but somehow he slips under the radar by many analysts. Second round pick Jalen Collins is a perfect fit for Quinn’s defense, but he will need some time to get accustomed to the National Football League. 

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In the mean time, we could see Robert Alford hold down the starting spot outside, but I think it’s only a matter of time before Alford shifts inside to nickelback and Collins becomes Trufant’s starting teammate outside.

Throw in fifth round draft ‘steal’ Grady Jarrett at defensive tackle and the offseason’s task of acquiring enough talent to improve this defense looks complete.

Of course, until the team takes the field in September for the start of the regular season, we can only predict.

This defense will be better than its 2014 predecessor, of that I’m sure. How much better will determine how far the Falcons can go, but Quinn’s defense will be strong enough to help Atlanta return to the postseason.

Next: Do you think the Falcons will make the playoffs?