Atlanta Falcons: A top 10 defense for 2015?


The Atlanta Falcons have only had three top 10 defenses in the past 30 years. The last came in 2011 and has not come close since. But this is a new era in Atlanta and with the addition of Dan Quinn to the plans, the Falcons’ expectations on defense are as high as ever.

Atlanta’s first team defense has been stout in the first two preseason games. The unit has not allowed a touchdown or a field goal for that matter. Zero points have been allowed by a much improved unit which has the team and the fan base jumping for joy.

Any good defense needs a pass rush. The Falcons have not had one since the departure of John Abraham but just may have stumbled onto something good for 2015. Vic Beasley was the Falcons’ first pick in the 2015 NFL draft and is expected to anchor this year’s pass rush.

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Alongside of Beasley stands Adrian Clayborn, a 27-year-old defensive end who was signed in the offseason and has all the tools to succeed as well. On top of Beasley and Clayborn, the Falcons finally have a good interior defensive line that will be able to clog up the holes allowing the flood gates to open on the edge.

On top of the improved defensive line, the Falcons have also implemented a great group of linebackers who are poised for a good year in 2015. Justin Durant and Brooks Reed were brought in as well and will start on the outside, leaving Paul Worrilow to man the middle of the field.

In the secondary, the Falcons have one of the game’s best young cornerbacks in Desmond Trufant and have a veteran in William Moore at safety who will bring leadership among other things. on paper this is a very solid unit that could take the NFL by storm in 2015.

However, there is always a negative to everything. The negative surrounding the Falcons’ defense is their ability to stay healthy. There are several key players on defense who have had injury problems in the past and have already shown signs of that reoccurring in 2015.

Moore has missed at least four games in three out of the last four years including nine missed games in 2014. Newly signed linebacker Durant played in just six games in 2014 and missed another six games in 2013 as well. Clayborn played in just one game in 2014 and just three in 2012. While this is only three players, these three will impact the Falcons in a huge way this year.

Aug 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons linebacker Vic Beasley (44) walks off of the field after their preseason NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans at Georgia Dome. The Falcons won 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

It will be extremely hard for the Falcons to succeed without these three men in the lineup, especially when it comes to what they bring to the table. On top of that, Reed has been used sparingly thus far due to injury and Trufant has missed time as well with a shoulder injury.

The success of the Falcons’ defense is whether or not they can stay healthy in 2015. If they can do so, they will have no problem in succeeding to the fullest. Is this a top 15 defense? Absolutely. Is it a top 10 defense? It’s possible, but it will take all 11 starters as well as a few key role players to all stay healthy and produce.

Like most defenses, there are usually a couple of first time starters. The Falcons are no different. Atlanta has three projected rookies to start at three very important positions. Beasley as well know is going to start at defensive end while Ricardo Allen and Jalen Collins are the other two new faces.

Allen was a member of the Falcons’ practice squad in 2014 and has never played in an NFL regular season game. Collins was a second round pick out of LSU and is expected to get a lot of playing time at cornerback. Allen has had a very good training camp and is looking like the right man for the job at free safety while Collins isn’t.

Collins has looked very raw in his two preseason games and is going to need some time to get acclimated to NFL speed and to the bigger, faster wide receivers that he will have to cover. Luckily for these two, the Falcons have two great leaders that have shown them the ropes in Trufant and Moore.

The season is just around the corner and the future is bright. Can Quinn elevate one of the league’s worst defenses in years past to one of the best? Let’s hope he can.