Atlanta Falcons five breakout players of 2015 – #2


Today, we continue the final few additions of “Falcons 50”, continuing with our look at the five potential breakout players for the Atlanta Falcons in 2015. Who’s at two?

You can find the full list of “Falcons 50″ posts here.

The “Falcons 50” countdown has entered it’s final stretch. We are counting down the Atlanta Falcons’ top five potential breakout players for this season, which is fitting as we enter the final few days of the offseason. Who is at No. 2?

No. 2 – Paul Worrilow

The linebacker’s case is an interesting one. He has crystallized over the years the hope of a new team during his rookie as well as the disenchantment of the franchise when it dropped to the bottom of the league. He struggled, the Atlanta Falcons struggled. Now, it’s his time to shine along with the team.

Paul Worrilow entered the league in 2013 as an undrafted free agent from the University of Delaware. He did not make outstanding noise during his inaugural training camp with the Falcons, although he caught the attention of several people around the team. The linebacker quickly became the preseason surprise of a team that just reached the NFC Championship Game. The hype was real and he ultimately made the 53-man roster over some veterans.

But everybody forgot he was still a rookie. Worrilow kept piling up incredible numbers of tackles during the preseason as well as the season, when he reached the starting middle linebacker. He made 137 tackles in his rookie season, two consecutive 19-tackle performances to tie for the best single-game total by any Falcons defender since 1994. These statistics were astonishing but these also were the tree that hides the forest.

Worrilow was playing behind an atrocious defensive line and most of these tackles were in the open field after decent gains by the opposing players. The majority of his plays did not have a real impact on the games, he was just limiting the defensive carnage. Furthermore, he overshot lots of running lanes, could not fill the holes properly against the run, took bad angles to the ball carrier and missed a noticeable amount of tackles on top of those he made.

Worrilow struggled for two years with a horrifically and historically bad defense. It would be unadvised to highlight all the bad plays, but there were more than good plays to be honest. Worrilow has good instincts and he could be considered as the ultimate hard-worker on the team. These just might pay off really soon.

Dan Quinn takes over the Falcons and he brings in his bag a whole new defense with new concepts. The former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator likes to build a simplified defense where players only have to make a few reads on a play-by-play basis. They do not have to overthink their decisions, which allow them to play fast and physical.

Within these new schemes, Worrilow looks faster, sharper and more impactful so far. His preseason play was very encouraging, hitting the backfield more often and bringing down ball carriers more easily. Simple reads, as well as a more stable and strong defensive line will help tremendously him. He will be freed around the line of scrimmage and will not have to second-guess during a play, which seemed to put him out of position during the past years in Mike Nolan’s defense.

Although his style of play will not change overnight, Worrilow is going to be (way) better. He will live with the big plays… and will die with the big plays. This year, Worrilow is going to have an impact in the run game and the pass game, for the good and the bad.

Next: Falcons vs Eagles: Full game coverage

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