The vibe has never been higher for the Atlanta Falcons as they continue to find ways of flying out of the bottom of their division and looking to extend their record to 3-0. Sure, it’s easy to point to the changes on defense as one of the main reasons, but it is hard to imagine that these same group of guys would’ve performed the same under the last regime; therefore, there are two men who should be receiving plenty of praise.
Dan Quinn was one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL as he helped reshape Seattle’s horrible defense. But while he brought the system to Atlanta, it’s the guy barking out the orders—defensive coordinator Richard Smith—who has been one of the biggest contributing factors for this unit’s improvements.
It’s hardly surprising Smith is having the same effect on this team as he did while coaching the linebackers in Denver, who notably ranked second in total defense. When Smith came to Atlanta, the Falcons were dead last in the NFL against the pass and 20th against the run. Now through through games, the Falcons have vaulted up the rankings to ninth overall against the run.
It is obvious that Smith’s presence is transforming this putrid defense for the last few years into something that could eventually be grouped among the elite in the NFL.
What Smith has done has been nothing short of incredible as he has given us a glimpse of something special on defense with the performance thus far, but one of his assistants must receive credit to what we are seeing happen on the defensive side.
Oct 23, 2014; Hertfordshire, UNITED KINGDOM; Atlanta Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox (right) and wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie at practice at the Arsenal Training Centre in advance of the International Series game against the Detroit Lions. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Bryan Cox was may not be the most heralded defensive line coach in the NFL, but it’s clearly seen that his teachings have catapulted the abilities of the guys anchoring that defensive line.
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Adrian Clayborn and Vic Beasley owe a lot of their early successes to the man who has taught them a little of what made Cox a very good defensive lineman in his playing career. The best thing is these players are young enough in their careers to continue to wreak havoc from the ends.
With Beasley on one side and Clayborn opposite of him, the Falcons have the tools to build a feared defensive line with Grady Jarrett and Jonathan Babineaux inside.
The assistant coaches are never publicized unless they vault themselves into supremacy or they lead their units to inferiority. With the Falcons, it is appearing that these two assistants have taken a much maligned squad and is cultivating them into the bedrock for a team that must rely on defense.
The old adage of “defenses win championships” has never been more accurate, and the Falcons have set themselves on the fast track to those championships with the improvements made to the defense.
At the end of the year, “Quinny” will get all the accolades for raising this franchise out of the cellars, but he will be the first to say that he could not have done it without his assistants. And it’s these two who have made the biggest improvement to the Falcons.