After what seemed like a dodged bullet via Desmond Trufant’s shoulder injury — Head Coach Dan Quinn declared the superstar CB as day to day and very close to playing against the Cardinals — Adam Schefter dropped a bombshell in the wee hours transitioning from Saturday night to Sunday morning.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Desmond Trufant went from “day to day” to out for the season in a cruel boomerang of bad news.
There is no sugarcoating it, this is a destructive loss for the team. Trufant is a pro-bowl level CB who has been the only consistent contributor on the defensive side of the ball since 2013 (when he was drafted).
Because he isn’t one to trash talk (like Richard Sherman and Josh Norman), Desmond Trufant is often forgotten about in the discussion of the league’s top cornerbacks. However, throughout all of last season he only saw 56 total targets, the fewest in the NFL (via PFF) — garnering massive respect from opposing teams’ QBs.
This year, he has started shadowing the opposing team’s best WR and has done a great job taking away the opponent’s most dangerous weapon, for the most part. It makes everyone else’s job on defense so much easier when a talented corner can do a good job shadowing the opposing team’s best WR.
Atlanta won’t have that luxury anymore. That’s why it’s up to another key position group, the defensive line, to make up for Trufant’s absence.
The pass rush for the Falcons has made strides from being ranked bottom 3 in total sacks each of the past three years, including dead last in 2015. This season, the birds have a total of 24.0 sacks going into week 13 — that’s good for 15th in the league, a far cry from the unit that totaled just 19.0 sacks all of last season.
This leap can largely be attributed to the explosion of second year DE/OLB Vic Beasley, who is currently fifth in the NFL with 9.5 total sacks (just 0.5 back of second place), and tied for first in forced fumbles (4; along with Oakland’s Bruce Irvin and Atlanta’s own Keanu Neal).
More from Atlanta Falcons News
- Falcons: Arthur Blank doesn’t think Matt Ryan is a Hall of Famer
- 4 Atlanta Falcons facing make-or-break 2023 season
- 5 Receivers the Atlanta Falcons could pair with Drake London
- A Lamar Jackson contract would not “ruin” the Falcons future
- PFF has the Atlanta Falcons landing these three top 50 free agents
With such a young and inexperienced secondary featuring three players that are either rookies or in just their second year (SS Keanu Neal, CB Brian Poole, CB Jalen Collins), and starting FS Ricardo Allen who’s technically a third year player but is just playing in his second actual NFL season (year one was fully spent on the practice squad), it’ll be up to the pass rush to step up and make life a lot easier for those young guns that represent Atlanta’s last line of defense.
So many deficiencies can be masked by quickly getting to the quarterback. In this passing league, not pressuring the QB is an absolute death sentence.
Last season, Atlanta was 24th in total passes defended with 61. This year, they’re 16th with 49 passes defended through 11 games. The Falcons are also 11th in forced fumbles this season with 11 through 11 games, as opposed to 25th last year with 12 through a full season.
Last year, of the teams that finished top 10 in sacks, nine made the playoffs. The two teams that led their conferences in total sacks met in the Superbowl. This year, of the teams that are currently in the top 15 in sacks (including Atlanta), 14 are either in the playoff picture of firmly in the playoff hunt (Arizona being the lone exception).
Constantly there’s been that talk of brotherhood permeating within the Atlanta locker room this season. When one player goes down, it’s up to his brothers to step up for the good of the team, in his absence. Now it’s up to the defensive line to make yet another stride in their brother’s absence.