The Falcons defense has lost multiple players to major injury. Keanu Neal is arguably the biggest loss of them all.
When considering who is the Most Missed Player for the Atlanta Falcons, it is a toss-up between three of their best defenders. Deion Jones, Ricardo Allen, and Keanu Neal. Since there is a possibility for Deion Jones to return this season, he technically won’t be the Most Missed Player.
Its more than clear how much Jones is missed on the field but the Falcons could’ve at least escaped either the Saints game or the Bengals game with a win if either Neal or Allen would’ve played. Although, the Falcons were well on their way to losing the Saints game before Allen went down.
To decide who the Falcons miss more is a matter of what is viewed as more important. Allen was the glue to this defense. He’s underrated, even by most Falcons fans but he’s the one that made sure the defense was in the right place mentally, the majority of the time.
He understood the playbook, what Dan Quinn and Marquand Manuel wanted to do as a defense; as well as understanding most offenses, from his years of experience as a reliable starter for the Falcons. When it comes to mental preparation, Allen’s worth cannot be understated. A player doesn’t go from being cut to starting in the Super Bowl for no reason. Ricardo Allen is the real deal.
What he may have lacked in physical ability (which wasn’t much), he made up for, with football IQ. The defense has looked utterly confused without him out there. Mental lapses everywhere. It can easily be argued that Allen’s injury is the most important of them all.
More from Blogging Dirty
- Atlanta Falcons are the perfect fit for Leonard Floyd
- 3 Largest Atlanta Falcons 2023 dead cap hits
- Atlanta Falcons trade up for a quarterback in this full mock draft
- Atlanta Falcons: 3 trade packages to land first-overall pick
- 3 Reasons the Atlanta Falcons shouldn’t fear Derek Carr and the Saints
However, there’s the mental side of things and then there’s just X’s and O’s and that’s where Keanu Neal comes in. Neal was essentially the lid on the defense. He was an extra defender in the box but he also eliminated a lot of potential big plays. He was the ‘eraser.’
Neal allowed the Falcons to play a certain style of football that requires an elite level of athleticism at his position. Without him out there lurking around, the Falcons defense has been a shell of themselves. There are holes on this defense that just weren’t there when Neal was on the field. Damonte Kazee has played more than well but you just can’t replace what Keanu Neal brings to the table.
It’s hard to completely explain the importance of Neal. He was the rare player that could essentially play as an extra linebacker while also having the ability to cover receivers down the field. Usually, a player can do one or the other, Neal could do both. The Falcons would’ve fared better pairing Neal with Kazee than pairing Allen and Kazee, and that is why I think the loss of Neal is worse than the loss of Allen.
So many injuries to important players make it difficult to decide who the Most Missed Player is. The Falcons have lost some of their best talents, in the first four weeks of the season. To make matters worse, most of the injuries have come on one side of the ball.
The Falcons have almost won every game they’ve played this season, even with the injuries. It’s hard to deny having Keanu Neal on the field would have undoubtedly changed at least one or two of those three losses.