The Atlanta Falcons should avoid switching to a 3-4 defense


The Atlanta Falcons struggled on defense during the 2018 season after the defense suffered multiple injuries to Pro Bowlers Deion Jones and Keanu Neal, as well as defensive leader Ricardo Allen.

During the 2019 NFL off season, the Atlanta Falcons added several key additions to the defensive line including Tyeler Davison, Adrian Clayborn, and Ra’Shede Hageman. Bring back Clayborn and Hageman were huge for the Falcons as they played well during the Falcons playoff push in the 2016 season.

While all three defensive lineman have the versatility to play with the 3-4 scheme, they have played at their best in a 4-3 defense. Projected defensive tackle starter Jack Crawford also has the versatility to thrive within a change to the overall scheme.

However, what the Atlanta Falcons is a monster 340-pound nose tackle to eat up blocks. The Falcons have talent on the defensive line but do not have the personnel to successfully complete a 3-4 defense. The Falcons defensive tackles are typically lighter in order to push the pocket for their current 4-3 scheme.

The defense was made popular by former Broncos assistant coach Joe Collier who once stated that the key to the 3-4 defense was “The nose tackle and the inside linebackers, those are three guys that are very important. But when you go through it, the nose tackle is probably the single-most important guy”

While Grady is great at what he does, he is not Tony Siragusa nor B.J. Raji, who were both stout nose tackles for the Ravens and Packers, respectively.

In order for the Atlanta Falcons to convert into a 3-4 defense they have to make changes with their personnel and do not have the cap space to do so. The Falcons have a daunting task of re-signing Julio Jones, Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones to new contacts in the near future. All three skipped OTAs but attended the Falcons mini camp. Another player they will have to re-sign is Pro Bowl TE Austin Hooper.

The Atlanta Falcons have four important players they need to give extensions to before the 2020 off season. Another issue they have is Deadrin Senat is the only defensive tackle under contact for the 2020 season. The Falcons are in talks with Grady Jarrett about a new contract and gave one-year deals to Tyeler Davison and Ra’Shede Hageman.

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In order for the Atlanta Falcons to switch to a 3-4 defense they will have to overhaul in the off season. They do not have the cap space to make the changes. With Matt Ryan in his prime the Falcons do not have the time to convert to the 3-4 defense.