The Falcons took a step back on defense in 2018. Injuries to cornerstone players like S Keanu Neal and LB Deion Jones were big reasons, but HC Dan Quinn saw enough other reasons for concern to take over the defensive play-calling for 2019. He plans to make some changes to recapture what made Atlanta tough defensively in their run to the Super Bowl in 2017.
“More than anything the tweaks in the scheme along with the tweaks in the style to make sure we recapture that, I’m going to make sure the things are the most important stay at the front of our thinking and the physicality and the ball-hawking will certainly be some of those,” Quinn said via Kelsey Conway of the team’s official website.
In addition to getting healthy with Neal and Jones returning, some other tweaks the Falcons are making include moving DB Damontae Kazee to nickel corner and adding DE Adrian Clayborn and DT Tyeler Davison to bolster the defensive line. The common thread for all three is physicality.
“Keke brings a lot of that,” Quinn said. “He’s one of the ring leaders of our style. Putting Kazee by the line of scrimmage will do that, his fearlessness will be a part of that. Adding Adrian Clayborn and Tyeler and his toughness, those are small tweaks that are going to pay good dividends.”
“He’s going to be that guy — I can tell. We definitely got a steal,” Adams said via Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal. “I know we got him early, but I still think that he could have gone even earlier just based on what he’s doing out there. He plays like a vet, he knows how to practice, and he’s smart, man. You can tell just the way he operates — the way he’s smart, how he operates just around the facility, just a real cool guy. I like his personality, too. I think we’ll be having him around for a while.”
“Matthews and Weddle both give us a veteran influence coming in, and are both still really athletic and can play their position well, but it gives you a lot of experience,” Phillips said via Myles Simmons of the team’s website. “Weddle especially, I think in the secondary gives you a lot of things that you can do as far as changes and working against our offense, which gives you a lot of problems.”