Atlanta Falcons: Better 2015, Reed or Durant?


Atlanta Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff and the rest of his staff decided to play it cool in the 2015 NFL Free Agency period, opting to bring in good scheme fit role players rather than throwing money at falling stars.  It wasn’t a headline stealing FA period for the Falcons this year, but that was fine by the folks in Flowery Branch.  A new coaching regime was in town and most of their emphasis was on building through the NFL Draft.

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Two of the main free agents the Atlanta Falcons acquired this offseason were LBs Brooks Reed formerly of the Houston Texans and Justin Durant formerly of the Dallas Cowboys.  Many questionable personnel moves to the linebacker corps over the last few years decimated a once proud unit into arguably the weakest in the NFL.

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  • By also bringing in a franchise caliber pass rusher in Vic Beasley with the 8th overall selection in the NFL Draft, Atlanta definitely made some moves to bolster its LB unit.  With possibilities for both Reed and Durant to start for the 2015 Atlanta Falcons, who has the better season for the Dirty Birds?

    Reed spent his first four NFL seasons in a talented front seven down in Houston.  Playing alongside DE JJ Watt, LB Brian Cushing, and even DE Jadeveon Clowney, Reed was able to start 52 of his 60 games played with the Houston Texans.  Given that rookie OLB Vic Beasley will play a hybrid role at the LEO, it still see Reed playing on the same side right behind Beasley at LOLB for most of 2015.

    Durant had a promising 2014 with Dallas cut short by injuries, only appearing in 6 games for the Cowboys.  What I like about Justin Durant is his versatility, as he has been able to play all three linebacker positions in a 4-3 defense.  I would say though that he’s had his best success at ROLB and should factor in their for the Dirty Birds this fall.

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    Though he’s not as obvious of a starter as Reed at this point in his career, given that the Atlanta Falcons often start former UDFA’s in its LB group, it wouldn’t shock me to see Justin Durant climb up the depth chart and win a starting linebacker job in Richard Smith‘s defense.

    To me, the Atlanta Falcons linebacker corps is really a catalyst for this defense.  We know that there is young talent in the secondary as HC Dan Quinn and AHC Raheem Morris look to bring the Legion of Boom to the Dirty South.  And we also know that the elephant in the room for this defense has been the non-existent pass rush these last few seasons, so that’s constantly on everyone’s minds until it’s not an issue anymore.

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    But should the LB corps elevate its play in 2015 to close to the top 2/3’s of the league, perhaps Atlanta’s defense could improve enough to get the Atlanta Falcons back into playoff contention.  Atlanta has two great teachers of how to play linebacker in DC Richard Smith and former San Francisco 49er Jeff Ulbrich coaching the LBs.  So for this year’s unit to have bite, both Durant and Reed will have to play well.

    It’s close as like both of these new Atlanta Falcons linebackers, but I would say at this point Brooks Reed will have the better season over Justin Durant just because he will likely start and get more snaps.  But should any injury happen in the Falcons LB corps this fall, expect Durant to come in and start in possibly multiple roles.  Here’s to an improved defense in 2015.  Training camp is only 8 days away!  Rise Up, ATL!

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