The Atrocious Atlanta Falcons Secondary
Many people including myself thought that the Atlanta Falcons secondary would be much improved. Not only due to the team’s two starting safties returning, but the release of Robert Alford was believed to be addition by subtraction.
That was a miscalculation, as his replacement Isaiah Oliver has been even worse. He has constantly gotten turned around in coverage and beaten for big plays. He ranks as the number 84 cornerback in the NFL.
To make matters worse, Oliver leads the Atlanta Falcons defense with four penalties. His play was so bad against Houston that Isaiah was benched in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, the team doesn’t have many better options, so Oliver will probably continue to play and take his lumps. Rookie Kendall Sheffield who replaced Oliver, has looked just as lost in coverage and has earned a terrible coverage grade of 28.1 in 28 coverage snaps. That grade is by far the lowest among Atlanta Falcons defensive backs, and the league’s second worse. Giving more reps to fifth-round pick Jordan Miller couldn’t hurt.
Defensive back Damontae Kazee has been rendered mostly ineffective by a move to the cornerback position. He has struggled to defend the slot to the tune of a 47.3 coverage grade.
Overall Kazee ranks a disappointing number 114 among NFL cornerbacks. He lacks the agility to stay with shifty slot receivers. Taking the 2018 NFL co-leader in interceptions out of the middle of the field where he can be a ball hawk, was a huge mistake by Dan Quinn and the Atlanta Falcons coaching staff.
Now that Kazee is playing cornerback, the Falcons safety play is suffering. Kemal Ishmael has taken over at strong safety with another season-ending injury to Keanu Neal. He has struggled in coverage and is ranked number 88 at the position.
Free safety Ricardo Allen has struggled mightily in his return from a torn ACL. He has often been the Falcons defensive back that has blown his assignment in coverage. The mishaps have caused him to earn an awful coverage grade of 46.8. Allen ranks number 96 among safeties.
Dan Quinn’s Simple Ineffective Scheme
Dan Quinn taking over as defensive coordinator was supposed to lead to an improved unit, but the defense is clearly worse than every before under Quinn. NFL players such as Ron Parker of the Kansas City Chiefs, who is a former Atlanta Falcons safety and Texans Wide receiver KeKe Coutee recently criticized the Falcon’s basic defensive schemes.
They are absolutely correct and the team basically runs cover-three zone or cover-one man for the majority of the game. There are a little cover-two man and cover-two zone mixed in, along with a few zone blitz pressures. There are no exotic blitz packages in the Atlanta Falcons defensive scheme. That worked for Quinn on a Seattle Seahawks team loaded with talent but is not getting nearly the desired results in Atlanta.