Improved Safety Play is Behind Atlanta’s Defensive Success

When Brent Grimes went down in the closing minutes of the week one contest against the Kansas City Chiefs many thought it wasn’t anything serious. He was able to walk off completely under his own power and even though he was limping it didn’t seem too bad. The bad news came early in the week following the game. Brent Grimes had torn his Achilles. Within a blink of an eye Atlanta’s secondary went from being very deep to a very big question mark. Dunta Robinson had a bad game against the Chiefs, thanks to Dexter McCluster, and all of a sudden the scapegoat for the most embarrassing loss in recent franchise history Chris Owens, was now going to be playing nickelback. Add this to questions that we already about Thomas DeCoud being a viable starter at FS, and if William Moore would be able to stay healthy for a full year.

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With these questions hanging over the secondary, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos were looming in the week two match-up on Monday Night Football. Pundits and experts alike were predicting that Peyton Manning would surgically pick apart the depleted Falcons’ secondary. What happened instead? The Falcons picked off Peyton Manning three times consecutively. The first two INTs were by none other than William Moore and Thomas DeCoud.  Moore would continue to make his presence felt that night as he had a key sack late in the game that forced the Broncos to punt on a key drive that could’ve turned the tide in Denver’s favor.  Moore was later named to Pro Football Focus’ Team of the Week for Week two for his outstanding play.

A week later the Falcons traveled to San Diego. The Chargers had Antonio Gates returning to the line up. All throughout the week experts predicted that Gates would have a big game. Instead, Antonio Gates was shut down by Thomas DeCoud and held to only 22 yards on 3 catches. DeCoud not only shut down Gates he also jumped his routes and picked off Phillip Rivers twice. DeCoud’s great day didn’t end there as he also recovered a key fumble on a Chargers drive that had reached the redzone with Atlanta only leading by six. This really helped return momentum back to the Falcons’ sideline. Later in the game DeCoud made a diving deflection to break up a potential TD pass. He was simply all over the place in the passing game and continued his great performance from week two and was named to PFF’s Team of the Week for Week three. William Moore also made his presence felt late in the game by forcing a fumble in the redzone. This was the third straight game that Moore forced a turnover.

DeCoud and Moore are giving Atlanta a presence in the middle of the field when they need it the most. Not only are they making their presence felt in pass defense but they are also getting in good reps in run defense. William Moore was able to force a fumble and both DeCoud and Moore have recovered key fumbles. To reach the Super Bowl, Atlanta will need great play from their safeties and the fact that Moore and DeCoud have stepped up speaks volumes about Mike Nolan‘s effects on the defense as a unit. Atlanta must continue to get great safety play from both DeCoud and Moore going forward if they want to get deep into the post-season.

In case you missed it, make sure you check out our contest we have going on this week. Whoever comes closest to guessing the score of the Falcons/Panthers game this weekend will win a new book about the Falcons by Ray Glier and Knox Bardeen!

 

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