With the NFL draft 35 days away and free agency getting more interesting, the Atlanta Falcons look as if they have begun to truly put the right counterparts together on the defensive side of the ball. With additions such as defensive end Tyson Jackson and defensive tackle Paul Soliai, they have certainly taken the the necessary steps to improve a defense that finished 27th in total defense, 21st in pass defense and 31st in rush defense last year.
The Falcons have brought in high-quality players to assist in restoring the Falcons’ defense, however with the additions, the question now becomes what style of defense will they run to best suit their personnel?
It was rumored, through various social media blogs, that the Falcons would change from a 4-3 defense to 3-4, however, head coach Mike Smith wants to use to multiple looks of what he likes to call his hybrid scheme or the “amoeba defense.”
In my opinion, using multiple defensive schemes is the best way and will be key to keeping opposing quarterbacks on their heels on the offensive side of the ball. With the way many NFL teams have changed and created their offenses, that in turn requires opposing defenses to change their overall scheme.
For example, some NFL teams use three, four and five wide receiver sets with running quarterbacks. This requires the defense to send three and four defensive backs in coverage instead of having three or four linebackers waiting on a running play. Not to mention, the rise of the tight end position as an offensive advantage for a team like the New Orleans Saints produces another threat, causing the defense to send another man in coverage.
Atlanta, a team who has to play the Saints twice within the NFC South division, would benefit in running a defense filled with multiple looks to throw off Drew Brees and the high powered Saints offense.
In addition, the 3-4 defense has worked for the Falcons before. Dating back to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan used a 3-4 defense to stop running back LeSean McCoy. Nolan changed Corey Peters to nose tackle and put Peria Jerry and Jonathan Babineaux at defensive ends to stop Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy and win the game.
Within the upcoming season, depending on the offensive scheme of the opposing team, defensive tackle Paul Soliai has the capability to be a true nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. In a 4-3 defense, he can be switched to defensive tackle.
Tyson Jackson has the ability to switch positions as well. Coming from a 3-4 defense where he played defensive end, the Falcons can use him on the edges in a 4-3 defense to stop powerful and explosive running backs. Also, with the help of pass rusher Osi Umenyiora, Atlanta has the ability to switch players in and out to find the best combinations with either defensive scheme.
Thus, running a multiple look defense could really help the Falcons defense statistically in all categories—limiting the run, stopping the pass and getting more pressure on the quarterback. This in turn leads to more sacks and turnovers by opposing offenses, something they lacked in last season.