I wrote earlier today that I am firmly in the camp that believes a good pass rush will do wonders for a poor coverage secondary. So did the Falcons improve enough with their signing of DE Ray Edwards to compensate for a lackluster secondary?
Nope. Not there yet. Last year the problem for Atlanta was that Dunta Robinson did not perform at anywhere near to a shutdown CB. Not that there are many true shutdown CBs in the NFL, but when your d-line has trouble getting to the QB, the secondary becomes exposed.
Last year I kept thinking that at any moment Dunta was going to show his worth; never saw it manifest on the field. Not that Dunta sucked; for from it, but I would say that the threat of the possibility of Dunta being special actually kept Dunta from being completely exposed. That and the other side of the field was considered more fertile ground.
Last year’s underwhelming d-line and a suspect secondary forced Atlanta into a prototypical bend but don’t defense, which was a nice concept, however the problem with that approach is that you give up big yards, while holding your breath that you keep the opponent off the scoreboard. I think it is the same mindset as the dreaded prevent defense, except over the course of any entire game instead of the closing minutes of the 2nd or 4th quarters.
Why even gamble? I say attack the QB; penetrate the backfield to disrupt the QB and running game, which in effect means limiting a team’s ability to control the clock.
This approach will never work if the secondary cannot do its part. While the Falcons made a splash going after Dunta, he has not lived up to his contract, which means no matter how much pressure Edwards and the rest of the d-line can put on the opposing QB, the Falcons will simply be exposed if the secondary cannot stop opposing receivers from catching the ball. This article hits the nail on the head …
According to Football Outsiders, Asomugha had a 55 percent success rate in coverage during the last three years, while Robinson’s was less than 44 percent.
He has 14 career interceptions, but hasn’t picked off more than two in a season since his rookie year.
Robinson had an unspectacular year in his first season in Atlanta. He is a solid, above-average cover corner, and definitely not worth the $8.5 million he will make this year alone.
Playing opposite of Dunta is the athletic and overachieving Brent Grimes. Yes, he had a nice year, but I am still not sold on the athletic approach vs. pure ability. To me Grimes is best suited as a backup, and maybe as a nickel back in certain passing situations.
It will be interesting to watch the next few days to see if Atlanta’s front office attempts to make another splash and shore up the secondary, or if they believe that the d-line is going to get to the QB enough to limit downfield shots on Dunta and company.