Grading the Guys Up Front and the Defense

111111111defenseOffensive Line: B-

The offensive line played a whole lot better than I thought they were going to. Matt Ryan had plenty of time to locate his deep threats down the field. The biggest weakness with the offensive line was in the running game, especially in short-yardage situations.

Defensive End- John Abraham: B

Abraham accounted for 90% of Atlanta’s pass-rush. But unfortunately, his age seems to be catching up with him. His contributions this season certainly did not go unnoticed this season, especially given the fact he had no help around him in getting after the QB.

Defensive End- Kroy Biermann: C+

Kroy is an interesting player to evaluate. I saw him lineup at almost every position on defense. On certain plays he would line up at DE and drift back to the seconday, causing confusion for the opposing QB. However, on pass-rush situations he did not get home often, compiling just four sacks.

Defensive Tackle- Jonathan Babineaux: B+

Babineaux stood out in an underachieving defensive line this season. His contributions were most visible in the run game where he consistently was a disruptive force on the inside.

Outside Linebacker- Stephan Nicholas: C-

Nicholas may have been the weak link on the defense. He was exposed in the postseason, getting torched on passing situations. He seems to lack the agility and speed necessary to keep up in the passing game. He played decent in the run game, his strength undeniable.

Outside Linebacker- Sean Weatherspoon: B+

Certainly a versatile player and a perfect fit in Nolan’s ever-changing schemes. Played one step ahead of everyone else all season. I would love to see him in pass-rush situations more often! He has a relentless motor and always looks like he is having fun out there.

Inside linebacker- Akeem Dent: C

Solid contributor, especially given that it was his first year starting. The Falcons used a lot of sets which did not include Dent, but when his number was called he did a solid job—nothing flashy.

Strong Safety- William Moore: B-

Moore is a great safety in the box, often acting as linebacker. He is undoubtedly the hardest hitting defender on the Falcons. Where I felt he struggled was in the intermediate passing game. Too many times I saw tight ends expose him. Overall, he was a solid contributor.

Free Safety- Thomas DeCoud: A-

Talk about a ball-hawk! DeCoud was extremely impressive in coverage this season. I also saw improvements in his run support, which was a huge bonus. He made the prow-bowl for the first time in his career and he deserved it.

Cornerback- Asante Samuel: A-

Asante added a huge spark to the secondary. I think most of Samuel’s presence was felt with his swagger and the way he approaches the game. The exciting pick-6 against Oakland was indicative of the big-play capabilities he brings to the table.

Cornerback- Dunta Robinson: C-

Huge weak spot in the secondary. He played well in run support but in passing situations he just cannot keep up with solid receivers. Another big disappointing season, however I will say he needs to be playing in the nickel where I think he would be much more productive.


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