Atlanta Falcons Blog

Atlanta Falcons blog by D. Orlando Ledbetter, the pro football and Atlanta Falcons reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Unit-by-Unit analysis: Defensive backs

FLOWERY BRANCH -- The Falcons reclaimed the NFC South title and became NFC champions for just the second time in franchise history.

The Falcons, calling themselves a Brotherhood, had a major breakthrough in Dan Quinn’s second season as head coach before collapsing in the Super Bowl LI in grand fashion against New England by blowing a 25-point lead.

The offense soared to new heights and the young and marauding defense made great strides over the course of the season.

We continue our unit-by-unit review of the 2016 team with the defensive backs:



Who: Starters – LCB Desmond Trufant, RCB Robert Alford. FS Ricardo Allen (ERFA). SS – Keanu Neal. Backups – CBs Jalen Collins, Brian Poole, Deji Olatoye (ERFA), C.J. Goodwin and Blidi Wreh-Wilson (UFA). S – Dashon Goldson (UFA), *Kemal Ishmael (UFA) and Sharrod Neaseman.

Contract/free agent situation: The Falcons’ No. 1 offseason priority is to negotiate a contract extension with Trufant.  Allen and Olatoye are exclusive rights free agent.  Wilson, Goldson and Ishmael are set to become unrestricted free agents. Ishmael, a valuable reserve, wants to test the open market.

What they did in season: Collins stepped up after Trufant went down with a torn pectoral injury. Alford moved over the left cornerback and Collins took over the right side. Poole, an undrafted player, was a force at nickel back and blitzed well off the corner when called upon. Alford returned an interception for a touchdown. The hard-hitting Neal provided the defense with a physical presence and the ability to cover tight ends. Allen was much more comfortable at free safety during his second season as the starter. Ishmael was playing well before his injury. He could leave in free agency. Goldson was basically veteran insurance after Ishmael went down.

What they did in postseason:  Alford returned a Tom Brady pass 82-yards for a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Poole had two sacks against Green Bay, but was victimized in man-to-man coverage in the Super Bowl. Collins had a big forced fumble against the Packers.

Comment: The Falcons really like their top four cornerbacks in Trufant, Alford, Collins and Poole.  Neal is a winner at strong safety and they may try to upgrade at free safety with a faster player.


Monday: The Quarterbacks

Tuesday: The running backs and Wide receivers

Wednesday: The tight ends at 10 a.m. and offensive line at 2 p.m.

Thursday: The defensive line at 10 a.m. and linebackers at 2 p.m.

Friday:  The defensive backs at 10 a.m. and special teams at 2 p.m.

The Falcons Cheerleaders made the trip to Super Bowl LI.



Falcons focused on moving forward after Super Bowl collapse

With Saban's approval, Falcons hire Steve Sarkisian to replace Kyle Shanahan

Falcons' Quinn fires assistants Smith, Cox

Falcons promote Keith Carter to running backs coach

The Super Bowl collapse could stunt the young Falcons' growth

SUPER BOWL LI: Patriots 34, Falcons 28 -- OVERTIME

Five things that change the outcome of the Falcons' Super Bowl loss

What quarterback Matt Ryan said after the Atlanta Falcons' collapse

What coach Dan Quinn said after the Super Bowl defeat

Super Bowl nothing but heartache for the Falcons

Championship near-missed in Atlanta sports history

A new low for Falcons, a new low for Atlanta

REPORT CARD: Falcons earn low marks in Super Bowl collapse


Falcons advance to Super Bowl and make it look easy

Ryan turns Collins' thief into found money

Falcons win a crowning moment for owner Arthur Blank

Falcons 44, Packers 21: What Aaron Rodgers said


5 things that changed the outcome in the Falcons' win

The ascendant Falcons make short of Seattle  -- Column by Mark Bradley

Falcons have been transformed into team Atlanta has waited for -- Column by Jeff Schultz

Falcons rock the Dome with a playoff victory -- By Steve Hummer

Falcons' Julio Jones hobbled, but gets best of Sherman

Falcons use 'spies' to corral Russell Wilson

Falcons' offensive line turns in strong game

Pereira: Falcons' Julio Jones scored on an illegal pick play

Reader Comments ...

About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.