Dan Quinn told the press on Monday that the Falcons are not interested in bringing in any outside help to fill the void left by the injury to Ricardo Allen. He joins Keanu Neal and Deion Jones as the third defensive player to hit IR. Instead, they will use a combination of players already on the team to replace both Neal and Allen at the safety spots.
It starts with Kazee who will be the full-time free safety. The San Diego State product has proven to be extremely valuable since being drafted in the fifth round of the 2017 draft, and Quinn should be comfortable with him as the last line of the defense.
Where things get complicated is finding a capable fill-in for Keanu Neal. For that, there is no obvious choice.
Quinn said the plan is to initially start Richards at strong safety. Richards was a former second-round selection of the Patriots back in 2015. He played in 31 games including 7 starts for the Pats before being traded to Atlanta this offseason for a conditional pick. When Atlanta made that trade, they certainly were not expecting Richards to be starting week four, but they are sure glad they have him as an option now.
However, Richard did not live up to the expectations of a typical second-round pick. His time in New England was short-lived and he was on the verge of being cut prior to the trade. He has a fantastic opportunity to resurrect his career in Atlanta, but I don’t think Falcons fans should have their hopes too high.
Poole made the Falcons as an undrafted rookie in 2016 and it didn’t take long for Quinn and the Falcons to realize they found a diamond in the rough. Poole was a key piece of the secondary that went to the Super Bowl his rookie season and has served as the starting nickel corner ever since. He’s a player that is a bit of a hybrid already, with solid coverage skills, a willing tackler and is even tied for the team lead in sacks with two. If toughness and experience are what Quinn is looking for at strong safety, Brian Pool would be the guy.
This is one of those under the radar players that have been with the organization forever. Originally drafted in the seventh round by the Falcons back in 2013, Ishmael has carved out quite a career for himself in Atlanta. From special team standout to starting safety, to linebacker, he can do a little bit of everything like Poole. The Falcons probably planned on using him more as a linebacker than a safety this season, but that is part of the reason Ishmael has been able to continuously make the cut.
Tandy, a sixth-round pick in 2012, spent his first six seasons with the division-rival Bucs. Over that time, he was primarily a reserve, but did tally 15 starts and has racked up 8 interceptions. He was also a special teams standout for the Buccaneers. Unfortunately for Tandy, he was cut by Tampa Bay to make way for some younger players. He was signed by the Falcons on September 10th in response to the news that Keanu Neal would be out for the remainder of the season.