SportsTalkATL’s Mailbag Monday: (1/25)

jarrett grady
Thoughts on coaching hires other than Arthur Smith? (@spencerlee_02)

Dean Pees will be something completely different from Dan Quinn in that they have two different defenses. It isn’t to say one is better than the other, but Pees will bring in a scheme that fans aren’t used to seeing. Marquice Williams was behind Jamal Agnew, becoming one of the best return men in football; winning in all three phases (offense, defense, special teams) is critical for success. Dave Ragone will coach the quarterbacks, even if he’s the offense of coordinator, and Charles London is listed as quarterbacks coach.

The best hire, in my opinion, is Dwayne Ledford. Mehki Becton and Garrett Bradbury are two products of Ledford; he should have the offensive line playing much better than this past year.

If you had to make a trade for one of the three franchises, what would it be? (@dylan_stroudd)

It would either be for the Braves or the Hawks. The Braves are so close to a championship; I would probably do something like trade a few top prospects for a stud at third base like Jose Ramirez or Matt Chapman. They are affordable, controllable, and would give the Braves the best offense in baseball for years to come.

I would have to consider at least making a blockbuster trade for the Hawks, though. They have a superstar in Trae Young, but you need two or three to win in the playoffs in today’s NBA. Pairing him and John Collins with another All-Star like Bradley Beal would make the Hawks a real contender. To be honest, I was really hoping Travis Schlenk snuck himself into the discussion for James Harden before he was dealt to the Nets. I don’t care if there is only one ball — Young and Harden are ballers, and they would have been hell on opposing defenses in the playoffs.

I was wondering if you could go over the differences between a 3-4 and a 4-3 defense and why you recommend we switch? (@AJtheburner)

This is referencing the base 3-4 and 4-3 defenses, not sub-packages. The main difference between the two is personnel and terminology. In the 3-4, there are three down linemen with four linebackers behind them. Generally speaking, 3-4 calls for a massive nose tackle, whereas a 4-3 doesn’t necessarily need one. The defensive ends in a 3-4 are also bigger than the defensive ends in a 4-3. The outside linebackers in a 3-4 are sometimes smaller than the defensive ends in a 4-3.

In my opinion, you shouldn’t decide which defense to roll with until the defensive coordinator sees the roster. Forming the defense around the roster is a lot easier than the other way around. One thing I would point to is Grady Jarrett and the linebacking core. Grady Jarrett is basically the Dollar Tree version of Aaron Donald. The athleticism of the linebackers would also point to a 3-4. A defense that allows Deion Jones, Mykal Walker, and Foyesade Oluokun on the field at once is a potent one. Mix in the blitz packages for those linebackers; you really do have the makings for a 3-4 defense.

With all that being said, every defensive coordinator plays an overwhelming majority of sub-package defenses. So, regardless of Dean Pees’ desire to run his traditional 3-4, the defense will play most of the snaps in nickel and dime packages.

What do the Braves need to do this offseason for it not to be considered a failure? (@jimmybob)

It’s getting late, and we still haven’t heard a peep from the Braves. However, I still have faith in Alex Anthopoulos and believe significant moves will be made before the season. That said, as far as what needs to be done — the Braves need to find a power bat to protect Freeman. There’s a reason his game has been taken to the next level over the last two seasons, and that’s because Nick Markakis is no longer protecting him in the lineup. It doesn’t HAVE to be Ozuna, but they need something badly.

The Braves also need to round out their bullpen. Unfortunately, all of the really good names are off the market now, but at the very least, Anthopoulos needs to bring back Greene or Melancon.

Who will win more games next season — the Falcons or Titans? (@blaineburreaux)

Great question… can the Falcons new head man lead a turnaround so great next season that they have a better record than his former team — who made the playoffs? I think it’s possible. I believe Arthur Blank got the exact head coach/general manager combination he wanted, and the Falcons really weren’t as bad as their 4-12 record suggests in 2020. That’s not to say they don’t have plenty of places where they can improve, but natural regression alone should give the Falcons two or three more wins in 2021.

On the other hand, the Titans could experience a step backward in 2021. Falcons fans know what it is like to lose an excellent offensive coordinator. No matter how hard the next Tennessee offensive coordinator tries to replicate Smith’s scheme, it will not be the same. The Titans’ defense was also terrible this past season, so unless they improve dramatically in that area, I have a hard time imagining they win more than nine games. That still would require quite the jump from the Falcons, but this is the NFL. Parity is the name of the game, so in my totally unbiased opinion, I’ll give Atlanta the slight edge over Tennessee next season.

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