Who is the weakest link on the Falcons defense?

488180930358 bengals falcons

Due to the influx of offensive talent in the NFC South, the Falcons’ defense will be pressed to improve from 2019. Not only have the receiving cores of every division rival bettered, but Carolina has brought in Matt Rhule and offensive guru Joe Brady — the man responsible for LSU’s revolutionary 2019 offense. And of course, don’t forget the addition of arguably the best quarterback of all-time, Tom Brady, who takes over a Buccaneers offense loaded with firepower

Atlanta’s defense is littered with unknowns, particularly in the secondary. Injuries have taken their toll on the team’s safeties, and the consistent Desmond Trufant is no longer with the Falcons. At safety, Dan Quinn will be expected to roll out Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen, who have both suffered from the injury bug over the past two seasons. However, even more questions linger on the outside. At cornerback, rookie first-rounder AJ Terrell will have to step in and start from day one. It’s difficult to tell how ready any rookie is to make the jump to the NFL, but since the Falcons took him 16th overall, they clearly have a lot of faith in him. However, opposite of Terrell lies the most significant unknown on the defense — Isaiah Oliver.

Oliver’s rookie campaign left many to believe that he will eventually be a starting-caliber corner, but he lost confidence during the start of his sophomore season as teams threw away from Desmond Trufant and towards the second-round pick with little to no resistance. However, half-way through the season, Quinn made coaching changes, moving Raheem Morris to the defensive side of the ball, and Oliver’s technique saw vast improvements, prompting coaches to compliment his development.

His lack of production can be attributed to shaky technique. He’s only recorded one interception and one forced fumble in his two seasons, but Joe Whitt detailed how that technique improved over the latter half of the season, “I thought over the last eight games he did a really good job of connecting his feet and his hands in his press game,” Whitt said. “He stayed more square. That gave him the ability once they got up the field to connect at the top of the routes.”

Inconsistency is a stigma that hampers many NFL careers. Oliver will be tested early and often to see if he retained his newly acquired skills. If he continues to make strides in press coverage, it will lead to production on the stat sheet. Whitt wants Oliver to focus on creating takeaways now with the belief his improvements are here to stay. “We’re going to make sure we can pull the ball of people,” Whitt told Atlanta Falcons.com.

Going into his third year, Oliver will be assuming the duties of CB1 with little experience and even less production. Quinn believes in him, but many have suspicions regarding his ability to compete against the likes of Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and DJ Moore. Vaughn McClure of ESPN tweeted that Dan Quinn believes Kendall Sheffield can eventually be a No. 1 corner, but this enthusiasm can be misleading. Quinn doesn’t have a choice but to count on these young players to defend the All-Pros in the NFC South, so he wants them to know he believes in them. Only time will tell if Oliver has what it takes.

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: