Fans Shouldn't Worry About Falcons Secondary

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Fans Shouldn't Worry About Falcons Secondary
Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, Bleacher Report's NFL National Lead Writer Michael Schottey wrote a piece on why the Atlanta Falcons "young" secondary could be their downfall in the 2013 season.

On the surface, it's easy to see why such contentions are made. Atlanta's pass defense ranked just 23rd in the NFL last season against the pass, allowing 242.4 yards per game. 

Over the offseason, the Falcons unloaded Dunta Robinson and saw Brent Grimes take his talents to South Beach. 

Now, the Falcons will very likely start a rookie at cornerback opposite of Asante Samuel

It's easy to see why one might look at those facts and confidently claim the team is in a heap of trouble, but here's where, with all respect to the wonderful work of Schottey, the assumption that this secondary is even a liability is off base. 

We're essentially talking about one position: starting cornerback. Dunta Robinson was never much of anything for the Falcons. He would disappear in pass coverage, and he was an upper body injury waiting to happen when defending the run, despite his thumper mentality. 

Thomas Dimitroff wanted to see something different at that position, and he got two drastically different players to egg it on in training camp and preseason to take over the position.

Desmond Trufant, the first-round selection out of Washington, is potentially a lockdown cornerback, but he hasn't been nearly as impressive in July and August as the second-round pick from SE Louisiana, Robert Alford. 

Alford is a more aggressive, athletic corner. He has hops that could raise Grimes' brows, and he exudes confidence. 

Regardless of the upside, the story is still to Schottey's point: starting a rookie cornerback is always a cause for concern.

But, here's where the angle loses its edge. 

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Robert McClain isn't a household name around the country, but he's already considered a staple by Falcons fans.

Aside from the Trufant/Alford battle, the Falcons secondary is as solid as they come. 

Thomas DeCoud and William Moore are both Pro Bowl safeties, and Asante Samuel is anything but youthful. The veteran is still showing signs of being a ballhawk, as reinforced by his interception of Joe Flacco in the most recent preseason game (granted, it was tipped by DeCoud).

Atlanta's nickel position is held down by Robert McClain, and while he may not be anywhere near a household name, McClain has already become a fan favorite in Atlanta. He's as good as any other nickel back in the league. 

As far as statistics go, the Falcons were top-five last season in turnovers forced and scoring defense. Why? Their secondary. 

When opposing offenses got in the redzone, tossing touchdowns became a chore. Also, the secondary made the likes of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Eli Manning look mediocre at best. 

Mind you, Robinson was never in on the action. 

The true problem with the Falcons defense is one that still needs to be addressed, and it's in the trenches. The Falcons were terrible with rushing the passer last year, and replacing John Abraham's 10 sacks with Osi Umenyiora's six is still a questionable decision that will need to be justified, and quickly. 

Jonathan Massaquoi, Malliciah Goodman, Cliff Matthews and Stansley Maponga absolutely have to elevate their game and develop if the Falcons are going to be a Super Bowl contender this year. 

But, Moore, DeCoud, Samuel and Trufant or Alford should make for one of the most exciting secondaries in the entire league. 

Stats are stats, but sometimes they don't tell the entire story. 

If we want to play that card, though, the Falcons held the Super Bowl champions to only 188 passing yards and 61 rushing yards in a preseason game where the Ravens starters played into the third quarter. 

Until the fourth, where the Falcons let their final roster spots play out, the Falcons had only allowed one touchdown, a 77-yard reception by Torrey Smith where Samuel and Moore made rare angle mistakes. 

Other than that play, Joe Flacco went 6-for-8 for 41 yards and an interception. 

Atlanta's starters beat the Ravens starters 20-7. 

Sure, Atlanta still has a lot to prove if it wants to finally reach a Super Bowl, but I'd be hard-pressed to push the panic button on the team's secondary.

This isn't the 2012 New Orleans Saints defense. 

Mike Foster is a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist and local sportswriter from Atlanta. Follow Mike on Twitter

 

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