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Desmond Trufant with a pass deflection to win a game.
2013 Rank: 31st in pass deflections (56), 29th in interceptions (10)
2014 Goal: 85 pass deflections (projects to the top 10), 20 interceptions (projected top five)
Pass defense isn't just getting after the quarterback in the backfield. It's disrupting the passes before they even get to the receivers. Atlanta needs to make sure that it knocks as many balls away and intercepts as many passes as possible so that it can create momentum and stuff opposing offenses.
Atlanta making as many plays on the ball as possible comes from having players who are better in coverage than it had in 2013. So Robert Alford, Desmond Trufant and William Moore have to step up as playmakers in the secondary for the defense to improve.
The big question is who the Falcons bring in for free safety and whether they can retain their improving nickel defender Robert McClain, as he's currently a restricted free agent. Options at free safety have to be instinctual playmakers like every other defensive back brought in under Mike Nolan.
That means the Falcons will have to look to the draft to improve this area. And just like any other area they need to improve, it will take more than just a talent upgrade. They need to have an attitude upgrade throughout the entire team. No more conservative nature is needed. Aggression is how you win in today's NFL.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.