Sturdy D' Helping Surprising Falcons

Glynn McGeheeCorrespondent IOctober 15, 2008

The Atlanta Falcons were a popular pick among NFL analysts before this season to be the worst team in the NFL.  To this point, the Falcons are 4-2, matching their entire number of wins from last season.  The Falcons have rightfully become a feel good story for the NFL this year.  While the Falcons may not be Super Bowl contenders, playoff hopes are not out of the question.  In any case, the franchise appears to be headed in the right direction.  Thus far, a lot of the credit given to the Falcons improvement has been given to offensive players.  Rookie QB Matt Ryan, league leading rusher RB  Michael Turner, and WR Roddy White, who is an emerging star at WR, and new coach Mike Smith all deserve credit.  But what about the Falcons Defense?

No one expected much of anything from the Falcons defense, but several factrs have led them to play solid defense.  Firstly, the Falcons linebakcers.  The linebackers are a solid group overall compared to any NFL team.  Veteran Keith Brooking, who is a team leader and one of the good guys in the NFL, finally got the chance to move back to his natural position of weak side linebacker.  Brroking had been playing in the middle for the last few seasons.

Defensive Line: this has perhaps been the most impressive piece of the Falcons defense thus far.  DE John Abraham is finally healthy and is having a fantastic year leading the NFL in sacks with 7 so far.  2nd year player Jamal Anderson (by the way its awesome to have a Jamal Anderson on the Falcons again) is settling into the NFL this year.  He got his first career sack last week against the Bears and is turning into a solid DE.  Overall this group had done a good ob of putting pressure on QBs and defending against the run.

Secondary: this group is the least experienced part of the Falcons defense.  The Falcons secondary has given up some big passing numbers in a few games this year.  However, the secondary has shown promise too.  The Falcons have a few young but talented CBs in Brent Grimes, Chris Houston and David Irons.  They've all gotten burned on routes before but have also shown progress and potential.  The Falcons do have a respected veteran presence in the secondary too in Lawyer Milloy.

Next up for the Falcons is the Eagles on October 26, yet another test to see how serious of a contender this team is.  The rest of the Falcons schedule is pretty tough with games against the Broncos, Chargers, and Bucs.  But there are also games against the Raiders and Rams lurking in the schedule too.  This Falcons team has a chance to do something special this year and help Atlanta forget about the disaster that was last season.