Do Da Dirty Bird: D-Line Looking Like "Giants Lite"

John McCurdyCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2009

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 14: Defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux #95 of the Atlanta Falcons sacks quarterback Brian Griese #8 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on September 14, 2008 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

When it comes to defensive lines in today's NFL, it's safe to say the New York Giants take the cake.

There's no doubt in my mind that the Vikings' and Cowboys' units are elite, and as always, Pittsburgh and New England make it into the conversation, but the G-Men's front four won a Super Bowl, lost their biggest name, and then got better.

So comparing the Atlanta Falcons' trenchmen to the Giants', even if I do use the qualifier of them being the "Diet" variety, is a decent accolade. And a lot to say at this point in the season, but it's not unwarranted; the similarities are striking.

First, look at John Abraham and tell me he doesn't remind you a bit of a combination of Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. Like Strahan, Abe brings veteran leadership to a young group, and like Osi, he's a presence on every play.

All three are as tough as nails; he was merely "probable" for yesterday's tussle with the Dolphins, yet still recorded two sacks and made a nifty jump-back move to bring down Ricky Williams as he was getting away.

At tackle, we've got a couple of young guns in Peria Jerry and Trey Lewis to approximate Barry Cofield and Rocky Bernard. Peria, assuming his rib injury is minor, has a chance to contribute just as much as Cofield did during his rookie year, albeit in a different way: Cofield is a run-stopper, while Jerry is a rusher. Lewis mans the middle similarly to Bernard in that both are nearly mistake-proof.

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As for our Chris Canty, I'll see that and raise you a Jonathan Babineaux. Much like my man Demondre' was saying not too long ago in one of his articles, Babs is underrated in a huge way. He's a clog for sure, but more importantly, he has athleticism that lends him versatility; he showed it off yesterday with a big tackle for a loss.

To me, Lawrence Sidbury is the spitting image of a developing Mathias Kiwanuka. He can play end or outside linebacker, he can come from a standing position or three point stance, and he makes plays both behind the line and in the second level. Time will tell if Sid gets enough playing time to make good on the potential he showed in the preseason, but the skills are there.

In terms of depth, we can't match the Apple, but we can offer up Chauncey Davis and, if he ever decides which player he wants to be, Jamaal Anderson to the Blue Boys' Dave Tollefson and Fred Robbins. Perhaps it is Jam's destiny to emulate Robbins rather than be a standard off-the-edge terror; maybe someday he'll be a great glue guy for all the troubles he's having now.

And who is the Birds' Justin Tuck? Glad you asked, I've been itching to love me some Kroy Biermann.

Anyone who saw him play yesterday cannot possibly be doubting Falcons brass' decision to maintain faith after selecting him in the fifth round in 2008 and watching him battle Maurice Lucas in the offseason. Kroy was an absolute monster yesterday, sacking Pennington twice and getting a massive special teams stop en route to five total tackles. It's good to see him get the starting nod so early; looks like the staff knows what's best for long-term success this season.

Yesterday's season-opening victory over Miami wasn't surprising ("immensely satisfying" would be a better way to put it). But my eyes most certainly were opened by the way in which we won it: Defensive domination.

The line turned into a pile the second the ball was hiked, preventing Ronnie Brown from cutting up the middle, and we stopped Williams on the outside seemingly just in time each time. Lots of credit to the starting linebackers, who were one-two-three on the Falcons' list of top tacklers, but the line proved to be the perfect complement to the active 'backing corps. And note that it was a lineman who picked up all the sacks and all four tackles for a loss.

My Dirty Birds have plenty of tests to pass this season, including the Pats in two weeks (where it will be the secondary that needs to step up), but this front four has me excited.

Excited enough to start making comparisons to the greatest line in ball.


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