Weatherspoon will be focal point of Nolan’s defense

 

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56) sacks Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) during the first quarter of an NFL football - Sunday December 5 (AP)

Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56) sacks Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) during the first quarter of an NFL football - Sunday December 5 (AP)

FLOWERY BRANCH – With middle linebacker Curtis Lofton leaving for the Saints, it’s clear that weakside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon’s role will expand under new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.

“I’m not sure exactly what I’ll be doing all of the time,” Weatherspoon said. “I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge. I think I’m ready for that, to do a little bit more and step out there and do some different things. I look forward to the challenge. I think it’s going to be fun.”

Weatherspoon, a former first-round draft choice who is about to enter his third year in the league, had a breakout campaign in 2011.

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) fumbles the ball, stripped by Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56). (Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) fumbles the ball, stripped by Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56). (Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com

He finished with 127 tackles, four sacks, one fumble recovery, one fumble recovery, eight passes defensed and led the team with 14 tackles for losses.

Weatherspoon sensed early this offseason that he could be losing Lofton, his training partner.

In a recent Q&A, Weatherspoon touched on losing Lofton, Nolan’s intensity and on the team turning down an invitation to be on HBO’S Hard Knocks.

ON HIS OFFSEASON: It’s been great. I’ve been back to Texas to visit the family a little bit. I’ve been back and forth and to California for a few weddings. Just having a good time, but at the same time making sure that I’m working out and staying in shape.

ON HIS MEETINGS WITH MIKE NOLAN: We had our first meeting (recently). It will probably be our last one for a couple of weeks. Basically, what it was about was the vision that we see for our defense. We were talking about the cornerstones and what we want our defense to look like. I think it’s going to be a pretty fun year under Coach Nolan.

ON ADJUSTING TO A NEW COORDINATOR: I think it will be a little easier than if we were coming off a lockout year. Now, that we are back, we can get into the terminology of Coach Nolan’s system.

ON HAVING MOST OF THE GUYS PARTICIPATING IN THE OFFFSEASON PROGRAM: It’s a sense of security that everybody is out there doing what they are supposed to be doing. We have a way to be accountable. We trust each other. Just being around the guys, it’s always great to be around familiar faces.

ON WHAT LOSING LOFTON MEANS TO HIM: I figure that I have to be a little bit more verbal. It’s not a problem for me to be in front of the defense making calls. I’m going to be doing that in the third down package a little more. I look forward to it.

Llinebacker Sean Weatherspoon often sends out Tweets.  (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Llinebacker Sean Weatherspoon often sends out Tweets. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

ON IF HIS RESPONSIBLITIES WILL CHANGE: Not really. Just on the third downs, from what I’ve been told, I’ll be the one getting the signals from the sideline. That’s going to be something that’s different because last year I might make a play and have a chance to celebrate a little longer. Curtis would round up the guys and then I would go to the huddle. Now, if I make a play, I have to make sure that I’m looking to the sideline so that I can get the call from coach and get the defense lined up and get ready to go.

ON IF HE CALLED SIGNALS AT MISSOURI: I did do that. . . In my senior year I did move inside some and I set the defense. I went down to the Senior Bowl and [they] asked me to [call signals] and I did that as well.

Falcons rookie Sean weatherspoon, the new owner of No. 56. (AP Photo/Paul Abell)

Falcons rookie Sean weatherspoon, the new owner of No. 56. (AP Photo/Paul Abell)

ON HARD KNOCKS NOT COMING TO FLOWERY BRANCH: A lot of people might think I am [upset] because I’ve been getting some tweets asking what my thoughts were. It’s old news. We passed on it and I look forward to just getting back and getting into the swing of things.

ON REPLACING LOFTON: It’s a tough challenge because Curtis was a great football player. He made a ton of plays. He was a guy that was always around the ball. He was one of the smartest guys that I played with. Akeem [Dent] will get that chance to come in and be that guy in the middle. I think with his attitude and learning ability that he’ll do a great job taking that role. I think it will be fun to see him grow as a player. It will be a challenge because when you’ve had someone who’s been the focal point of the defense for three or four years, it’s going to be hard to replace. We are going to have to work hard together. Coach Nolan has a system in place. And, all of the older guys like Stephen [Nicholas] and even Lofa [Tatupu] coming in with his experience, I think we all will do a great job of moving on.

ON IF HE SENSED THAT CURTIS WOULD NOT BE BACK: I did because we worked out together in Cumming. We saw each other every day. It’s just a business

Elwanda Weatherspoon and her son, Sean, the Falcons unsigned first round draft pick. (Brant Sutherlin/AJC)

Elwanda Weatherspoon and her son, Sean, the Falcons unsigned first round draft pick. (Brant Sutherlin/AJC)

 and you have to treat as such, because that’s how they treat it. I respect Curtis. I had fun playing with him and I wish him the best.

ON HIS FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF NOLAN: I like his intensity. We break every meeting with ‘ready, break.’ That’s something that’s new. You can obviously sense that he’s intense based on that alone. He came into our [linebacker’s] meeting and when [linebacker] coach [Glenn Pires] was teaching us something, he was chiming in. I look forward to working with him a little bit more. I’m pretty sure that over the next few weeks I’ll get to know him a little more.

ON THE KEY TO IMPROVING THE THIRD DOWN DEFENSE: Accountability and trust. I think us trusting in Coach Nolan and his system and becoming more familiar with it. I think we have the veteran guys here that we need in order to set the tone for the guys like myself, the younger guys and new guys coming on to the defense, we can set the tone to let everybody know how important third down is. It was a thorn in [our side] last year. We definitely have to step that up. I look forward to helping out with that as well as other guys, we’ve already been talking about it.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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62 comments Add your comment

fan of falcon

May 8th, 2012
5:18 am

second time I’ve been first and didn’t mention it. Can’t wait for football.

hand

May 8th, 2012
5:55 am

Go Falcons. The falcons will be a top 10 defence this year. Look out nfl.

Hot Bird

May 8th, 2012
6:04 am

Yeah Spoon !!!!!! Come on Atlanta and get up with me ! The Spoon is gonna make a whole lot of scores for us this year !!!! We’ll be jammin’ when he gets that rock and makes evn more scores than last year !!!! Yeah Spoon !!!!

zorro

May 8th, 2012
6:32 am

I still believe that this defence will be better than last year’s. Look at Houston under Wade Phil he turn their D around in one year. So why can’t coach Nolan come in here and do the same thing. Spoon will have another great year along with the rest of the TEAM! Blood,Sweat and tear’s

Jamaaliver

May 8th, 2012
6:35 am

Nice read, Orlando!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 8th, 2012
6:47 am

Jamaaliver — Thank you kindly.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 8th, 2012
6:48 am

fan of falcon – Congrats!

Whadda Know?

May 8th, 2012
6:54 am

Spoon can be something special in Nolan’s defense. He just needs to remember to wrap the player up and stop with the shoulder hits–which isn’t tackling.

Double Zero Eight

May 8th, 2012
6:54 am

The focal point of Noilan’s defense should be a consistent
pass rush. Without one, it’s “more of the same”.

Whadda Know?

May 8th, 2012
6:55 am

BTW DLed, thanks for the regurgitated info. I could have sworn I read this very same information somewhere else. LOL

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 8th, 2012
7:20 am

You can follow Spoon on Twitter: @SeanWSpoon56

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 8th, 2012
7:23 am

Whadda Know? — Spoon spoke to the media before the start of the draft. You don’t get my interpretation until now. I determined it compelling enough to still share with everyone. So, carry on!

I usually just read but....

May 8th, 2012
7:28 am

Attacking LBers. Can’t wait

[...] middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, the Atlanta defense will need a new leader. D. Orlando Ledbetter says it’s going to be Sean [...]

JSS

May 8th, 2012
7:53 am

This means Nolan is under the impression that No. 56 is going to stay healthy for the first time in his career? Wow!

[...] middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, the Atlanta defense will need a new leader. D. Orlando Ledbetter says it's going to be Sean [...]

True Falcon Fan

May 8th, 2012
8:07 am

@JSS some things never change do they, like “Leaky Faucets” they jus continue to “DRIP” — the same ole “water” — ain’t dat right “DRIP” aka JSS

Go Falcons – Go Spoon – Go Coach Nolan

D. Orlando Ledbetter

May 8th, 2012
8:09 am

JSS — Spoon started all 17 games last season.

AlanFalcon

May 8th, 2012
8:28 am

Mike Nolan and the defense will set the tone for the year, the other teams have come into Atlanta in the past knowing that they could take advantage of BVG’s defenseive schemes which were completly bland and vanilla.

Go Falcons and Go Southern Rush !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

True Falcon Fan

May 8th, 2012
8:30 am

Dled,,, this guy JSS never has anything positive to say about any Falcon player or management, half the time he does post some points of knowledge although be it ole hat knowledge. His favor player is Carson Palmer, his most hated QB coach is now the OC in Jacksonville. It’s very funny he would make BS statement of spoon like his 7:53 post with NO merit!

Dled, i appreciate reporting, keep up the good work, i’m lookin forward to upcoming 2012 season, could be special!

Go Falcons

AM

May 8th, 2012
8:58 am

Great timing on the article D! Just when our Hawks are crumbling, we get a really exciting story about the future of our Falcon defense. I wish training camp was televised!

Chop Buster

May 8th, 2012
9:24 am

Go Spoon!! Knock em out this year. Willie Mo will bang em with ya.

Falcon James

May 8th, 2012
9:35 am

The defense got the tools now to make this happen. This going to be a great year.

Ken Strickland

May 8th, 2012
9:41 am

The 1st sentence in the last paragraph says it all, “ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRUST. I THINK US TRUSTING IN NOLAN AND HIS SYSTEM, AND BECOMING MORE FAMILIAR WITH IT.” Is he saying what I think he’s saying? That the cause of our 3rd down inefficiency under VanGorder and his system was due to the players LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRUST IN HIM AND HIS EXTREMELY PASSIVE, ULTRA SOFT PREVENT ZONE DEF SYSTEM AND APPROACH?

The more interviews I see with our players, the more we get a glimps of their views on our former coordinators. It’s like they’re excited about finally having an OC and/or DC that
1-knows how to explain things,
2-shows intensity,
3-actually stresses accountability,
4-has a system that’s been proven to work.

If they’re excited, you know I’m certainly goingto be excited, and excited for them.

larry w.

May 8th, 2012
9:42 am

@ Zorro

I agree completely with your statement. W. Phillips and the Texans defense are a perfect example of a talented defense being used effectively by a good D Coordinator. Those same players that were so tough under Wade last year, ranked among the worse defenses in the NFL before Wade got there!

JSS

May 8th, 2012
9:49 am

@ Ledbetter…
Yeah, that I know… But his track record of health is a lot like the rest of the Dimitroff’s higher picks (the same goes for Moore & Jones). That is why I used a modifier and a question mark! That last statement is not directed at you by the way…

And for the fake Freebirds member…
25-2 still sticking in your craw? Better that QB destroyer be in JAX than in the ATL. You’ve actually have the panties to defend Grabowski?
“His favor player is Carson Palmer” I guess you meant “favorite?” Ha ha ha, what bizarre planet are you on this morning, the blues, the reds, or the little green pills? He was never my favorite, but I watched the QB destroyer almost turn him into Rick Mirer… Don’t forget to let the toilet seat up!

Rev Al Sharpton

May 8th, 2012
9:54 am

I am actually excited about this defense!

JSS

May 8th, 2012
9:58 am

Oh let me not cheat your superior defensive talent, “24-2!”

Ken

May 8th, 2012
10:02 am

WHAT!!! The Falcons cut Ovie Mughelli!!!

JSS

May 8th, 2012
10:09 am

Well good Ovie, now he can find a new team before all of the cap space disappears around the league… Good luck!

Mike Jay

May 8th, 2012
10:12 am

Nice back pedal JSS on spoon being injured….yawn.

JSS

May 8th, 2012
10:26 am

“Back pedal” my tail, if 3/4 learned the difference between inference and questions there wouldn’t be a problem… That emotional crack addict spent 18 weeks talking up his Super Bowl team and whacking at my Mother’s health, to heck with him and his FB colon cleanse diet…

Whadda Ya Know?

May 8th, 2012
10:31 am

DLed…don’t be so touchy man! LOL

Whadda Ya Know?

May 8th, 2012
10:33 am

Hopefully they resign Ovie at a much lower salary cap hit. I don’t know if this Ewing guy will have the same impact as a veteran FB of Ovie’s caliber.

Spencer

May 8th, 2012
10:45 am

Does the Ovie cut project any plans for Turner? I had heard Ovie was expendable because we needed a FB who could get out in the flats and make plays rather than a run blocker. With the shift of the NFL and the Falcons clearly committing to it, could Turner be traded in the near future. I think Quizz could fit perfectly in the new system.
Also, happy for Spoon. Can’t wait to see this defense and entire team play some inspired football rather than watching the “machine” they have been the past couple of years.

MrShields

May 8th, 2012
11:12 am

Good Article D-Led, but there is an Error in the I want to say 3rd paragraph, When you listed his stats. you said one fumble recovery twice…

Mike Jay

May 8th, 2012
11:14 am

JSS, Spoon has missed a few games in two years, Moore has missed 4 in three. Ergo, the point you were trying to make can’t be made. Inferring something or not, it was just wrong because neither player has missed a huge chunk of time. When this was pointed out you claimed you were just being cute…knudge knudge wink wink. We call that backpeddaling.

Sid

May 8th, 2012
11:50 am

Falcons release Ovie…………….handwriting was on the wall.

Dirtybird 82

May 8th, 2012
12:43 pm

Does anyone know of any possible DE’s that may be cap causalties this offseason? We need to sign one that will help build the line up and provide consistent pressure.

Eli

May 8th, 2012
1:06 pm

Thanks for the transcript of Spoon’s interview from 3 weeks ago…

[...] LB Sean Weatherspoon’s purpose in a Falcons invulnerability will expand this season. [...]

[...] LB Sean Weatherspoon’s purpose in a Falcons invulnerability will expand this season. [...]

Enkinan

May 8th, 2012
1:19 pm

I’m fired up to see Nolan’s new scheme in action. 3rd downs made me sick last year.

earl watson

May 8th, 2012
2:36 pm

the atlanta falcons are the 1 team wko keeps trying to get thingsright now i will miss ovie but its time for some championships to come to atlanta we deserve it and so do the falcosn and the real atlanta falcon fans

FalconJim

May 8th, 2012
2:39 pm

“Spoon” can handle it!!! He’s fastly becoming one of my favorite Falcons players.
Good luck this year, Sean, show ‘em what you got!!!

JSS

May 8th, 2012
3:05 pm

“JSS, Spoon has missed a few games in two years, Moore has missed 4 in three. Ergo, the point you were trying to make can’t be made. Inferring something or not, it was just wrong because neither player has missed a huge chunk of time. When this was pointed out you claimed you were just being cute…knudge knudge wink wink. We call that backpeddaling.”

Weatherspoon missed more than 1/3rd of the games his rookie year… In the 11 games that he played, in 5 of those he threw up goose eggs across the board… Now I’ll give him the fact that he was the best player on this team (Grimes’s down time sent him back down)… But that is nothing to aspire to, it is like those hanging their hat on Moore being able stay healthy after 2010. We all see how that turned out…

I don’t have to be “cute.” I asked the question exactly as I meant it… Nolan is trusting him to stay healthy, good luck with that…

JSS

May 8th, 2012
3:19 pm

Mike jay….
“Moore has missed 4 in three. Ergo, the point you were trying to make can’t be made. Inferring something or not, it was just wrong because neither player has missed a huge chunk of time.”

What the? Moore missed 15 of the 16 games in 2009, followed by being fairly healthy in 2010 (15 out of 16), and then missed 5 of 16 in 2012 (He went out on the 2nd series in NY Giants trampling)… Dude, learn to add…

Mikey

May 8th, 2012
3:44 pm

I’m anxious to see Spoon break out this year! He has exceptional talent and continues to improve… like most of the defense. I think they will have a banner year. In spite of how much respect I have for TD, I’d like to see them prove him wrong about defenses not being able to hold a modern NFL team under 10 points or to shut them out. I hope his comments will server as a motivator to this highly talented group of defensive players. If they don’t believe it can be done, all they have to do is watch the first round playoff game between the Falcons and the Giants last year. The Giants shut out the Falcons explosive offense… allowing ZERO points (so it CAN be done). Out Falcons defense showed a bit of what they can do in the first half of that game… they terrorized the Giants until the start of the second half when they totally quit doing everything that was shocking the Giants. Go Spoon! Go Falcons! Prove TD totally wrong on this one… go ahead and terrorize those explosive offenses… I believe you can DO it!

FalconJim

May 8th, 2012
4:05 pm

I just love me some no. 56. Now that’s a real man. I like ‘em tough and rough….just the way I like it. Go “spoon” you hunk of a man. Mr. Ledbetter, when can we Falcon fans see the players at Flowery Branch. I need to see my favorite Falcon players up close..

MIKEDABIRDMAN

May 8th, 2012
5:05 pm

Falcons will have a top 10 defense, guaranteed!!!