FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons defensive end Kroy Biermann, with his newfound reality-show celebrity, could benefit from defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s new attacking style of defense.
However, Biermann is reluctant to talk about the TV show about his wife, Kim Zolciak, and his family,
even though he tweets about it fervently and it is seen by millions across the nation. He wants to keep his football and the reality show separate.
“I can’t talk about that,” Biermann said.
When it was noted that everybody knows about it and that he plays for the Falcons. He laughed and said “maybe” he could discuss the show later.
But one thing is clear, Biermann’s athletic skill-set appears to fit the Falcons’ defensive scheme nicely.
He has been asked to play in a hybrid linebacker/defensive end role. He may play from a three-point stance or he may play standing up. From either, he can rush or drop into coverage in Nolan’s new world order for the defense.
“It’s a high-energy, high-octane and fast-paced defense,” Biermann said. “It’s going to be exciting. The guys are picking it up quickly. Once you know the defense, you can play fast. It should be an exciting year.”
It’s not entirely new for Biermann, who dropped into coverage some in Brian VanGorder’s defense.
“There is a lot more flavor to it this year,” Biermann said. “But, you just have to be in your playbook, learn it and know it, so that the coordinator will be comfortable enough to call it.”
Biermann, 26, who was a fifth-round pick out of Montana in 2008, is set to enter his fifth season in the NFL. At 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds, he has been a major contributor on special teams and has flashed some big-play ability.
He intercepted a pass and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown against Chicago last season. He had an acrobatic tip and interception against Cleveland in 2010 that he returned 31 yards for a touchdown.
Biermann had five sacks in 2009, but just 5.5 over the past two seasons. He finished with 34 tackles last season, according to the coaches’ film review.
Biermann, who signed a three-year contract during free agency that’s potentially worth $12.15 million, wants to elevate his entire game.
“I need to get more sacks,” Biermann said. “I’ve got to stop the run. I’ve got to do what I’m supposed to do on special teams. I just have to go out there to play football. That’s what they brought me back to do.”
The Falcons clearly have high hopes for Biermann.
“When you’ve got guys that can play with their hands in the ground and in a two-point stance, that gives you more flexibility,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “That’s something that Mike [Nolan] has done wherever he’s been as a defensive coordinator. He wants to try to make it complex for the opposing team.”
Biermann won’t be the only hybrid defensive end/linebacker.
“There will be certain defenses where you’ll be surprised who’s got their hand in the ground and who’s standing up in a two-point stance,” Smith said.
Defensive assistant Mark Collins has some insight into the evolving defense.
“It’s going to be a little bit more flexible on third downs,” Collins said. “There’s going to be a lot more pressure and a lot more versatility in coverage as well. Everybody is excited about it.”
The key to the unit’s improvement will be the development of young veterans such as Biermann, free safety Thomas DeCoud and strong safety William Moore.
“They’ve learned how to be NFL players,” Collins said. “They are taking it to another level at his point. You can see it in their games out there. They are playing with a lot more confidence. … It’s exciting to see those fourth- and fifth-year guys’ progress.”
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog