Falcons’ secondary has been effective mix of crash, flash

Thomas DeCoud jumps on teammate William Moore after one of Moore's two interceptions against New Orleans recently. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Thomas DeCoud leaps onto William Moore after one of Moore's two interceptions against New Orleans recently. (Jason Getz/AJC)

FLOWERY BRANCH – There’s a pair of mustard-colored Dickies’ coveralls hanging in the Falcons’ locker room, an ugly oversized jumpsuit that seems more appropriate for a guy who’s tearing down walls or nailing up Sheetrock than a professional athlete who shortly after practice will climb into his Mercedes.

Which I guess is kind of the point.

“DBs come to work,” safety William Moore said Thursday, reading the words he wrote in black marker on the suit after purchasing it in downtown Atlanta. “I used to wear those back at Missouri in the winter. I bought that one here, but it was too big. I was going to bring it back, but then I thought, no, I’ll bring it here. It means something. It’s who we are.”

There are a few discernible differences between this Falcons team and ones of recent seasons. The game plans are less predictable. Matt Ryan is more accurate. Julio Jones — less mortal.

But few areas of this team stand out more than the secondary. It’s an interesting mix of crash (Moore) and flash (Asante Samuel: “I’m just swag-100”).

The Falcons have given up yardage in chunks this season — 365.6 per game, which ranked only 24th in the league). But they ranked fifth in points allowed at 18.7. One reason has been the ability of the defense, particularly the secondary, to make drive-changing, game-changing plays.

This is a group that lost its best starting cornerback, Brent Grimes, to a torn Achilles in the season opener. But that hasn’t seemed to matter.

The Falcons’ defensive backs immediately embraced the schemes of new coordinator Mike Nolan. Cornerback Dunta Robinson calls Nolan “heaven-sent.”

Asante Samuel has brought a needed swagger to the Falcons' secondary. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Asante Samuel has brought a needed swagger to the Falcons' secondary. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Consider five opposing quarterbacks that the defense has gotten the best of this season: Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, Drew Brees and Eli Manning. Their combined totals: two touchdowns, 12 interceptions.

They’ve confused some of the league’s best with disguised coverages. They’ve also have beaten three mobile quarterbacks: Robert Griffin III, Michael Vick and Cam Newton.

So when they face the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday’s playoff game, should rookie Russell Wilson be considered a great threat?

“This guy’s different,” Moore said. “He has the ‘it’ factor. The dude can play some ball, and I’m not gassing him up just because we play him. He makes some plays the average quarterback wouldn’t make. He extends plays with his feet.”

Just guessing here: The feet that caused the Falcons their greatest concern are those of Marshawn Lynch. They likely will be focused on stopping the Seahawks’ running back and letting Wilson try to beat them with his arm.

This is a different crew, both in scheme and attitude. Nolan has given defensive backs far more freedom to rely on their instincts than his predecessor, Brian VanGorder. Coverages have been well-disguised, less vanilla.

“We’re not showing our hand,” safety Thomas DeCoud said. “Last year we were stagnant. We would show people what we were going to do before the snap and then just hoped our execution would be up to par. But this year we’ve been able to disguise some things pretty well. It’s been fun because we also have the freedom [to break away] if we see something.”

Nolan changed the dynamic on paper. Samuel changed the dynamic in the locker room. He won two Super Bowls in New England and played in three, as well as four Pro Bowls. He has no equal on the Falcons in either bling or blab-ability.

“He has a huge hand in our attitude,” DeCoud said. “At the beginning we were like, ‘Oh, he said that?  You can say that?’ Everybody has their own way of getting it done. He likes to mess with people’s minds and get them out of their game. More power to him if that’s how you get your job done.”

Moore again: “He has that swagger. I feed off it myself. Sometimes the other team doesn’t respect the humble.”

This isn’t a game-day-only thing. Samuel regularly trash talks in practice, saying, “It keeps me on my game.”

As for the playoffs, Samuel said: “It’s showtime.”

Or work time. In either case, if the Falcons have better results this postseason, the secondary will be a reason why.

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By Jeff Schultz

86 comments Add your comment

Skillet

January 10th, 2013
4:16 pm

(i)(i)(i)(i)st

cjdatl

January 10th, 2013
4:18 pm

I agree. A lot of yards for opposing teams, but not that many points. If Atlanta keep Seattle to fieldgoals, they will kick their a$$es.

Samuel

January 10th, 2013
4:20 pm

I’m confident this crew can go out and make plays. Russell wilson is a good quarterback, he’s really sparked this team. But at some point all rookies make mistakes, I just hope it’s Sunday in the Georgia dome.

Post-It

January 10th, 2013
4:21 pm

Not that it means anything, but heard earlier that Lynch has been held out of practice because of a foot injury. Let’s hope that bunion or in-grown toenail slows him down just a bit on Sunday.

Falcon James

January 10th, 2013
4:42 pm

The Seahawk have been playing well, but I believe the Falcon have been holding back all season. They cut loose on the Saint and Giant. I believe the Falcon will send the Seahawk home wondering what just hit them.

LawDawg

January 10th, 2013
4:48 pm

Greg Cosell made the salient point that the Falcons WRs match up well against the type of coverage the Seattle cornerbacks play (press, but not physical and not much hand-checking). He said he things that White and Jones will be successful in the passing game.

If so, Seattle has no shot and who am I to question Cosell’s film breakdowns? He is one of the best.

After further review

January 10th, 2013
5:06 pm

Looking forward to an Atlanta win this weekend, and next.

Buckeye

January 10th, 2013
5:06 pm

Asante brought the attitude and the swagger. It’s about time we had a respectable pass defense.

Can’t wait until Sunday unless there’s a dog basketball game on between now and then NOT.

GO FALCONS!

DJANGO

January 10th, 2013
5:08 pm

I swear these comments could be cut & paste
From the past five years. It’s starting to sound like
An old scratched record.

woeismesince66

January 10th, 2013
5:11 pm

The Falcons pull out a close one.

Randy

January 10th, 2013
5:32 pm

At this point I’m thinking that the Falcons might be better off to let Grimes walk and use that cap money for other things.

JSS

January 10th, 2013
5:38 pm

But can’t stop Cam Newton and Josh Freeman or teams that decide to run at them (and not stop)… I guess “dumb-downed” is an enigma to them…

chalkdawg4

January 10th, 2013
5:43 pm

I tend to agree Randy. Maybe a couple of big uglies for the OL.

DJANGO

January 10th, 2013
5:49 pm

So if the redskins ranked 5th vs the run and
The beast got 132 yards, what makes you guys
So confident in the 21st rank?

Hillbilly D

January 10th, 2013
6:03 pm

Cue the broken record :lol:

If the Falcons win, they’re going to have to outplay Seattle’s OL. That’s the key to beating the Seahawks, in my opinion.

Larry

January 10th, 2013
6:09 pm

JSS,

When we faced Newton the second time we had aready won the division; when we faced Freeman the second time we had aready won everything else.

No one of consequence likes you or respect you here….no one.

retired

January 10th, 2013
6:12 pm

Thank you Larry.

LOL at The Aints

January 10th, 2013
6:14 pm

Just curious JSS, Do you see any positives on the Falcons going into this game LOL, Its all gloom and doom with you pal,, cheer up, LOL

LOL at The Aints

January 10th, 2013
6:30 pm

Thats what I thought, LOL

jfreak13713

January 10th, 2013
6:41 pm

Rookie QB in high pressure game with crafty vet defense spells Falcons victory!

Larry

January 10th, 2013
6:42 pm

He has but one purpose here and this is to agitate and bestow negativity upon anything Falcon, yet he doesn’t have the courage to back it up with a prediction.

He’s your classic insecure, embittered blog coward. Sadly, he highjacks every single Schultz Falcon related blog in this same manner yet goes completely unchecked by the author much to the chagrin of the readers and participants.

JSS

January 10th, 2013
6:45 pm

@ 6:14 PM…
As I have said all year, Stephen Nicholas is the best value of any player in the NFL… Being the myopic bloggers that you are, you spend too much trying to snarky to even hear compliments when extended… You confuse teams that refuse to run at you middle to right, that is a craft… In terms of offense, you’ve gotten teams to not understand that any routes run from a 3 receiver set that is an intermediate and long route run will always be outside the hash and keep them from committing safeties to take it away… Anything inside is going to TE, a slot receiver out, or RB (3 yards front/back of the line) 92% of the time… That’s a craft, although Carolina and Tampa learned from their earlier mistakes by emulating the first Saints game… Until the last 5 games, they got Thomas DeCoud to stay 10 yards behind the deepest receiver for the first in his career… Of course Carolina and Tampa countered that, so you don’t know what to trust… And you’ve gotten teams to run into a flowing 6 man front that actively influences offenses to think that running left or wide is a way to go… That is craft…

Does that answer question?

JSS

January 10th, 2013
6:56 pm

@ Hillbilly D…
As always…

1990_Champs_GT

January 10th, 2013
7:32 pm

I’m tired of talking about this. We’ve been talking about this since the second half of the Giants playoff game.

Time to shut up or put up. They should beat the Seahawks. The Falcons are the better team.

If they don’t win, then Blank has to hire someone who can.

JSS

January 10th, 2013
7:36 pm

Larry
January 10th, 2013
6:42 pm
“He has but one purpose here and this is to agitate and bestow negativity upon anything Falcon, yet he doesn’t have the courage to back it up with a prediction.”

Oh there is no substitute for ignorance…
JSS
January 6th, 2013
11:40 pm
“It just depends if they (Seattle) decide(s) to take the air of the Falcons offense with a running game and playing from the front… The GA Dome is no louder than the old RCA Dome or Soldier Field at full throat… Said it before, a running game travels… They better come with a better plan “than the Rookie will make mistakes.”

Observant isn’t he?

Benjamin

January 10th, 2013
7:46 pm

Two thoughts:

I. I think the biggest additions to this team were Koetter and Nolan from the past offseason. And I hope they’re coordinating things five years from now. The difference this year isn’t Jones’s maturity, or Samuel’s addition, or anything beyond the fact that we now have coaches that do exactly what was stated in this article as good or better than anyone they go up against week-to-week: gameplan.

We’ve had top-tier talent for several seaseons now. For the first time, we’ve got top-tier coaching to go with it. It really is that simple. Here’s hoping that the minds guiding us do so through the end of Super Bowl weekend…

II. I’m always amused by the bickering that goes on between “fans” in the comments section of blogs, but I guess it’s common enough to where I shouldn’t be.

Stepchild

January 10th, 2013
7:55 pm

Plain and simple…talk won’t tackle Marshawn Lynch. the DB’s better buckle up the chin strap because Beastmode is coming. If Assante thought Chris Ivory was a load…just wait till Sunday.

ed

January 10th, 2013
7:58 pm

So Schultz are we gonna cut them all if we lose Sunday, Like Smith and Dimitroff???

No credibility left after that ignorant article 2 days ago.

Update your photo, it looks like your dad is shooting your videos.

ed

January 10th, 2013
8:00 pm

As far as beast mode coming to Atlanta……. W.A.R. Willymo Always Ready!!!!!!!

http://w ww.youtube.com/watch?v=duwu5BA0hP0

ed

January 10th, 2013
8:01 pm

Answer This

January 10th, 2013
8:18 pm

Really disappointed in you Jeff Schultz….you asked for evidence got it and still allow the same thing on the blog! Really sad! Even if you ignore it bloggers it never goes away! Anyway, I think our secondary will make some more BIG plays in the next two weeks! Lets get a couple picks one early to set the tempo and another in the 3rd to break the spirit of these Seahawks! Lets Rise Up Falcon fans!

Beast Mode

January 10th, 2013
8:18 pm

Tick Tock!!!! Tick Tock!!!!! Tick Tock!!!!!!! Seahawks Win!!!!!

Elderly

January 10th, 2013
8:24 pm

Frankly, I’m more worried about our corners coming up to tackle Lynch than I am the pass coverage. Dunte better be ready to HIT. Do you hear me, Dunte? No willowy arm tackles.

Hillbilly D

January 10th, 2013
8:25 pm

Somebody better caution Dunte about leading with his head.

Answer This

January 10th, 2013
8:30 pm

Why do you know so much about these games the Falcons play yet you sit here and consistently tell us all that you dont watch the Falcons or follow them? Such a sackofpoo lying person! You sit here and told us all about the defense that the Falcons dictate ( by the way dont quit your day job as a google blogger because again you stink at things that you think you know) yet in the same breath you tell us you dont follow the Falcons nor do you care about football or any team. So again you have been dragged to the carpet about your consistent lying! And of course you have no response to this just like yesterday when I called you to the carpet about you are here for the same reason everyone else is! Like I said yesterday everyone is either here to cheer the Falcons or cheer the Seahawks, yet you cant be here for the same reason everyone else is because you dont have a team or you dont have a team you follow. You are such a dishonest lying person.
And in Matt Ryans famous words…..
JSS…..get the eff off our blog!

JSS

January 10th, 2013
8:32 pm

Hadn’t learned the previous 3 times Hillbilly…

And for that idiot still griping, “evidence” worked against you because screenshots of the original statements provided context… Tell you all the time, if you’re going to tell a “lie,” you better learn to tell it convincingly… Even then, reality will always win out over a fantasy…

JSS

January 10th, 2013
8:37 pm

Same reason I know about NE-Houston, GB-SF, and Bal-Den… NFL football, it is an amusement… You on the other hand will continue trying the same failed strategy… I see why you have a Falcons attachment…

JSS

January 10th, 2013
8:39 pm

Oh, I went to dinner (yesterday), so I didn’t care to answer… Anymore fantasies?

Gator CHOMP Champ

January 10th, 2013
9:18 pm

Answer This

January 10th, 2013
10:15 pm

You my friend are a lying sack of poo. Its simple you said it yourself King Idiot! You have no team….such the effing fool! Thats what I was waiting on for you to come back with that same bullskit about it being an amusement…you are the biggest effing fake lying piece of dogskit I have have ever come across! Your nose is so far up Schultz a$$ that you can touch his tonsils! Dinner right! Another lie! And like I said it is proven that you are a lie. It came out your own mouth that you are here like everyone else! You stupid effing simpleton what dont you understand about the statement you made. Keep lying because if you did not slurp Schultz so much you would have been banned by now. And you poor misearable life would be over without this blog! Just once…..once dont post when your Schultz puts up a new blog. You cant! Even when you lie and say you go out of town you find time to.post! What effing idiot does that? Get that brown crap off your lips and nose it looks bad and smells worse…..
o yea…..
Get the eff off our Blog you lying piece of skit!

Hey Now

January 10th, 2013
10:21 pm

DJANGO: Were you not watching that game? The Redskins defense was gassed from being out on the field so long because their Quarterback could not complete a pass for a first down.

DJANGO

January 10th, 2013
5:49 pm
So if the redskins ranked 5th vs the run and
The beast got 132 yards, what makes you guys
So confident in the 21st rank?

Hey Now

January 10th, 2013
10:25 pm

Beast Mode: Don’t forget to set your clock for 10AM on Sunday so that you can watch your beloved Seahawks get their clock cleaned.

Beast Mode

January 10th, 2013
8:18 pm
Tick Tock!!!! Tick Tock!!!!! Tick Tock!!!!!!! Seahawks Win!!!!!

Link Report this comment

JSS

January 10th, 2013
10:54 pm

Yeah whatever, tell therapist the next time you lay on the couch… Nothing funnier than watching you keep rolling that dime store psychology and recrimination act out… Good luck, you need it…

Answer This

January 10th, 2013
11:03 pm

You that need it King Idiot! As Andre 3000 said….two things I hate a person that lies and a thief and your are both! You lie and tou steal from googlr everytime you post! Whats funny is looking at a grown man who continues to lie and gets called out about it yet persist to stick with the lie…..tsk tsk! It is not the 1000 bloggers on here…its you angry lilttle King Idiot….everytime you look in the mirror you hate what you see…lol. that is not psychology…..its truth. I once felt sorry for you…now I know you just a lying, thiefing idiot! Good luck with that! Lol you need it lying thief!

JSS

January 10th, 2013
11:10 pm

Answer This
January 10th, 2013
10:15 pm

“You my friend are a lying sack of poo. Keep lying because if you did not slurp Schultz so much you would have been banned by now. And you poor misearable life would be over without this blog! Just once…..once dont post when your Schultz puts up a new blog. You cant! Even when you lie and say you go out of town you find time to.post! What effing idiot does that?”

Well, I know it was not me, and the columnists and the beat writers know it was not me. That is beauty of communication, let people know you’re not going to be around and then they are kind enough to take of such things…

You have problems, plenty of Schultz blog go without comment, especially college sports ones… Good luck with that vulgarity issue you have… Ask your boy Larry how that generally works out… That is a mental restraint issue, try working on that…

LOL at the Aints

January 10th, 2013
11:14 pm

Well. According to ESPN, JSS and everyone else the Falcons may as well not even show up Sunday, just call in sick,, we dont stand a chance,, We’re F, ed,, nothing to see here, move along,,

LOL at the Aints

January 10th, 2013
11:17 pm

I say we boycott JS blogs until the loser is removed, bye!

LOL at the Aints

January 10th, 2013
11:18 pm

Oh, and thanks for the response at 6:45

Answer This

January 10th, 2013
11:29 pm

You running to your daddy again asking for me to be banned? Lol. Keep it up lying thief it might work!

Answer This

January 10th, 2013
11:33 pm

Try working on wiping that stuff off your nose. You have a sad life where your “friends” are the beat writers for the AJC! Lol. Dude you make yourself out to be the saddest sack of poo many have ever seen! Go ahead say it again like you said the other day about me getting banned…..in.your words….I am still here King Idiot! Lying thief!
@ lol
I am with that suggestion!