FanPost

Falcons 3rd Down Pass Defense: LB and Curtis Lofton Edition

The Falcons defense ranked 29th in the league in 3rd conversion percentage last year; it was no secret that Falcons struggled to get off the field on 3rd downs. With the emergence of the Tight Ends and Running Backs as top receiving threat, the LB pass coverage skills are even more important in modern day NFL. Last year, Sean Weatherspoon (90 TA) was the most TA defensive player followed by Curtis Lofton (TA 85). Lets dig deeper and grade the LB unit in coverage on 3rd down conversions, first downs and also find out how justified Mike Nolan is on Lofton being a two down LB.

Name

Snaps

TA

Rec

Ct%

Yd

TD

3rd Stop

3rd Conv

3rd Stop %

1st Downs

1st Downs/TA

1st Downs in Scoring Drives

Forced Punt

Forced FG

Curtis Lofton

1008

85

65

76.4

550

5

5

14

26.3%

28

32.9%

21

3

1

Sean Weatherspoon

998

90

65

72.2

558

2

14

10

58.3%

24

26.6%

15

13

1

Stephen Nicholas

286

22

15

68.8

103

0

6

4

60%

6

27.2%

4

5

1

Mike Peterson

218

12

8

66

66

1

1

1

50%

2

16.6%

2

0

0

Spencer Adkins

35

3

3

100

15

0

2

1

66%

1

0%

0

1

1

Third Down Stop %(Higher the Better):

The credit for 3rd down stops is given only if the player had a direct contribution (PD, Interception, Tackle and FF) to the stop.

1. Sean Weatherspoon was a force on stopping 3rd downs(14 stops) with a 3rd down stop % of 58.9 even after playing more than 90% snaps.

2. Curtis Lofton 3rd Down Stop% of 26.3% was only higher than James Sanders (16 %). Lofton had only 5 Third down stops compared to 14 Third down conversions allowed.Stephen Nicholas maintained his 60% 3rd down stop % in 2011 after having the best 3rd down stop% in 2010.

3. Nicholas had more 3rd down stops in coverage than Curtis Lofton even though he played just 28% of total snaps.

Forced to Punt(Higher the Better).

1. Sean Weatherspoon's team leading 14 Third down stops forced the opposing teams to punt 13 times last year. This is no surprise as Spoon was usually in spotlight after blowing up RB or TE in coverage on 3rd downs.

2. Stephen Nicholas forced other teams to punt 5 times last season despite playing just 28% of the snaps. He finished with more forced punts than Lofton.

3. Curtis Lofton forced only 3 Punts last year, this is no surprise as Lofton allowed 14 conversions to only 5 stops.

Forced FG(Higher the Better).

1. Sean Weatherspoon, Curtis Lofton, Spencer Adkins and Stephen Nicholas all forced 1 FG each after a successful 3rd down stop.

1st Downs/TA%(Lower the Better):

1. Sean Weatherspoon allowed first downs on only 26% of the TA, good enough for 1st among LB and second among the whole team.

2. Stephen Nicholas allowed first downs on only 27% of the TA. He is probably the most underrated Falcons LB. Mike Nolan should probably increase his load next year if he is healthy.

3. Curtis Lofton allowed first downs on 32% of the TA, most by a LB.

Sean Weatherspoon was the leading play maker among LB with 14 stops on the third downs. Lofton on the other hand was a liability on Third down pass coverage allowing team leading 14 third down conversions. I guess it’s fair to say, Mike Nolan probably was not impressed with Curtis Lofton's Third down coverage credentials and thus the two down LB tag.

<em>This FanPost was written by one of The Falcoholic's talented readers. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The Falcoholic.</em>

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