PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 17: Asante Samuel #22 of the Philadelphia Eagles runs back an interception against the Atlanta Falcons during their game at Lincoln Financial Field on October 17 2010 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Remember the days when the Atlanta Falcons secondary was a perpetual punching bag? Remember how for five straight off-seasons, draft experts across the land said the Falcons should expend first round picks on cornerbacks? Of course you do.
Those dark days are all but over. By adding Asante Samuel to a secondary that now includes Brent Grimes, Dunta Robinson and promising young corners like Dominique Franks, Chris Owens and Darrin Walls, the Falcons have stocked their roster with quite a bit of cornerback talent. Add in talented by inconsistent Thomas DeCoud and crazy explosive William Moore at safety and just a pinch of a brand new, more aggressive coordinator, and you've got yourself a secondary to be reckoned with.
The benefits of this are manifold. First of all, the Falcons will trot out a ton of nickel packages, which puts Grimes and Samuel on the field at the same time. Both are noted ballhawks, and will make life uncomfortable for opposing quarterbacks. A better secondary will also hopefully give the defensive front a little longer to get after the quarterback, something the team could sorely use as it tries to coax a better pass rush out of the players it used a year ago. That's not a lock, but it's certainly a possibility.
The Falcons can also offer interesting looks to other teams. They can put Dunta Robinson in the slot and give him a chance to use his physical style there, play Grimes or occasionally Samuel there as ballhawks or give Dominique Franks some run while rotating starters outside. With three corners, they can afford to deploy Samuel in more zone coverage, which is his bread and butter.
It will be interesting to see how the team deploys Samuel, who didn't exactly thrive last year with the Eagles but remains a talented cover corner. Regardless of how Nolan does it, though, this is a team that is suddenly better on defense with a single addition. Tough to hate on that.
What do you think of the secondary now?