If you look at Atlanta's defense the past several years you can see it's an up and down defense. Some years it has more sacks but can't stop the run. Some times it's barely average but gets key turnovers. And then, cough ahem, there was last year. Injuries and poor individual play led to a bad defense. This is where it sounds strange to say this but I want to give props to Mike Nolan and I am confident that the 2014 defense will show great improvement. I think that in the next 2-3 years we'll be looking at a 49ers/Seahawks type of brute force intimidating defense that breaks the will of its opponents.
The reason for this optimism started with disappointment. We didn't get Mack and we didn't get Clowney. Then we didn't get a number of other Edge Rushers which almost all of us Falcoholics are certain that we need. But we did get Hageman. Hageman? Head scratching. Well okay so what are the Falcons up to? Turns out that they want to make the defense strong in the middle which should improve the linebacker and secondary play and maybe even turn up a sack or two. I've heard clips of Dimitroff discussing not getting an Edge Rusher and going with Hageman instead. Dimitroff says that Nolan was very vocal before and during the draft and he and Smitty want to build the defense from the middle out. TD says of course Nolan and every DC wants a Clowney but it didn't work out and a stout middle is very effective.
I was very glad and impressed to hear the Nolan got his say and got some players suited to his defensive scheme. I knew Nolan was better than the 2013 defense showed and a brief review shows that Nolan is actually very good at drafting and adding players for what he wants to do. Nolan may have not been suited to be a Head Coach the first time around but he certainly developed the blueprint and got some great players that benefited the 49ers recent defensive success. He got Justin Smith to join up with Nolan draftees free safety Dashon Goldson and linebacker Patrick Willis. With all the new additions to the Falcons defense - here's hoping we'll see such success soon as well.