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Mike Nolan Explains Why the Defense is Awful: Injuries, Youth and Thomas DeCoud

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Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan spoke to ESPN's Vaughn McClure this week. Nolan gave some of the typical responses to questions about why our defense is bad at everything. Injuries, of course. Tons of rookies playing, sure. Oh, and Thomas DeCoud. Thomas DeCoud is why our defense is atrocious.

Thomas DeCoud
Thomas DeCoud
Kevin C. Cox

I would recommend reading the entire article here. Nolan mentions a number of players who played well, are improving or were injured. Same old coach-speak, nothing negative about anyone.

Then he talks about the safeties.

It’s really more of an individual thing. I thought that William (Moore) played more like he did a year ago than T.D. (Thomas DeCoud). T.D. had some struggles, and most of them were in the tackling area. Although it’s ironic he had his best tackling game ever at San Francisco. I was kidding him the other day and said, `If we played in California every week, you’d be in the Hall of Fame,’ because he played well at San Diego (2012).

Wow. For me, it would feel pretty good to hear Dirk Koetter say, "I don't know what Harry Douglas is doing out there. We think he bets on the opposing team." Maybe that is for another article.

The most notable thing here is the coaching staff is not happy with DeCoud's performance. Anyone who has watched the Falcons this year, or just about any year, knows DeCoud is bad at tackling. You don't even really need to understand football to know the guy wearing 28 is not playing well.

But now we know his poor performance has nothing to do with his role in the defense, as the guy who sets his role in the defense decided to name DeCoud as the one guy who did not play up to snuff this year.

DeCoud snuck into the Pro Bowl last year after making some plays in the secondary (some good, some bad) but finished 2013 with six interceptions and nine pass deflections. This year DeCoud has zero interceptions and two pass deflections. He still has the bad plays but the good plays are few and far between.

There is some disconnect between DeCoud and his performance. He has shown an ability to be a top safety but more frequently shows a tendency to be one of the worst. His poor tackling and other struggles (my money on DeCoud's terrible angles and poor coverage) have finally caused one of the coaches to call out his play to the media.

I'd put my money on free safety being near the top of Thomas Dimitroff's wish list this offseason. Keeping DeCoud around for another year and hoping he isn't the weak spot in our defense is less realistic than the giant jumbo jellyfish in Birdemic 2.