I'm asking some odd questions tonight: when will the Atlanta Falcons defense get some respect? And who is going to help them get it?
The last time the Atlanta Falcons had a First Team All Pro player on their defense was 2010. Only six NFL teams have waited longer. (The Washington Redskins have waited the longest; their last First Team All Pro on defense was Wilbert Marshall in 1992.) In 2010 John Abraham, the Falcons' last First Team All Pro on defense, racked up 13 sacks while forcing two fumbles. Just think about that for a second. Now keep thinking about it. Do you even remember what that felt like? Having a player that dominant and that recognizable on defense is truly a gift. Pundits raved about him, fans swooned, all was right in the world.
Dan Quinn and company are asking you to sit back and trust them, no matter how uncomfortable it feels. For now, they've carefully set a plan in motion to fix the defense. To be frank, because I have to be, I'm on board and cautiously optimistic. Still, what they're missing is that truly elite player that just elevates the entire unit. Coaches can only do so much.
One player comes to mind: Desmond Trufant. I'm absolutely appreciative of Tru's contributions, but I want more. Of the players that currently comprise the Falcons defense, he seems like the most logical choice. He's established himself as one of the NFL's best cornerbacks and finally made the Pro Bowl in 2015. What's more, quarterbacks actively try to avoid him and he holds his own in the running game. He had a couple of game changing plays in 2015 but only one interception.
I fully realize the intangibles Tru brings to the table (his lack of targets effectively shuts down one side of the field) but I want more. Call me selfish or call me foolish, but I'm convinced Trufant has more left in the tank, enough to be a 1st Team All Pro. Will that designation do anything meaningful for the rest of the team? Yes, I think it will. Tru will need to elevate his game, however slightly, to get there. In the process, he will make everyone around him that much better.