The Falcons defense has struggled mightily this season. The loss of three defensive starters for an entire season (four now if you include Derrick Shelby) certainly didn’t help their cause. But it’s fair to say they didn’t live up to the hype this season.
Defensive coordinator Marquand Manual did some media availability yesterday, and lucky for us, the talented Jeanna Thomas was there. Manuel talked at length about Damontae Kazee and his maturation process. A big part of that process has been the evolution of his tackling technique. When asked how that happened, Manuel had this to say:
“[Getting better at tackling] is the hardest thing. But I always say this: if you’re able to thud a guy. Let’s take it in that simplest form. It is harder to thud a guy in practice than it is to actually to tackle a person. Why? Thud I can’t take you down; normally I can use my momentum, grab you, drag you, pull you, something like that. ‘Thud’ you I have to hit; get to you, hit you, and then run my feet ... the league only gives one time a week to wear pads and things of that nature. But you have to have the illusion of how can you put your body.”
Manuel went on to use Jeanna and D. Orlando Ledbetter in what we’ll call a verbal illustration of good tackling. In short, he said he’d need to put his body through DOL’s and not stop until he reached Jeanna. So that’s fun.
The Falcons defense has five games to right the ship. Momentum means something, so it’d be nice for the young guys to finish on a high note, even if the playoffs are essentially off the table. Manuel gets paid to develop these guys, and it’s interesting to hear how he teaches good tackling technique, given the NFL-imposed limitations he has to work around on a weekly basis.