The Falcons are in a very good place with their run defense, if Pro Football Focus’ Atlanta-centric Twiter count has any say in it. We’re not really used to writing about quality Atlanta run defenses.
#Falcons top 5 run defense grades (since '06):— PFF ATL Falcons (@PFF_Falcons) June 4, 2018
2017 Keanu Neal - 89.3
2007 Lawyer Milloy - 88.1
2012 Dunta Robinson - 88.1
2017 Grady Jarrett - 87.7
2011 Sean Weatherspoon - 87.4
You’ll see fun names from Falcons’ past (shout out to Lawyer Milloy), but two of those names, Keanu Neal and Grady Jarrett, are current Birds, and will be fixtures to the team’s defense for years to come. As you see, Neal posted up an 89.3, while Jarrett notched in an 87.7 for his grade.
Neal and Jarrett are monsters at whatever they do, and it’s wonderful to see them hold this kind of history. To be rather blunt, the Falcons’ run defense has stunk for years, so for them to be in a time of revival in that department is too encouraging. Sure, losing Dontari Poe won’t help going forward, but the tandem of Terrell McClain and Deadrin Senat should at least make up some of the ground.
Guys like Deion Jones, De’Vondre Campbell, Vic Beasley, Takk McKinley, Ricardo Allen and Kemal Ishmael all help out against the run, too, and the corners help when they can. This is one of the best groups of run defenders the team has had in quite some time, with Neal and Jarrett leading the charge.
It’s honestly a bit bewildering to even consider “Falcons” and “good run defense” in the same sentence, but this is the Dan Quinn era of Falcons football. We’re allowed to do that now! It’s pretty cool, to be honest!
Be thankful we’ve got this lineup, which only stands to get better as time goes on. We can’t wait to see what this defense is capable of in 2018, particularly with the running back groups in the NFC South looking fairly strong going at the moment.