Appropriately enough, Dan Quinn’s focus was elsewhere Monday, though he did spend some time talking about Damontae Kazee. Here’s what you need to know from the head coach’s typical Monday presser.
Deion Jones’ foot injury
Dan Quinn says they held Deion Jones out of practice with a sore foot. #Falcons— William McFadden (@willmcfadden) September 10, 2018
This one will ring a few alarm bells, because a Falcons defense without Jones or Neal is not a Falcons defense I relish watching. We won’t get our first real injury update until Wednesday, something that Dan Quinn acknowledged, but the “sore foot” phrasing makes it sound like it’s a minor setback rather than an injury that would leave Jones unable to play against Carolina.
Obviously, this bears close watching. The defense just isn’t as quick or as lethal without Jones, and the Falcons have to play against a Carolina squad that runs the football often between Cam Newton, C.J. Anderson and Christian McCaffrey.
Why the Falcons signed Steven Means
This is a pretty succinct summary, but the only one you need.
#Falcons coach Dan Quinn said DE Steven Means will add to the pass rush.— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) September 10, 2018
Means was a monster in the preseason for the Eagles, registering multiple sacks as a defensive end for that mean Philly defense. He was supposedly a tough cut for the Eagles to make, and as the fourth or fifth defensive end on this Falcons defense, it’s not clear how many opportunities he’ll get right off the bat.
That said, the Falcons are smart to do something. Takk and Brian Poole got sacks and we saw some solid pressure up the middle, but Vic Beasley once again had a relatively quiet game, and Brooks Reed and Derrick Shelby in particular didn’t offer a ton off the edge. Means may not get on the field right away, but the Falcons will find a way to use him if he looks promising, especially with the pass rush becoming even more important with the likely dropoff in coverage that comes from losing Keanu Neal.
Damontae Kazee is the guy
We don’t exactly know how the Falcons will divvy up safety snaps at this point, with Brian Poole potentially becoming a factor down the line given his physicality and the potential for Isaiah Oliver to emerge at cornerback sometime this year. But it’s fair to say that Kazee will be a huge piece of the puzzle, no matter what.
Dan Quinn: "We have a lot of faith in Kazee" when it comes to stepping into a bigger role with Keanu Neal out.— Jason Butt (@JasonHButt) September 10, 2018
This would ring hollow if we hadn’t seen Kazee play this preseason and then against the Eagles, where despite some adventures he managed an insanely difficult open field tackle and a murderous hit that popped the ball loose for Deion Jones to intercept. Allen and Kazee isn’t quite the duo that Allen and Neal were, and it’s a virtual certainty that Kazee won’t be as good as Neal in any one aspect of his game this year. But even if he get 75% of the way there, the Falcons will be in pretty good shape, and I believe he can.