The Atlanta Falcons have endured a nightmarish doomsday scenario at the safety spot in 2018, with FS Ricardo Allen and SS Keanu Neal both now on IR.
The once-excellent depth will now be thrust into the starting spotlight, if Dan Quinn’s Monday presser holds true.
Kazee will replace Ricardo as Dan Quinn said— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) September 24, 2018
Damontae Kazee will take over for Ricardo Allen at FS. Dan Quinn says Keith Tandy and Kemal Ishmael will back-up Jordan Richards at SS.— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) September 24, 2018
So, the plan now is for FS Damontae Kazee and SS Jordan Richards to man the safety spots, and for newly-acquired SS Keith Tandy and former safety-turned-linebacker Kemal Ishmael to slot in behind Richards. You’d figure slot corner Brian Poole will also factor in for a few looks here, particularly as rookie CB Isaiah Oliver gets more comfortable.
Actually, that might work out nicely. Oliver’s growth could be a huge boost to help cover the injuries here, as it would give the team some flexibility in the slot to let, perhaps, Robert Alford fall back there and let Oliver man the outside. That’d let Poole play more safety, where he’d be a natural fit with his tackling ability.
As for any new faces at the position, well, it’s a different story.
Dan Quinn said the Falcons won't trade or sign someone for a starter's role right now at safety.— Jason Butt (@JasonHButt) September 24, 2018
So, those dreams of the team trading for star FS Earl Thomas or signing a free agent like Eric Reid don’t appear to be coming true, at least for now. The team is notoriously cagey when it comes to personnel, though the plan ahead makes sense for what Atlanta typically does under Quinn. If Kazee or Richards falters, that may of course change in the coming weeks.
The Falcons are darn lucky they had the depth to withstand losing their starting tandem, even from a roster standpoint. They have options now, though the plan in place now doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence. Richards is a smart player who has made some costly errors while in Atlanta, though he could settle over time. Kazee has electrifying potential, but is still learning learning how to play with the proper level of physicality and tackle within the bounds of what the NFL allows in 2018.
It’s not perfect, but how can it be when two starters go down at the same position?
For now, this is what the team has to work with internally. We’ll see if it works, and if they’re wise to ignore adding an outside option.