With the 2018 season mercifully in the rearview mirror, we can look back and reminiscence as we wait for the NFL season to greet us once again, in September.
For the few past few weeks I’ve been counting down the five best offensive players of 2018 for the Falcons. This new series will do the same thing, but focus on what was the weaker side of the ball for the Birds this year — the defense.
Devastating injuries to start the campaign weren’t overcome, as Atlanta fielded a putrid 28th-ranked defense in the NFL. Still, even throughout the struggles, contributors stuck out from the crowd, and at least gave Atlanta a chance on the defensive end.
This will be a weekly countdown of the Falcons’ five best defensive players of 2018, going in order from fifth to first.
Here is the fifth-best defensive player for the Atlanta Falcons from this past season
5) Takk McKinley
Takkarist McKinley had one major thing going for him on Atlanta’s defensive front in 2018 — he led the team with 7.0 total sacks.
McKinley came sprinting out of the gates, recording 4.5 sacks in his first three games played to start the season (he missed Week 3’s matchup against the Saints and racked up those sacks in weeks 1, 2 and 4).
Takk was also second on the team with eight recorded QB hits. He did a fine job of setting the edge and giving the team some semblance of a pass rush in the early going, despite not getting much help from the opposite side.
Following Week 4, however, Takk’s production took a nose dive as he recorded 2.5 sacks in the final 12 games of the season. He finished sixth on the team with 16 run stops and second with 34 QB hurries.
To be completely honest with you, it was difficult coming up with a list of five players from this defense to praise. Takk McKinley slots in at number five almost by default, because so many players on this defensive unit were either awful, didn’t play up to expectations or were injured.
Deion Jones is somebody who definitely would have found himself on this list instead of Takk had he not missed more than half of the season due to injury.
Hopefully McKinley takes that next step in Year 3 and records his first double-digit sack season in 2019.