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Peter King weighs in on Falcons’ high expectations for Takk McKinley, defense

This team is built to be an offensive juggernaut, but it’s little surprise a lot of focus is on the defense.

Super Bowl XLVI Broadcasters Press Conference Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Peter King is one of the most respected and longest tenured reporters in the NFL, which is based partly on merit and partly on knowing everyone far too well to be unbiased. I won’t pick at that last scab too much today, though, given that we’re about to talk about King’s opinions on the Falcons.

Last week, Kelsey Conway with the Falcons caught up with King to talk about what’s in store for 2019. As you’d expect nothing is earth shattering but it’s all fairly interesting with much of the talk revolving around the defense, which is the story line of note with Dan Quinn assuming control and so many question marks about the team going forward. He zeroed in on Takk McKinley, who is entering a pivotal third season when pass rushers typically arrive or fizzle.

“He was drafted to be [the] really strong edge presence,” King said. If I’m them, I need 50-to-60 legitimate quarterback disruptions from McKinley this year. I think that is vital because I think they’re secondary [could] get exposed. This is a crucial year for this secondary and for the pass rush.

Part of that stems from DQ’s expanded role in the defense, which King thinks will translate into more opportunities and better usage for the likes of Takk, Vic Beasley, and Grady Jarrett. For that to happen, Quinn will need to be putting in much more time up front or spending more time making adjustments on gameday, which is where having a very senior offensive staff led by Dirk Koetter and Mike Mularkey, plus new gameday/clock coach Bob Sutton, has to come into play. Quinn and these Falcons figure to sink or swim based on what he can get out of the defense, after all.

King spent more time on the defense and the draft, too. King’s interest in the secondary, which extends to saying he believes the team really needs to solve that issue in the draft, is noteworthy if kinda errant. The Falcons are returning (we hope) a healthy secondary with their top cornerback, top two safeties, and an exciting young hybrid in Damontae Kazee, meaning their needs there are more long-term than immediate. The trenches are where the attention ought to lie, and King is the latest analyst to say that he thinks the Falcons need to get another “franchise” tackle in the draft, something that certainly seems to be in play for #14.

We’ll see if King’s foreshadowing an expanded role for Takk and high round selections at cornerback and right tackle, given his obvious connections to the higher up on this team, or if this just winds up being a forgettable if interesting interview in an offseason defined by them.