The Falcons weren’t good at a lot of things in 2018, but they identified their run defense as a major liability for a reason. They only held opposing offenses under 100 yards five times, allowed two 200 yard rushing games, and were embarrassed frequently. They wound up 25th in rushing yards allowed and 21st in touchdowns, as well as 28th in yards per attempt.
Stopping the run isn’t—and shouldn’t be—the priority it once was, but it’s a key part of a balanced defense, and having capable run defenders who can also rush the passer in a pinch is a nice thing. That’s why the signings of Tyeler Davison and Allen Bailey were praised when the Falcons managed them, and that’s why Dan Quinn is so excited about them today.
Dan Quinn on Tyeler Davison: “We’re excites. We’re really excited.” #Falcons— William McFadden (@willmcfadden) August 19, 2019
The Quest to Rebuild the Offensive Line sucked up most of the oxygen this offseason, but the Falcons quietly (and relatively cheaply) rebuilt their defensive line rotation, as well. Grady Jarrett is an absolute stud, but in Davison and Bailey, the Falcons have two proven veteran defenders with long track records of run-stopping prowess. Their additions give the Falcons’ younger defensive linemen a chance to learn on the job with less pressure, and shores up that run defense in a major way.
Bailey’s been established (and well-known) for a while now, but Davison has flown under the radar despite a few strong seasons in New Orleans. He graded out as an above average run defender for the Saints last year, so losing him is likely to have an impact on New Orleans (however slight) while benefitting Atlanta, making it an ideal signing.
Everywhere I turn there’s something about this Falcons team I like (except right tackle, at the moment), and that does concern me. But I doubt Davison and Bailey will be the guys to fall short of expectations, and that should mean we blissfully get an improved run defense in 2019.