The Falcons suffered two tough losses against the Indianapolis Colts. The first was the loss of a winnable game where the Falcons did everything wrong. The second, and more impactful loss, is Keanu Neal. The defense loses their enforcer and tone setter too early for the second season in a row.
Dan Quinn struggled to replace Neal in 2018. Despite competent safeties on the market at the time, including Eric Reid, the Falcons tried to turn Jordan Richards into a starter. With the eventual injury to Ricardo Allen, the Falcons did get to see a lot more of Damontae Kazee.
Falcons analyst Dave Archer does not sound like he expects the Falcons to look far for a replacement.
Put Kazee on the field. He’ll be on the field now more as the extra safety which is not a bad thing as Kazee is a ball-hawk type of guy.
Archer additionally expects the team to put rookie Kendall Sheffield in at nickel. Expect some growing pains but there is a lot of talent in that lineup.
What’s good? Kazee has been mediocre at nickel. He’s a dynamic talent when facing the offense and allowed to make plays at safety. Things were better when he was leading the league in interceptions and not blowing coverage. He would probably move to free safety, pushing Ricardo Allen to strong safety, probably with Kemal Ishmael coming in on obvious running downs. Sheffield has some potential and could be an improvement.
Whats bad? No one can really replace Neal. He is a special talent in every single aspect. This will be a clear downgrade.