FalconsBlog -- An Experiment in Failure: The Falcons Secondary
Quote:I use this space, not particularly to put any player on blast, but to put forth my following beliefs. The Falcons secondary has been, and continues to be, an unmitigated disaster worse than most Arnold Schwarzenegger movies (see: End of Days, Junior, Last Action Hero, and if we continue at this rate... Kindergarden Cop). What is the problem here?
1. Brent Grimes is the only player who has earned his spot. If we are giving players money based on what they have done or what they will do, we need to break the bank for Brent Grimes. Is he the best corner in the league? No, but I could say he is a top five corner with a straight face. Grimes has a fantastic nose for the ball, and if he isn't making an acrobatic interception, he is usually tipping the ball.
His coverage has improved to the point I have seen quarterbacks start to throw away from Grimes this preseason and as well as last Sunday. Our problem is when quarterbacks are not throwing in his direction.
2. Dunta Robinson signed a 6 year, $57 million contract last offseason, which actually allows the Falcons to pull chute on him after 3-4 years without too much trouble. Cornerback has long been a huge problem in Atlanta, and there was hope Robinson would bring the coverage skills we hoped for when we drafted DeAngelo Hall.
I cut Robinson some slack last year. He was far from bad. Showing pretty decent coverage skills, we expected a slow start after Robinson dealt with a camp injury and was still coming back from a rough knee injury when he was a Texan. Robinson said he felt much more comfortable in the defense this year, then looked even worse. It could be because of his hamstring injury, but that does not make you over-pursue. I am starting to get nightmares about our $57 million man in a one on one situation with a running back in open field. Nevertheless, Dunta made Roy Williams look like a Pro Bowler.
3. Thomas DeCoud. I saw DeCoud look incompetent in every aspect of the game he played on Sunday. I had high hopes. He looked very good in 2009, only to regress last year... and somehow look worse on Sunday.
DeCoud was bad. Terrible in coverage. Consistently away from the play, except for the two times where the ball hit him in the hands. Two times! Atlanta is seriously missing playmakers in the secondary, and DeCoud cannot take advantage of a situation that literally comes right at him. This is also a fantastic time to point out he was disappointing in run support, and failed to block a gunner on one of the few times Eric Weems decided not to fair catch the ball.
For a player in a contract year, DeCoud is not making a push to show he is anything more than a spot starter. DeCoud should be on a short leash with veteran James Sanders waiting in the wings.
4. Chris Owens. How this man has won the starting nickel spot, or even stays employed in the NFL is beyond me. Teams frequently target our nickel spot because of Chris Owens. Last year he played against all of two teams: the Bengals and the Packers.
First, some commentary from the guys at Pro Football Focus in the Bengals game:
At one point the commentators said that CB Chris Owens (-5.6) had a hell of a game. Hell in a game perhaps. Owens was clearly not up to scratch in this one, with the stats really painting a picture as the Bengals constantly threw comeback routes to expose his fear of getting beat deep. He ended up being thrown at an incredible 20 times, with 17 of those completed for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
Then came the Packers game. Here is a quick blurb about our former 3rd round pick from
Pro Football Focus:
Because of an injury to Brian Williams, Chris Owens was pushed into the slot cornerback role. The Packers took advantage of this by putting not only Donald Driver in the slot receiver position, but Greg Jennings more than usual, and at times both of them in the slot on the same side of the field. Although other defensive backs allowed more catches, he allowed the most yards and by far the most after the catch.
I would like to say that Owens has improved, but I cannot. He looks terrible.
One of the worst parts is that last season Brian VanGorder eventually began calling blitzes from the nickel spot when we had Brian Williams. It did not add up to sacks, but it did pressure the quarterback. BVG called this on Sunday as well, only to find out Chris Owens cannot blitz either. Owens has made some nice plays in run support, but that is usually between multiple plays of being completely lost in coverage.
Simply put, he needs to be replaced with either Dominique Franks or Kelvin Hayden immediately. Any half competent quarterback is going to look fantastic with him in coverage (see: Carson Palmer, Jay Cutler) and any competent quarterback is going to embarrass us (see: Aaron Rodgers). If the coaching staff has any intention of beating the Eagles next week, we will not see #21 on the field and serious thought will be given to replace Thomas DeCoud.