Secondary may be Falcons’ biggest weakness in 2021

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Deen Worley
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The 2021 Atlanta Falcons roster has several concerning holes, but the defensive secondary is the most potentially problematic of them all. With free agency and the draft right around the corner, the team must find a way to address these issues.

NBC Sports analyst and former NFC South divisional rival, Chris Simms, discussed the what the Falcons’ defense may look like under new defensive coordinator Dean Pees in 2021.

“[Falcons] secondary, not very good other than A.J. Terrell,” said Simms. “You got a guy in Keanu Neal, who’s a free agent, been hurt, been awesome when he’s healthy but he’s hurt a lot.”

Neal, who will become a free agent on March 17, has only played a full 16-game season once in his five-year NFL career. He played a combined total of four games between the 2018 and 2019 NFL seasons. Not only will Neal become a free agent, but versatile safety Damontae Kazee will also be hitting the market after suffering a season-ending injury against Green Bay in Week 4.

The recent release of free safety Ricardo Allen has put the Falcons in a scenario where they have no starting safeties returning in 2021. Coupled with the poor play on the perimeter, Atlanta had the league’s worst passing defense in 2020 — allowing nearly 300 yards per game.

Simms went on to discuss Pees’ style and how different things will look on the defensive side of the ball.

“They got a lot of work to do in the secondary and now it’s Dean Pees. They’ve gone from this 4-3 defense of Seattle scheme, speed, shoot the gap,” stated Simms. “Dean Pees is going to coach a different style. So I would think there’s got to be a little bit more of an adjustment to get bigger. You’re gonna have defensive linemen that can 2-gap and do things like that.”

“They got two good linebackers in Deion Jones and [Foye] Oluokun, who are unbelievable football players. But I do think there is some work on that defensive side of the ball, for sure,” Simms concluded.

Oluokun finished the 2020 season with a career-best 117 tackles, including four tackles for a loss.

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