What makes food taste good?
Is it the sauce you put on it? Is it how long you cook it, or could it be the store you get it from?
The truth is, the biggest key to good food is simple: the seasoning.
With the Falcons, we know the team’s success starts in the trenches. After that, it’s how the offense performs, which is no surprise, as they’ve been carrying the team for years.
This season, the secondary needs to be the catalyst to the Falcons' success, or in other words, the “seasoning."
Almost every skill position has a leader in its group.
Matt Ryan at quarterback; Julio Jones at wide receiver; Alex Mack on the offensive line; Grady Jarrett on the defensive line; and Deion Jones in the linebacking corps.
Who is that guy for the secondary?
Atlanta has one of the youngest secondaries in the league, which could be problematic considering they're in a division with some of the best receivers and quarterbacks in football.
The oldest projected starter from the cornerback group, Isaiah Oliver, is 23. Safeties Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal are considered leaders, but they’ve dealt with injuries over the past few years.
If the Falcons want to be serious contenders this year, they're going to need improvement in the secondary.
Though there isn’t much clarity, there are some good things to take from the group's performance in training camp.
Youth In The Secondary
So far in training camp, rookie first-rounder A.J. Terrell has proved his doubters wrong and is impressing coaches and players on the field.
Going up against Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley every day should help ease his transition to the NFL, which is a notoriously faster game than college football.
OIiver has made strides in training camp after a sub-par 2019 season, and free-agent acquisition Darqueze Dennard seems like he’ll be a bright spot for the defense in the slot.
The safety group is nothing like the cornerbacks when comparing experience, and they could provide veteran leadership the young players need.
Safety In The Secondary
Allen is one of the smartest players on the Falcons, and the way he quarterbacks the defense will be crucial when this unit is competing against some of the league's best offenses this season.
Neal has fought back from injury the past two years, but he’s made changes to his body this offseason to hopefully stay healthy throughout the season. Before the injuries, Neal was the heart of the Falcons defense.
Damontae Kazee’s high energy and physical play has helped the secondary when Neal and Allen have been absent with injuries over the past couple seasons. According to head coach Dan Quinn, Kazee is so important to the team that there will be three-safety sets implemented in the defense this season.
This group has the potential to be a solid defensive unit in 2020. They may have their ups and downs, but there's enough play-making talent for the defense to be successful.
Whatever kind of seasoning the Falcons secondary brings to the team -- whether it’s salt, pepper, lemon pepper or Cajun -- it needs to be spicy and fierce for Atlanta to fulfill its Super Bowl potential.