Watch: Time to Re-evaluate the Atlanta Falcons Player Evaluations
Heading into the Week 9 bye, anyone who had watched any Atlanta Falcons football had this team figured out. The defense was a brick wall, around midway through the third quarter after assuring that the Falcons were at a two-score deficit. The offense chewed up yardage and spit out points, to almost bring the Falcons all the way back for a victory.
Then came Week 10 and the team has transformed from the easygoing Doctor Jeykyll to one of the nastier versions of Mr. Hyde. The Falcons have defeated their two fiercest division rivals by a combined score of 55 to 12. They’ve also been getting contributions from players that fans and media were already counting out for 2020. At this point, if the Falcons continue to perform at this level there may be more players worthy of returning for next season than we thought.
Let’s take Vic Beasley. After watching the first half of the season fans were saying, please anyone, take Vic Beasley. In the first half of the season he had 1.5 sacks. In his last two games he is credited with 2.5 sacks, six tackles with two for losses. He also has more tackles so far this season than he had in all of 2018.
Adrian Clayborn has three sacks in Weeks 10 and 11 along with five more pressures. He also has three tackles in those games, two for losses.
Both Beasley and Clayborn are free agents after the season. They’ve also both progressed from, don’t let the door hit you on the backside to, maybe they’re worth new contracts.
Others who’ve upped their game since Raheem Morris was moved from coaching wide receivers to defensive backs and began sharing defensive play-calling duties with linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich.
Linebacker Foyesade Oluokun had 11 tackles in the first half of the season. He has 15 in the last two games. Defensive end Takk McKinley has one sack and been a common sight in opponent’s backfields. Cornerback Isaiah Oliver had been giving up a 69.9 percent completion percentage and a 125.2 passer rating on balls thrown his way. Against the Panthers he was targeted nine times with only four completions allowed for a 59.5 defensive passer rating.
As we’ve found out in the past two weeks, there is talent built into this Falcons defense after all. There are now two questions about that talent. First, can they sustain the performance they’ve show the past two weeks over the final six games? Second, how many of the formerly roster challenged players will be worth bringing back for 2020?