Walker: Will “D-Block” Have The D-Locked?
After addressing the people in charge of “carrying the mail” so to speak, I will address the Linebacking Corp for the Atlanta Falcons. This group, affectionately known as “D-block” is in charge of stopping the run and pass and with the versatile fronts shown by this Mike Nolan defense, it is crucial that they be able to do both. They had a less than stellar showing in the NFC Championship Game versus the San Francisco 49ers, with the rushing attack becoming too much for the Falcons front seven, along with Tight End Vernon Davis carving up huge chunks of yards in the passing game. The Linebacking Corp for the Falcons must step up this year against some “stiff” competition that will bring several different offensive elements to the field. Sean Weatherspoon, Falcons Linebacker and playcaller believes the linebackers have what it takes to perform well and told me so in the following audio.
Sean Weatherspoon, is going into his 4th season for the Atlanta Falcons. He is he veteran leader for the linebacking corp and embraces that position. I was at Falcons Mini-camp on Wednesday and witnessed a lot of what Weatherspoon was able to do. He has a great command of what his defensive coordinator wants. Mike Nolan and Weatherspoon stay in constant contact with each other and although the term “coach on the field” is cliché, it is definitely the case regarding their relationship. I was able to observe Weatherspoon coaching the other young linebackers as the 2nd and 3rd team personnel came on and off the field. While observing some individual drills for the linebackers, I was able to see that they were very aware of what Tight Ends and Running backs want to do to them in the passing game and the goal is to neutralize and stop the short passing game in the intermediate middle and flat areas. Joining Weatherspoon in this task will be Stephen Nicholas, the 6th year linebacker out of South Florida had 97 tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble, and one interception in 2012. Nicholas came on to assert himself as a force in the Nolan scheme. Akeem Dent, will also be expected to take a huge leap this season. Going into his 3rd season, the former University of Georgia Bulldog showed promise in his first significant opportunity to play. He is talented but will need to bring his play to another level if this team has high hopes this season. Overall, fans should have a wait and see approach with the linebacking corp for the Atlanta Falcons. I believe that this personnel is talented but do they have the skill set necessary to compete with the likes of the best of the NFC and beyond. That question will be answered soon.
Jamie Walker is a Producer and the Atlanta Falcons Blogger for Sports Radio 92.9 The Game. He can be followed on Twitter @coachjdub21 or through email at Jamie.Walker@cbsradio.com.