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Asante Samuel Making Waves at OTAs - Do the Atlanta Falcons Now Have the Best Secondary in the NFL?

By Beardandstache @BeardAndStache

Asante Samuel Making Waves at OTAs - Do the Atlanta Falcons Now Have the Best Secondary in the NFL?

Photo: AP Images - David Goldman

- Troy Ballard


Asante Samuel has always brought a certain amount of hype and noise to wherever he goes -- the Patriots, Eagles, Little Wayne's B-Day party -- and the trend has continued as Pick-Six has managed to raise some eyebrows with the Atlanta Falcons during the team's voluntary training camp.
During the practice, Samuel went as far as to claim that he was bored and that he 'wanted some action.' After calling for the ball to be passed his way, he snagged two interceptions -- one against Matty-Ice.
Despite being filled to the brim with enough swagger to sink a ship, Samuel still managed to impress all of his teammates. Ryan, who received the royal treatment from Pick-Six after throwing a careless pass in his direction, had the highest amount of praise for the new arrival.
With what appears to be a smooth transition from Philadelphia to Atlanta for Samuel, the question has been raised -- do the Falcons now have the best secondary in the NFL?
Most would immediately snap to the jump conclusion, that yes, Atlanta most certainly does have the most talented secondary in the league. The combination of Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson was already dynamite, now with Samuel in the fold, the group can only get better. Not to mention that Thomas DeCoud is incredibly under-rated, and William Moore played admirably last season all things considered at the safety positions.
It makes sense -- the Falcons, on paper, have a nasty secondary.
But here's the reality -- Samuel isn't going to be a god-send that will suddenly turn Atlanta into a no-fly zone overnight.
As good as things can appear, it doesn't always translate to immediate success. This will likely very much be the case with the Falcons' secondary going into next season, regardless of how much talent has amassed in Atlanta (see: Philadelphia Eagles 2011 season).
Last year, with Grimes and Robinson manning the outside and DeCoud in the backfield, Atlanta still managed to rank 20th in the entire NFL in surrendered passing yards per game, and finished with a middle of the road 25-19 touchdown interception ratio.
Samuel will certainly help improve both of those numbers, but don't expect a radical turnaround.
As much as I love Pick-Six, he has a way of infuriating a fan base and ripping apart a defense (again, see: Eagles). Samuel's play style involves baiting the quarterback into throwing the ball his direction while he is playing off the receiver -- and some of the time it ends up being, as his nickname suggests, a pick-six -- with the majority of the time the play ending in a huge gain for the offense.
Samuel runs a high-risk high-reward type of game, and if Atlanta is hoping that he can provide a shutdown style of play -- forget it. Grimes and Robinson both would be better bets on the outside, and if not for Samuel's frequent interceptions, he would be considered a total liability on the field for his risky play and lack of tackling ability.
Not to mention, with Robinson moving to the slot, there is going to be an adjustment period as the defense welcomes in a new starter. Inevitably, there will be mistakes, and that leads to blown coverages. Combine that change with a brand new defensive coordinator, and Atlanta is looking down the barrel of serious confusion.
The talent is there -- and the Falcons could surprise at the start of next season and totally shutdown opposing passing attacks with no issue. However, chances are that with the infusion of Samuel, Robinson adjusting to the slot and a new defensive coordinator, Atlanta is going to struggle in the secondary.
It won't be permanent, and it could even be resolved before this season is over, but the Falcons are going to have to be patient. Give it time, and at some point in the near future, Atlanta could boast the best secondary -- but don't count on it at the start of next season.


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