Much of the blame for the tragic NFC championship loss will fall on the offense but those who watched the game know the Atlanta Falcons defense fell apart the most. Could Brian Urlacher and Sam Montgomery solve some problems?
Matt Ryan can't rescue another letdown by Mike Nolan defense
Falcons fans braced themselves after their team took a big lead early in the championship game against San Francisco. Turns out it was with good reason. Once again the defense coached by prominent coordinator Mike Nolan gave up a big lead set up by quarterback Matt Ryan. If ever there was a game that described the plight of Atlanta it was this one. When the offense in on, the defense is off. When the defense is one the offense is off. Since 2008 both units have failed to play their best football at the same time in the most important games. To a large extent the problems on offense were fixed but the issues on defense reared their head at the worst time. For all the scheming Nolan did, his group sacked quarterback Colin Kaepernick once despite a raucous crowd and also let a tight end rip them apart for the second-straight week. Those problems can kill a team, as it did with Atlanta. It's something they must fix fast if they want another shot at the Super Bowl.
Urlacher and Montgomery to become big players in NFL offseason
Luckily for the Falcons the NFL offseason could offer a rare bounty of players to help them in that effort. The most obvious need is with the pass rush. Sadly the Falcons don't select in the draft until the 30th pick. That means their chances at an elite rusher are limited. However many analysts believe as many as seven defensive ends have enough talent to go in the first round. Among those that could end up where the Falcons sit is LSU junior Sam Montgomery. Though not considered the best rusher on his team he still has a rare blend of speed and strength that let him lead the Tigers in sacks. Adding him takes immediate pressure off 34-year old John Abraham who shouldered most of the pass rush duties the past few seasons. The other somewhat risky player Atlanta could look at is Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher. Despite a bad knee injury that robbed him of much of his speed, there are few players in the NFL better at getting his teammates in spots to make plays. Too often during the playoffs did Falcons defenders look confused and unsure where to lineup. Urlacher would solve this problem and also give them some extra help in coverage against tight ends.
The Atlanta Falcons don't have much choice. They must take a page from the Baltimore Ravens and keep building their roster until it is good enough to win a championship. Sam Montgomery and Brian Urlacher are two pieces that could help immediately.
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