While the Falcons are still searching to find a solid replacement for Sean Weatherspoon at the linebacker position there is a sense of urgency in terms of other linebackers stepping up and having a strong performance during the offseason camps.
One of those linebackers is Joplo Bartu, who in his second year, is getting comfortably adjusted to the Falcons’ new 3-4 defense. Bartu was signed last season as an undrafted free agent and played in all 16 games as a rookie recording 85 total tackles and 3 ½ sacks.
Bartu, along with fellow Falcons’ linebacker Paul Worrilow, will be expected to emerge as the leaders of this young Falcons’ defense in the absence of Weatherspoon.
Furthermore, the announcement that Jonathan Vilma was not signed by Atlanta along with other veteran linebackers who worked out with the Falcons such as Nick Barnett and Tim Dobbins is symbolic of the vision Thomas Dimitroff has for this defense moving forward. That vision is not relying heavily on savvy veteran leadership on the defense.
Bartu has an opportunity to be the driving force on the Falcons’ defense. While it is hard to replace a defensive player of Weatherspoon’s caliber, Bartu could definitely be the glue that keeps that Falcons’ defense cohesive and making major strides in improving from last season’s defensive struggles.
However, only time will tell. Bartu needs to continue proving his value on the Falcons’ defense in preseason minicamps and the preseason as well. If he accomplishes this then the Falcons will take the necessary steps in neutralizing the dominant offenses of their divisional foes New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers.