Yes, the nickname is gently used, but Desmond Trufant is the NFL’s new shutdown corner (plus Darrelle Revis clearly isn’t using it anymore). Will this be the year Trufant fully takes his play to the elite level? Would things have played out differently for the Falcons if Trufant was on the field for Super Bowl LI?
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Trufant is mentioned often among the league’s top corners with Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson, and Josh Norman. The unspoken respect to not throw at Trufant runs league wide. What’s the one thing that most would argue holding back Trufant from being the best? Interceptions. It’s a numbers game, and top corners are often judged by takeaways as well as passes defensed. A contributing factor of course which plays a key role in assisting cornerbacks in coverage is pressure on the quarterback.
Atlanta’s New And Improved Front Seven
The potential starting front seven for the Falcons will be: Vic Beasley, Dontari Poe, Grady Jarrett, Takk McKinley, Duke Riley, Deion Jones, and De’Vondre Campbell. Whether that’s the exact starting front seven remains to be seen, but any cornerback would love to have that athleticism and speed up front chasing down QB’s. The new and improved defensive line that head coach Dan Quinn will have at his disposal will strike fear into opposing offensive lines.
The Falcons already possess the NFL sack leader (Beasley) who will now have help both inside (Poe) and out (McKinley). Those who have focused simply on the defensive weaknesses from last year, haven’t necessarily taken into account what the losses of Trufant, Adrian Clayborn, and Derrick Shelby at season’s end in 2016 meant for the defensive game plan. The return of these injured players along with the new additions to the d-line have Quinn and new defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel eager to unleash this young, formidable defense.
Quinn’s fingerprints are all over this rebuilt defense. Comparing the current defensive roster to the one when Quinn first arrived is eye popping. It’s been quite the rebuild in such a short amount of time.
Quinn also took over the defensive calls the second half of 2016 and will remain heavily involved according to early reports. He has not only reshaped the roster, but has now fully implemented “Quinn guys” into the coaching staff. Specifically on the defensive side of the ball. Manuel along with defensive line coach Bryant Young will allow fans to see a young coaching staff develop along with the young defense on the field.
Glass half full
One last positive to take away from Trufant missing time in 2016 was the growth it allowed to both Jalen Collins and Robert Alford. Collins was thrust into a bigger role maybe sooner than expected as he became the number two corner. Nothing can help speed up the learning curve more than game day snaps.
Alford took over as the top cover man in the Falcons secondary, and, without his contributions on defense, the Falcons would not have enjoyed postseason success. Alford very well may have been remembered forever in Falcons lore for his pick six on Tom Brady in Super Bowl LI, though it will unfortunately remain in the shadows of a painful loss. The valuable experience gained by both Collins and Alford will only help in 2017.
I’m expecting a little bit of friendly competition amongst the Falcons defensive backs in 2017. Trufant’s absence from the 2016 Super Bowl run will only enhance his hunger to get in on the fun. Maybe he’ll have a little pick six friendly wager with Robert Alford on who can get more?
Be wary opposing QB’s! The new look brotherhood defense is about to unleash itself with their main man back shutting down opposing wideouts.