At 32-years-old, cornerback Asante Samuel‘s leadership in 2013 will be the key to an athletic secondary that is on the rise to become a lethal force for the Atlanta Falcons in 2013.
Before cornerback Brent Grimes went down with a season-ending injury, the Falcons had finally boasted a defensive back unit that would be taken seriously by opposing teams who had assumed that it would be a breeze to slice through a secondary that doesn’t necessarily have the reputation of being able to “cover”.
In 2013, the Falcons’ secondary should be one of the best in the league in terms of athleticism and playmaking abilities. After drafting the talented and physical cornerback Desmond Trufant, the Falcons starting unit on the backend would be Trufant, Samuel, William Moore and Thomas DeCoud.
Although the Falcons were ranked 23rd in passing defense last season, the stats are misleading because of the fact that the defensive front for the Falcons were unable to apply any pressure, thus adding more pressure to the secondary in terms of covering wide receivers for a longer period of time.
Even though the Falcons gave up 242.4 passing yards per game, they did force 20 interceptions, which 17 of them were from the defensive back unit.
With this being said, the Falcons secondary will lean heavily on their top cornerback Samuel, who was second on the team with five interceptions, which also gave him 50 for his career.
Critics have said that Samuel has lost a step in his ability to cover and run with the top wide receivers in the NFL, there is no question about the impact he has had on the Falcons from day one. In 2012, Samuel had 34 tackles and led the team in passes defended with 19.
As Samuel and his fellow defensive backs prepare for the upcoming 2013 NFL season, the Falcons will once again expect Samuel to mentor and be a leader. If Trufant can be the player the Falcons expect him to be, the Falcons should posses one of the better passing defenses in the league.
No matter how much talent or athleticism a team has, if it doesn’t have a strong leader to guide them, it will be worthless in the end. Luckily for the Falcons, Samuel will be that leader and most importantly, he is still one of the best cover corners in the NFL today.
With Samuel leading the way for the secondary, the Falcons will be ready to go hunting with precision and capture their prey on sight.