With only two games played in the regular season, the Atlanta Falcons (1-1) defense took a severe blow when they announced that linebacker Sean Weatherspoon was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, and their rising star would miss their game against the Miami Dolphins (2-0).
As the Falcons captured their first win of the season by defeating the St. Louis Rams 31-24 in Week 2, the Falcons didn’t anticipate that it would come at a high price. Weatherspoon suffered a foot injury against the Rams, and won’t be eligible to return until Week 11 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Weatherspoon, 25, was supposed to have a breakout year for the Falcons after playing up to his potential last season where he was having a Pro Bowl year until injuries slowed him down. The fourth-year linebacker registered for 95 tackles, which was second on the team, along with three sacks and an interception.
In two games in 2013, Weatherspoon has only 10 tackles so far, but has made his presence felt on the field, particularly in the run defense for the Falcons.
Although it is too early to judge the Falcons’ defense overall, while their pass defense has been one of the worst in the league being ranked 29th and giving up 346.5 yards per game, they are ranked ninth in their run defense allowing only 73.5 yards per game.
Despite the defensive line for the Falcons playing well against the run, they will experience a much more difficult time in an area where they continued to improve year after year. With Weatherspoon becoming a cheerleader on the sidelines instead of using his athleticism and skill chasing down opposing players, the intensity and pressure on defense just went up to a whole new level.
With arguably their best linebacker out for the next nine weeks, what could have been a much-improved defense to go along with their high-powered offense will take a rain check yet again. Instead of having Weatherspoon command their linebacking corps, that responsibility will now turn into a committee, as his fellow teammates try to replace him on a defense that has been inconsistent in the past.
Weatherspoon took his thoughts to the social media platform Twitter, and expressed his optimism and positive attitude while dealing with the frustration of not being able to stay healthy in his young NFL career.
“I thank The Lord for life’s challenges. It is all a part of his plan, He’ll never put more on me than I can bear. I know that I’m not alone.”
While Weatherspoon focuses on getting healthy, the Falcons’ defense that has already been inconsistent and prone in giving up big plays will now take on a bigger task, as they try to maintain their foothold on the defensive side in the time being.