Defenses in the NFL today seem to thrive on one aspect of the game: confusion. With defenses becoming more and more complex, coordinators are employing several defensive packages and varying blitz calls designed to confuse the opposing quarterback. However, with the lockout cutting into practice time, such teams will be at a disadvantage.
The Falcons could be one of those teams. Although this may come as a surprise to some, Brian Van Gorder actually runs one of the more intricate defenses in the NFL. Atlanta is ranked right up near the top in terms of complexity, alongside teams well-known for using confusing blitz packages like the Ravens and Jets.
While the Falcons use fairly conservative defensive packages most of the time, they actually zone blitzed on pass plays 12.5% of the time in 2010. In addition, the Falcons would often times switch to a three-man front in obvious passing situations, doing so 14% of the time in 2010.
We know that Mike Smith is also a huge proponent of employing a rotating defensive front, subbing linemen in and out of the formation multiple times per game. However, with less time preparing in camp, complex defenses like the Falcons may have to scale down their playbooks.
The one bit of silver lining in this is that the Saints also run a very complicated defense. Known for calling sellout blitzes in which six or more defenders are rushing the QB at once, Gregg Williams will have to work in the same time constraints as the Falcons once the lockout is (hopefully) lifted.
For more on the Falcons, check out The Falcoholic.