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Could Curtis Lofton Change The Falcons Defense For The Better?

Rewind only a month, back to when the lockout was still in effect, and you'll remember LB Curtis Lofton really embracing his leadership role by handling the defensive playcalling during player-led practices. What's interesting, however, is that Mike Smith and the Falcons coaching staff have taken an interest in Lofton's "hyper-aggressive play-calling." In the words of Smith:

"We had a little talk in the staff meeting [after the lockout] to see what he was calling back there at Buford High. We tried to kind of get an idea of where his head was"

Lofton went on to note that his play depends heavily on how well his front four play. With the addition of Ray Edwards and a hopefully healthy Peria Jerry, he says he'll be able "to do some things I haven't been able to do in the past."

You'll recall that a big criticism of the Falcons defense last season was it's inability to hold a big lead. The offense would pull the team ahead by a few scores, only to watch the defense switch to its infamous ultra-conservative prevent defense.

The defense would hold on in crunch time, but often times the Falcons would come dangerously close to a loss. An increase in aggressiveness, especially on third down, could be an improvement in the team's defensive philosophy.

As far as Brian VanGorder is concerned, he seems to think that playcalling aggressiveness will be determined by the play of the secondary, and not the D-line. With two young corners in Owens and Franks battling it out for the nickel spot, a big question will be if the Falcons can get consistent play from either in 2011.

Still, I think it's a great idea to consider a few of Lofton's ideas, and try to incorporate them into the playbook. A Curtis Lofton blitz up the middle with Edwards and Abraham rushing on the outside sounds like a terrifying prospect.

For more on the Falcons, check out The Falcoholic.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.