Commentary

Plugging the holes: NFC South

Biggest remaining questions for the Falcons, Saints, Panthers and Bucs

Originally Published: August 10, 2011
By Robert Weintraub | Football Outsiders
Dunta RobinsonTodd Kirkland/Icon SMIDunta Robinson needs to improve if the Falcons are going to make a playoff run.

Note: This is the seventh part of an eight-part series going division by division through the NFL.

One effect of the lockout is that teams don't have as good a feel for their roster as they would in normal years. No one has conducted OTAs; rookies haven't had a chance to study the playbooks or meet with position coaches; and, because free agency was pushed back until after the lockout, many teams don't know what their rosters will look like, even as they begin training camp. So without further ado, let's look at the biggest remaining question for all four teams in the NFC South.


Atlanta Falcons: Can Dunta Robinson improve?

Atlanta filled its gaping hole at defensive end with free agent Ray Edwards. If he provides the pass rush expected of him (16.5 sacks in the past two seasons combined), the Falcons' pass defense will improve noticeably. Just steady pressure and the ability to take blockers off John Abraham will be a welcome development from the signing.

But Edwards isn't exactly DeMarcus Ware, and even if he were, the secondary play in Atlanta needs to improve if the Falcons want to get past teams with top quarterbacks at the helm (see: Packers 48, Falcons 21 this past January). Brent Grimes, who turned in a stellar 2010, signed his free-agent tender and is back in the fold, so the onus falls to the marquee free-agent signing of the previous offseason, Robinson, to lift his play somewhere near Grimes' level.


To read the rest of Football Outsiders' analysis of the Atlanta Falcons, plus the biggest remaining questions for other teams in the NFC South, you must be an ESPN Insider.