By Dave Choate
There have been a flurry of moves since the Falcons played the Eagles. The Falcons have placed Keanu Neal on IR, Deion Jones on short-term IR, and waived Deante Burton and Jeff Overbaugh. They’ve also added defensive end Steven Means to help out with the pass rush, linebacker Corey Nelson for depth, safety Keith Tandy for depth, and Brian Hill at running back with Devonta Freeman banged up.
Means is a potential contributor and Tandy is a solid enough third or fourth safety, but minus the intriguing addition of Means, this roster isn’t considerably better off than it was before the Eagles game. In fact, for reasons we’ll get into below, it’s worse.
The Falcons are down Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, Devonta Freeman, Ben Garland and Russell Gage for this game. The last two aren’t huge deals in the great scheme of things—Garland is a useful reserve and Gage a promising special teamer—but the first three could derail this entire game, and indeed the season if they’re not effectively replaced.
For Neal, the Falcons have a promising replacement in Damontae Kazee. Duke Riley has the potential to be a quality short-term replacement for Deion Jones, too, but we’ll need to see him in action before we declare that a success. And while Tevin Coleman isn’t Devonta Freeman, he’ll do a fine job of filling in for him over the short term. The big troubles are on defense, where it’s impossible not to be nervous about Riley and Kazee replacing two superstars....