He will reunite with ex-Falcons linebackers coach and current Jets defensive coordinator, Jeff Ulbrich.
Neasman, 29, has spent the past five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. He has played most of his snaps as a valuable special teamer than at safety, but Ulbrich did start him in two games last season. He finished 2020 recording 27 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.
The veteran safety can check “sack TB12” off his bucket list after his only sack in five years with the Falcons came last season on the NFL’s most beloved QB, Tom Brady.
Sharrod was another loss for Atlanta in free agency, whose secondary also took a hit losing Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, and Damontae Kazee. Through his five seasons in Atlanta, Sharrod accumulated 88 tackles and led the Falcons in special teams snaps the past two seasons with 325 in 2019 and 304 in 2020.
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PFF Gives Falcons’ Secondary Worst Ranking Heading into 2021
Last season, the Falcons’ defense allowed an NFL-worst of 4,697 passing yards, along with the third-most passing touchdowns (34).
Pro Football Focus doesn’t see them bouncing back from a disappointing 4-12 season and has the Falcons’ secondary in dead last ahead of the 2021 season. PFF cites the loss of key players as the main reasoning for another sinking year on defense.
“Four safeties played at least 200 snaps for the Falcons last season — Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, Sharrod Neasmann and Damontae Kazee.None of them are still with Atlanta. Veteran free agents Erik Harris and Duron Harmon, along with recent draft selections Jaylinn Hawkins and Richie Grant, will form a new-look safety unit in 2021.
The Falcons will need better play out of their young cornerbacks, as well. None of A.J. Terrell, Isaiah Oliver and Kendall Sheffield have recorded a coverage grade higher than 60.0 in the past two seasons.”
Hopefully, with the new addition of Dean Pees this year and his plans for blitzing, the Falcons can prove PFF and other doubters wrong.
Pees’s Plan Involves Everyone
Pees is well-known across the league for the pressure packages and schemes he creates and has had success doing so. The veteran defensive coordinator has previously spent time with the New England Patriots (2004 to 2009), Baltimore Ravens (2010 to 2017) and the Tennessee Titans (2018 to 2019).
Second-year cornerback AJ Terrell is a big fan of the Falcons’ new play-caller and will be one of Pees’s biggest assets, despite having just one year of experience on his NFL resume.
“I feel like this defense gives us a variety of things we can do,” Terrell said via AtlantaFalcons.com. “Just very multiple, everyone is hands on and active in the defense.”
Last season, Terrell started 14 games where he tallied 74 tackles, seven pass deflections, three forced fumbles and one interception.
He will a lot more on his plate this year as he and Isaiah Oliver are the only two starters returning to the Falcons’ secondary, but the Clemson product seems to be up for the loaded task.
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