The Atlanta Falcons have made a plethora of moves this off-season. The team has put together a plan to shake things up and add some new faces. We have seen them release veteran cornerback Desmond Trufant and add a top pass rusher in Dante Fowler Jr.
All of the moves the Falcons have made will make a difference in what we see from them on the field. But, none will be as impactful as one that will be standing on the sideline.
In January the Falcons announced the hiring of new secondary coach Joe Whitt. The former passing game coordinator for the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns is now paired up with Raheem Morris in Atlanta. Whitt was a staff member of the Atlanta Falcons back in 2007 before taking over as the defensive backs coach in Green Bay from 2008-2018.
Whitt’s time in Green Bay is what stands out the most. Whitt had the opportunity to coach players like Charles Woodson and Casey Heyward. He was able to take undrafted players like Sam Shields and Tramon Williams to the next level with their ball skills. Whitt also played a crucial role in the Packers Super Bowl run in 2010.
Why Joe Whitt Matters
Consistency is something that Whitt brings to the table. This is a guy who knows how to get the most out of his players. He is going to Atlanta to help the defense improve on takeaways. He has had one of the best track records when it comes to passing defense over the last 10 years.
Let’s take a closer look at what he did while in Green Bay. Using all of the data that we have collected from our friends over at Pro Football Reference to find out the impact Joe Whitt has had.
|Year||Passing Defense||Interceptions||INT League Rank|
Pro Football Reference | NFL Opposition & Defensive Statistics
Outside of the outlier in 2013, Joe Whitt has established one of the most well rounded passing defenses in the NFL. The data shows that even in down years defensively that his secondary was able to take the ball away. 2011, for example, Green Bay had the worst passing defense in the league and still had 31 interceptions.
We can see 2017 and 2018 were off years for the Packers as a whole, it’s tough to pinpoint what exactly the issue was. Whitt was not the only coach relieved after the 2018 season and I can assure you that it wasn’t because of his lack of success. He’s consistently had defenses playing at a high level. We can also see that eight of 11 seasons in Green Bay his defense was top 10 in interceptions.
The season that stands out to me the most is what he did in 2016. The Packers were in some serious trouble in the secondary with injuries piling up. That is something that never deterred Whitt’s defense from taking the ball away; although, they did rank 31st in passing defense.
We know exactly what we’re going to get out of Joe Whitt in Atlanta and it is everything they need. A Falcons team that has lacked in the turnover category on defense and has one of the youngest secondaries in the NFL.
Whitt’s strength is maximizing potential. Players like AJ Terrell, Isaiah Oliver, and Kendall Sheffield will benefit the most from that. It’s difficult to expect a dramatic turnaround for the Atlanta Falcons defense, but we can sure expect improvement.
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