One of the biggest question marks about the 2012 National Football League season for the Atlanta Falcons was their defense. Everyone around the league knew about how stacked Atlanta was coming into the season with Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez, but, after their one-and-done in the playoffs for the third straight time with Head Coach Mike Smith and Ryan, the team needed all their defensive stars to produce this season. Things just got a little more difficult for new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and the Falcons as starting cornerback Brent Grimes is out for the season with an Achilles injury.
Grimes left the Falcons 40-24 victory against the Chiefs on opening day with what was originally called a calf injury, but further testing showed a major injury to his Achilles. After being given the franchise tag in the offseason, the 29-year-old was hoping to prove himself on the field as he was looking to get big money from the Falcons or any other takers this coming offseason. Instead, the Falcons will have to rely on Asante Samuel to fill the gaping hole left by the absence of Grimes and he will need to prove he is still worth big money once healthy.
Nothing against Samuel, but at this stage of his career, he isn't an every down type of cornerback, which will only lead to more issues in the future. The one thing that could save the Falcons throughout the rest of the season is their offense. On opening day, they scored 40 points on the Chiefs and didn't even have a rushing attack as Michael Turner was almost non-existent. I don't know of many defenses around the league that will be able to contain all five weapons the Falcons will have on the field each snap, so we may see plenty of 42-38 type scores.
Nolan has worked his defensive magic in the past, so Falcons' fans need to hope he can do it again. If he can't, it will be a long season in the dirty south.
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Hobson Lopes is a fan of the Atlanta Falcons, thanks to Deion Sanders and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes.