Secondary Coach Expects Physical Play Among DBs

Secondary Coach Expects Physical Play Among DBs

Jay Adams

Published July 17, 2012 at 10:15 AM

With Asante Samuel added to a secondary that includes Dunta Robinson and William Moore, secondary coach Tim Lewis sees physicality being one of the big hallmarks of his unit, thanks in large part, he says during today’s Five Questions, to the organization’s commitment to the mentality of finding “tough, physical, smart, athletic” players.

Jay Adams: What does the experience of Asante Samuel add to the defensive backfield?

Tim Lewis: Just what you said: the experience, and all that. He’s bringing 45 interceptions, 140-plus pass breakups, nine years of experience, four Pro Bowls — his resume speaks for itself. He’s a very talented player. I’ve watched him play over the course of his career and admired what he’s done from afar. Of course, I’ve never coached him before, but I’ve seen what he’s done in either games that we’ve played against him or in crossover breakdown tape that I’ve watched. He’s a good football player.

JA: You get a guy like Samuel, who’s known for his physical play, and you add him to a secondary with Dunta Robinson and William Moore, who aren’t shy in that department either. Do you see physicality being the hallmark of this secondary in 2012?

TL: Yes, I would think so. I would think any secondary that I’ve been associated with, or any team that I’ve been associated with, I think physicality is synonymous with the name on the back of the jersey and the name of the organization. This club is no different. The Atlanta Falcons have a physical defense, primarily because that’s our owner (and chairman) Arthur Blank’s mentality, that’s our general manager (Thomas Dimitroff’s) mentality and our head coach (Mike Smith’s) mentality, is tough, physical, smart, athletic football players win.

JA: After free agency and the franchise tag was settled, you ended up with a lot of continuity in the secondary. How much does that help?

TL: Tremendously. Any time you can line up a group of guys week in and week out, they start to get a feel for one another, they start to get a feel for the system. Of course, the system has changed and we’ll start to do some things different with (defensive coordinator Mike) Nolan than we’ve done in the past. It’s really a neat thing because all of the older guys are being challenged to learn new things and to really re-invent themselves inside of the system, and I think the system will allow them to make plays and I think they’re all excited about it. I think they’re starting to see that a bit now. They’re all enthused and I think that enthusiasm is going to carry over to, hopefully, productivity during the season. It is refreshing to see them run around with a smile on their face, energized and challenged. I think the challenge is what they’re looking forward to — learning something new, fitting into it, watching it work for them. Any time that you’ve got a defense or a system that the players are comfortable with and having fun with, they have a tendency to go faster. That’s what we’re excited about.

JA: I know a big part of the offseason for you is evaluating the previous season. What were your big takeaways from 2011?

TL: Well, the big takeaway was that we were good, but not good enough. We played well at times. We were not overly consistent all the time, but by the same token, there was some light at the end of the tunnel. Moving forward, what you try to do is you try to evaluate where you’ve been, like we did, and at the same time, trying to prepare for the new year. I think all the steps that we’ve taken thus far, either in free agency or the draft, have put us on track to get better than we were before. That’s what our overall goal is: to get better and move forward, and never letting the last play, so-to-speak, hold us back from the next play. Just like in golf, the next shot is the most important shot, and that’s what we’ve done. So this coming year is even more important than the last.

JA: Obviously, the attention is going to be on Brent Grimes, Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson, but you’ve got good, young talent in Dominique Franks and Chris Owens. What’s your assessment of where they are in their respective careers?

TL: They’ve moved forward. Everybody has. I think they’ve all gotten better, and I think the addition of Asante will continue to help the level of all of boats, so-to-speak, rise. The bottom line is, we’ve added another talented player and all of them will look to see what he’s done or what he’s doing and hopefully, they can assimilate some of the techniques that he brings to the table and some of the moves and so forth that he brings into their games. He’ll help everyone. He’ll help me as a coach, and I’ll learn just as much from him as he’ll learn from me, and I think that’s a good thing. I’m excited about watching the young guys watch his work ethic, watch his technique, and they can all pick something up from him, but I do like the progress of where those two young guys (Franks and Owens) are and I’m excited about watching them continue to grow.

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