Despite having to learn a new defensive scheme, safety Thomas DeCoud's decision to re-sign with the Falcons in the offseason was all about comfort.
After four years in Atlanta, all under former coordinator Brian VanGorder, DeCoud felt like Atlanta was the right place, even though Mike Nolan was bringing a new style to the Falcons.
"It was one of those things, being a safety, a lot of your career is being comfortable, knowing the system and knowing the guys around you," he said. "I knew the system and granted we have a pretty new system now, but I know the guys in front of us and the guys know me. It's about being comfortable where you are, especially at the safety position."
As it turns out, the system may be the perfect fit for DeCoud. After becoming a starter in 2009, he's remained consistent in his performance. He had some ups and downs during 2011 but believes Nolan's simplified defense will be good for him. He hesitates to call it "safety-oriented" but believes the opportunities to make more plays will be there.
"It's fun to get out here and Nolan has a new feel," he said. "The defense is a little bit simpler so we can play a lot faster. I think the safeties will be a lot more involved with the defense this year. I'm looking forward to it."
Back in May at the rookie minicamp, secondary coach Tim Lewis said one of the goals for DeCoud this season was to continue to help ensure everyone is lined up correctly, but to do it quicker. Doing it quicker, to Lewis, would allow DeCoud to see the ball quicker and make more plays on the ball.
With the addition of Asante Samuel at cornerback, DeCoud thinks a simplified approach will enable him and his secondary mates to get lined up quickly. He considers the opportunities endless.
"It's a little bit more simpler defense," he said. "We're able to make calls and get off the leash and make plays as a secondary."
One of the primary tenets of Nolan's defenses in the past has been the takeaway, sourced mostly off front end pressure and strong coverage. The idea is simple and DeCoud and his teammates see it that way. The simplicity of everything has produced a very simple goal this season.
"I think just getting the ball back a lot more for our offense and making a lot more plays on the ball," he said. "... A lot more plays are going to be in our lap."