FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes some high praise for the Falcons' defense as well as Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor's apparent retirement.
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NFL Network: Which defense would you want with the game on the line?
It's no secret to Falcons fans that the defense was rolling heading into the playoffs last season. Needing a win in the season finale, the Falcons' defense held the Panthers to just 10 points while allowing under 250 total yards of offense and forcing three turnovers. In the postseason, they shut down the league's highest-scoring offense and gave up only 13 points against the Rams. Even in their loss to the Eagles, the Falcons' defense played well, allowing 15 points and forcing two turnovers.
The defenses ascension has been apparent to those who follow the team, but it's also becoming clear to some national media members as well. Recently on "Good Morning Football," analyst Kyle Brandt named the Falcons as the defense he would want on the field with the game on the line.
"You round up all of those stats about rankings in the league and where they rank, I don't really care about those because they incorporate the first three months, four months of the season," Brandt said. "The last month of the season, there was not a better defense than the Atlanta Falcons.
"At the end of the season, Dan Quinn had fully made them into the new Seattle Seahawks defense. Defensive coach, good players, I think it's Atlanta. I don't care if it's sexy or not, I think it's the right pick."
The Falcons' defense finished last season ranked ninth in total defense, allowing 318.4 yards per game, and eighth in scoring defense, allowing 19.7 points per game. Over their final eight games, including the playoffs, the Falcons allowed just 16.6 points per game despite playing five teams that finished in the top 12 in scoring offense, including three that finished in the top 5.
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NFL.com: Kam Chancellor believes he's played his last game
It appears as those Seahawks Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor is finished playing in the NFL. Per a report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Chancellor does not believe he will be cleared to play football again after recent scans showed no progress in his recovery from injury. Chancellor further explained that belief in a Twitter post.
Chancellor was selected in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft and he became the enforcer-type for Seattle's "Legion of Boom." During his eight seasons in the NFL, Chancellor was selected to four Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams. He recorded 641 tackles, 50 pass defenses, 12 interceptions, nine forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries during his NFL career.