The FalconsLife message board on AtlantaFalcons.com is where die-hard Falcons fans go to talk, share ideas and discuss every imaginable topic concerning the Falcons.
During the offseason we'll take a look at a hot topic on the Talk About the Falcons department of FalconsLife and examine what's on the minds of Falcons fans.
One of the stories that has emerged as the offseason has progressed for the Falcons is the pending third season for outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. With the exit of Curtis Lofton, Weatherspoon will be pressed for a more dominant leadership role. When the Falcons returned to Flowery Branch to begin their workouts a few weeks ago, Weatherspoon shared that he will be responsible for receiving the defensive calls from the sidelines and ensuring everyone is lined up and on the same page.
On a recent appearance with 790 The Zone's *Archer and Bell, *Weatherspoon also said he'd be doing a little more pass rushing in 2012 after a 2011 season that saw him demonstrate some ability in that area with four sacks.
This week on FalconsLife, fans have been discussing Weatherspoon, but one topic reminds everyone not to forget about another starting linebacker. Started by VaderMan, the topic poses the debate: Pass Rush, Spoon vs. Nicholas.
VaderMan acknowledges the talent of Weatherspoon, but thinks Stephen Nicholas has underrated pass rush skills and he put a prediction on the table as well.
"I think it is very close, and again Spoon is the superior of the two however, if given the same opportunities to blitz... I am going to bet that Nich comes up with more sacks," VaderMan wrote.
Another poster, Smiler11, shared Nicholas' impressive stats from the last two years of college: 31 tackles for loss and 15 sacks and also pointed out that in his first two seasons with the Falcons in 2007 and '08, he was used at times as a defensive end.
"They are both pretty good for 4-3 olb's," Smiler11 wrote. "Spoon is bigger, stronger and faster but I think Nicholas is the better pass rusher."
Nicholas didn't record any sacks last season after struggling with health issues all season. He started only eight games and appeared in only ten. His career high sacks came in 2009 when he recorded three.
ProFootballFocus.com thinks highly of Nicholas entering this season, despite his down year statistically due to injuries.
"Nicholas earned very respectable run defense and pass rush ratings ( 3.8 and 2.3, respectively)," they wrote on March 16 of this year. "As a result, he will likely see increased time due to a lack of depth."
Given that new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan will employ a more aggressive defensive scheme in 2012 and will rely on a variety of pass rushers from all over the field, Nicholas could be an overlooked weapon right now.
With an offseason to return to health and a scheme that is placing emphasis on the two outside linebackers, Nicholas is in a prime position to be a vital pass rusher, something his skill set says he can excel at.
Who will win the battle of numbers between Weatherspoon and Nicholas remains to be seen, but if they both play as capable in the coming season, it could mean great things for Atlanta's new-look defense.