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'We won't be lacking in coaches back there': Justin Hood excited to lead Falcons secondary behind a staff full of experience

Hood begins his first season as a secondary coach in the NFL under a Falcons staff carrying almost three decades of experience with the position.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Justin Hood jumped at the chance to become the Atlanta Falcons secondary coach.

It was a "no-brainer" to make the transition from his former stop at the Green Bay as the Packers defensive quality control coach for two reasons. First, to help mold the talent already on the Falcons roster from Jessie Bates III and A.J. Terrell. Second, to work alongside a Falcons staff full of defensive-back-minded coaches.

"(Raheem) Morris being a secondary guy, Jimmy (Lake) being a secondary guy, Jerry Gray being a secondary guy, and then myself — we won't be lacking in coaches back there," Hood said. "We'll be working as a team."

This upcoming season will mark Hood's first NFL coaching year as a position coach, but — among the names Hood mentioned —the Falcons carry a collective 28 years of experience coaching defensive backs. Hood will help lead a room that already has a strong foundation from the previous season.

Defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake explained as much in his introductory press conference. Once Lake dove into the film on Atlanta's secondary last season after he took the coordinator position, he immediately texted head coach Raheem Morris.

"I was like, 'These DBs are coached up.' You can tell," Lake said. "They know how to play with technique. They know how to leverage the ball. They know how to attack the ball."


Last season the Falcons ranked top-10 in total passing yards allowed, opposition completion percentage, total completions allowed and opposition yards gained per attempt. That jump in production coincided with Bates' first season in Atlanta who earned second-team All-Pro honors.

Just minutes before Hood addressed the media for the first time since taking the Falcons job, he talked to Bates on the phone. Hood is excited to help take the safety and the rest of the defensive backs to the next level.

While the Falcons' entire defense took a step last season, there were still areas for improvement. Atlanta ranked at the bottom of the league in interceptions and passes defended in 2023. Hood and the defensive-back experienced staff should be up for the challenge. After all, they're experienced in working with each other as well.

Hood was hired under Morris' staff Feb. 3 after three seasons at Green Bay. There Hood crossed over with Gray for a couple of years who held the defensive backs coaching position with the Packers from 2020-22.

"You talk about knowledge and wisdom," Hood said of Gray. "He sees things so much faster. Younger coaches, even younger players their processes, he's already two, three steps ahead."

Meanwhile, Morris and Lake go way back as a defensive back coach/assistant defensive back coach tandem at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers almost two decades ago. Hood and Lake haven't worked closely together, but they still share a commonality in cornerback Kevin King, who played for Lake at the University of Washington and then was drafted by Green Bay.

From working with King, Hood got an up-close look at how Lake developed secondary players. It's what got him excited to take the position in Atlanta, too.

"Things that (Lake) talks about with our defense playing free, playing fast, playing physical — it's what we embody," Hood said. "That's what I believe in.

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