HomeSportsFalcons’ DC Dean Pees Credited for Isaiah Oliver’s Transformation

Falcons’ DC Dean Pees Credited for Isaiah Oliver’s Transformation


Isaiah Oliver #26 of the Atlanta Falcons.

Week by week the Atlanta Falcons‘ defense has been getting better and better. Looking back to last Sunday, the Dirty Birds allowed just 14 points against the New York Giants as opposed to the combined 80 points they allowed through their first two games.

The peak performance came by surprise since the Falcons’ top cornerback and playmaker, A.J. Terrell, was ruled out against New York due to a concussion. However, nickel corner Isaiah Oliver stepped up in a huge way, which ultimately helped the Falcons’ defense hold their own.

The versatile defensive back played outside corner up until last season when interim head coach Raheem Morris tested the waters moving Oliver into the slot. Once defensive coordinator Dean Pees took over, he made the choice not to move Oliver.

Meanwhile, Atlanta opted to put backup corner T.J. Green in for Terrell and he struggled, but Oliver’s performance made up for it.

Oliver has not lived up to the hype since the Falcons took him in the second round of the 2018 draft, but head coach Arthur Smith credits Pees and defensive backs coach Jon Hoke for his overall improvement.

“It’s really Dean and Hoke,” Smith said during Monday’s press conference. “They kind of had a vision for him, where they thought he could play. Really it was the same role that Logan Ryan had for Dean and Vrabes [Mike Vrabel] in Tennessee, and Zay’s taken that on and he’s smart, he’s instinctual. If you’re going to play the nickel in this defense you’ve got to be a willing tackler too.”

After playing the best game of his career thus far Pro Football Focus gave Oliver a grade of 90.2. And while Falcons linebacker Mykal Walke received a higher grade of 92.7, he played just five snaps compared to Oliver’s 57 snaps.

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Falcons Earned Respect After First Win

The Falcons earned some––not much––respect following their 17-14 win over the Giants.

ESPN’s NFL Power Rankings bumped Atlanta from the 29th slot to the 25th.

Falcons beat writer for ESPN, Michael Rothstein, detailed why the Falcons are where they are:

Matt Ryan has become a short-field passer this season under new coach Arthur Smith and without star receiver Julio Jones, registering his lowest yards per attempt (6.04) and yards per dropback (5.29) of his career so far. That could have to do with how often he has been hit — so far a career-worst 20.7% of the time — yet he is on pace to complete a career-high 70.9% of his passes. Atlanta’s offense hasn’t been pretty for much of the season, and there haven’t been many shot plays involved, which is why the Falcons’ QBR is where it is.

On tap for Atlanta, this upcomings Sunday is the Washington Football Team, who stayed put at No. 22 in the power rankings, even after getting smacked 43-21 by the Buffalo Bills.


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