A Little More Confidence In 2015 For Jackson & Soliai


FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga.- – 2014 was not the year the Falcons or their key free agents signings of defensive linemen Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson were hoping to accomplish. Both players would combine for only 56 tackles and one sack (Soliai) last season.

Now, enter new head coach Dan Quinn and the experience he brings from Seattle and other stops in football, while coaching up defensive linemen. It was one of his calling card’s when he was hired by the Falcons to be their new head coach.

In addition to the hiring the Falcons also retained their position coach from a year ago, with Bryan Cox getting to stay.

Coming off that rough season and the fact that some continuity was in order for players like Soliai, he says that the past we easy to leave behind.

“Last year was last year,” Soliai said. “Like coach says, we’ve just got to think ahead. I’m just blessed and thankful that I’m here this year doing a lot better.”

The production for Soliai was about middle of the road when it comes to the totals that he has posted over his career.

Now, he gets to play in a system and on a defensive line that he thinks is really fun to be a part of.

“Its just like you’re playing with your family in the backyard,” Soliai said. “Just all out. do whatever you’ve got to do, but do your assignment and give it 110 percent.”

Dan Quinn says that their jobs on the defensive line are different than they had last season in a 3-4 scheme under then defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. He says now they’re not going to see as much “2-gap” play as they saw last year. Therefore, they were recommended to lose some weight.

“To their credit, they’ve both done that,” Quinn said. “That competition goes back and forth with them. They’re building a great chemistry and relationship across the line. It’s carrying over to the other guys as well.”

Jackson says that he lost 18 pounds over the offseason and did so with a very unique method of training.  He and second year defensive tackle Rashede Hageman made their way out to California to train in mixed martial arts with NFL on Fox’s Jay Glazer.

“It was insane,” Jackson told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC. “It was my first time taking part in something like that. I can honestly say that guys in the MMA and UFC world, those guys, should be paid more attention to, because the things that they do are real violent and real effective.”

That effectiveness was shown in the first half last Friday, when Soliai got to Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota first and then Jackson followed up to complete the sack.

That is a play that Soliai says was exciting for everyone.

“It’s just playing physical,” Soliai said. “I’m just glad Tyson was there to finish the play. That’s something me and him have been working on this whole offseason.”

The Falcons first team defense was only on the field for the first two series of the game last Friday night. We can expect that will change this week when they head to New Jersey to take on the Jets at the Metlife Stadium.

One thing that is for sure. Judging from the Titans game and today at practice, the defensive front is playing with confidence. That is something we haven’t seen the past few years.

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