The Atlanta Falcons did plenty of homework on Dontari Poe before signing the former Kansas City Chiefs nose tackle as a free agent.
They were primarily interested in seeing how his play in the Chiefs’ base 3-4 scheme would translate into the Falcons’ base 4-3 front. That involved combing through plenty of video from the past few seasons to find instances where Poe did much of what he would do with the Falcons.
‘Oftentimes, you had to find passing scenarios where he would play up the field’
Coach Dan Quinn and others in the team’s hierarchy concluded that Poe would have no problem making the transition, and gave him a contract.
“Let’s find clips of him doing what he would do in our system and penetrate,” Quinn told Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller on Movin’ the Chains. “So oftentimes, you had to find passing scenarios where he would play up the field. He’s got the size of a big guy, but the quickness of a smaller guy. So he has the bulk to be able to play all the two-gap techniques that you would like a nose tackle to do, but he also had the quickness to get upfield. So that’s how we want to feature him, where we can use some of that quickness to get on a guard and try and align him over a guard as often as we can to put that pressure on him.”
‘I wanted him to have a real understanding … this is how we’d feature you in our defense’
The Falcons also looked for something that resembled a defensive package that utilized Poe in weak-side containment player or strong-side containment in an over-front.
“What we did was intercut those plays that he was doing those type of moments at Kansas City and then intercut them with our plays,” Quinn said. “And I wanted him to have a real understanding, if he was going to come to Atlanta, this is how we’d feature you in our defense. I thought that would be fair for him. When you play nose tackle, your feet are square and you don’t play north-south quite as much. You play aggressive with your hands. And then the wider you get, your stagger changes, you get more upfield penetration, so that’s how we wanted to show how we could feature him in the system.
‘He’ll play a little lighter than he has over the last couple of years’
“He’ll play a little lighter than he has over the last couple of years (the listed weight on his 6-foot-3 frame is 346 pounds), but that’s by design to play all the upfield stuff that we want to.”