Foyesade Oluokun, 2020 Pro Bowl snub, could have that little green dot on his helmet this year. Oluokun, former 6th rounder, received some high praises from HC Arthur Smith after Day 6 of the Atlanta Falcons 2021 training camp. “(Foye)’s done a really nice job. He had a very productive last year. It’s early but he’s taken over that MIKE LB role and RUN with it”
Traditionally the MLB, or Mike, is the captain and play caller of the defense. Their helmets usually have the green dot indicating radio receiver installed to be able to get play calls from coaches.
Deion Jones has manned the MLB spot since he won the job his rookie training camp in 2016. He’s held it down, bringing us amazingly clutch play. Now, When Deion went down in 2018, then rookie 1st year LB (converted Safety) Oluokun, was the one who attempted to fill in that role. It went better than we initially thought it would go, but the inexperienced rookie’s communication proved to be an area that immensely missed Jones’ presence on the field.
Largely due to injury the defense as a whole struggled. Foye totaled 91 tackles his rookie campaign. His first year in the NFL he made a full time change to LB and produced. After Deion’s return, and in ‘19, Foye’s production expectedly dropped. While he continued to develop his skills, he played more of a rotational role, splitting reps with Duke Riley, and filling in for Devondre Campbell and Jones when called upon. Foye’s hard work paid off. Last season (2020), was his first as a full-time starter. Oluokun had 117 tackles, 4 Forced Fumbles and 2 Interceptions. Another year, more responsibility for the former Yale Bulldog. Now in his 4th NFL season, Foye Oluokun looks a lot more comfortable at MLB.
Foye has a magnetic attraction to the ball; with the ability to take it whenever he wants it, his energy pops and may prove to be the catalyst of this defense. Deion is a proven closer. Already known for his opportunistic plays at clutch moments and diagnoses, recognition of opposing plays. While both 45 & 54 got more opportunities to rush the passer last year, it was Jones who flashed more in that area. Unretired Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees will masterfully combine these blazing fast linebackers with Pro Bowler Grady Jarrett and “fireball” Marlon Davidson up front. We may be significantly more dynamic in the middle than in recent years.
Oluokun has grown with each opportunity along his journey to and in the NFL. This will be no different. Foye will always be around the ball, and as long as he can communicate like this wired/Mic’d up clip from camp this year(2:04), Debo will have less mental burden. Theoretically unleashing him to make even more iconic plays. The shuffle at ILB should prove fruitful. Pro Bowl nods for both could very well be coming soon.