No one expected the injury plague to hit the Atlanta Falcons like it has. A lot of us were expecting a top tier defense. Unfortunately, the Football Gods and some may say Adam Caplan, had another plan written out for Dan Quinn. So as Ricardo Allen goes down this week with a torn ACL, once again Quinn turns to the Brotherhood and for the next man up to rise.
Next Man Up
This has always been a theme around the sports world. This season, it truly needs to happen for the Atlanta Falcons to have success. Ricardo Allen out for season, leads to the rise of Jordan Richards to step in at strong safety. Damontae Kazee moves over to free safety. Two young inexperienced guys now have to replace arguably one of the best safety duos in the league. Quinn has persistently denied the thought of adding Eric Reid or Earl Thomas through trade. Regardless, Andy Dalton has been throwing the ball well. With AJ Green dominating as usual, and Tyler Boyd off to a stellar start this season. The Falcons will need to rely heavily on these safeties to help prevent the pass. We know our linebackers will have their hands full with Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard.
Atlanta’s pass rush has been extremely poor to the start of this season. Tak McKinley leads the team with a pass rush win percentage of 16.4%. However, no other falcon breaks over 10%. That is a clear issue. If Quinn wants to find a way to create poor throws, pressure is the best way to get there. Last season, Andy Dalton’s passer rating was 57.1 with pressure. Fortunately, McKinley is back practicing and should be active this week. However, Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett need to get back to 2016 form if we want to see significant improvement this week. The Bengals have only given up four sacks proving this will be a difficult task. But this struggling Falcons defense could use a significant boost. This D-line’s improvement could be the answer.
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Last week, Marquand Manuel admitted to his bunch missing 15 tackles on Sunday. It was quite obvious tackling was a big issue. Giving up that Drew Brees spin move for a touchdown was outright brutal. Giovani Bernard is another shifty running back that knows how to make people miss. With Joe Mixon still not practicing, we should see a lot of Giovani Bernard this week. Atlanta has given up 29 receptions to Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey in the past two weeks, and Giovani Bernard has been known for being shifty in the backfield. I expect Lewis and Dalton to try and exploit the Falcons Linebackers by getting Bernard the ball often. I am sure Quinn and Manuel made tackling a point of emphasis. It will be crucial, as always, that Atlanta secures tackles both in the backfield and in open field to limit big plays and get 3rd down stops. That is something this defense just could not get done last week.
I have predicted three straight wins for Atlanta and have been 1 for 3 sadly. I remain hopeful that they can take care of business at home this week. To win this football game, Atlanta will need its defense to be able to get off the field. They need to limit long drives and be fresh the entire game. The best way for this defense to get off the field quick is to apply pressure every single play to Andy Dalton and secure third down stops by making open field tackles 100% of the time. I expect another high scoring affair, but Atlanta should come out on top 34-24.