The Atlanta Falcons are currently sitting at 2-3 right now. The Falcons as a team are currently third in the NFC South. While this is not a great start for the team, many people inside and outside of the organization probably expected this. The main problem comes from the defensive side of the ball. Of course, football fans all across the country will look at this defensive depth chart and think the lack of big-name players or established vets was the root of the cause. Looking at the box scores through the season compared to the defensive stats, it’s pretty apparent where the problem lies.
The one problem for this team is that they are not a full defensive unit. The Atlanta Falcons have a few stand-outs on the defensive side of the football. These players include its linebacker core of Mykal Walker, Rashaan Evans and Sam linebacker Lorenzo Carter. Cornerbacks A.J. Terrell and Casey Hayward are two guys who have made a name for themselves.
Mykal Walker is tied-ninth in forced fumbles and tied-13th in solo tackles. Right beside Walker is Rashaan Evans with 18 solo tackles and two fumble recoveries. Alongside Rashaan Evans, Sam linebacker Lorenzo Carter helps set the edge for the defense. He currently has 13 total tackles along with one and a half sacks for the season.
On the air attack, Casey Hayward has two pat downs and one interception. On the opposite side of the field, A.J. Terrell has four pat downs along with 22 total tackles. Along with some of the front seven that were mentioned, there is one more man that is setting the tone for the defense. That man is defensive tackle Grady Jarrett. Grady currently has three and a half sacks on the season (tied for 13th in the NFL). Jarrett also has ten solo tackles and 14 quarterback pressures. Both sacks and quarterback pressure are on pace to break his career highs.
There have been a lot of positives to come; but, remember that the game of football is a team sport. The Falcons’ overall defense has a whole lot to work on if they want to have any postseason success. The Falcons’ defensive backs have allowed 1391 yards on the air and have allowed eight passing touchdowns. As a rushing defense, they have allowed 574 rushing yards and have allowed five rushing touchdowns.
Overall, the Falcons as a defense has allowed nearly 2000 total yards and nearly thirteen total touchdowns. This defense is 29th in the NFL for passing yards allowed, T-22nd in total points allowed and 26th in the NFL in total yards allowed. This is underwhelming for a team that looked to build off of its young talent.
“The problems that we have had in the games have still been communication errors…” said defensive coordinator Dean Pees in an interview headed into the team’s week five matchup against the Buccaneers, “… as long as we are communicating and stuff, we have a chance.”
If one person does not know the game plan heading into the game, it can hurt the team as a whole. Everyone on the field, from corners and safeties down to defensive tackles and nose guards has to know what their role is. Everyone has to know every scheme, formation and play call or it will lead to big plays that can cause a team to surrender almost 2000 passing yards through five contests.
Now, do not let this story tell you that the Falcons are a bad team this year. Compared to everyone in their division, their chances for the division title are far from lost as they’re only a game behind first place. It takes everyone utilizing their talent and building chemistry throughout the 18-game season.