THE HOME OFFICE – Where was this four-sack and four-turnover defense hiding at all preseason?
Did inserting Brian Williams into the starting cornerback position make that much of a difference? It helped. Also, the
Falcons mixed in a healthy dose of zone defenses and received an incredible pass rush from the defensive line.
Here’s a quick look at some of the things we learned from the decisive and at times dominating 19-7 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Next up, the Carolina Panthers, who are looking for quarterbacks today. Maybe they’ll ring up Joey Harrington, who was cut by the Saints.
1. THE LINEBACKER UNIT WAS UPGRADED: Last season when you looked at the stat sheet after the game usually Lawyer Milloy and Erik Coleman were the leading tacklers. That’s not a good sign with the safeties lead the team in tackles. Against the Dolphins, the linebackers finished first, second and third. Lofton had 11 tackles, Mike Peterson had seven and Stephen Nicholas had six. “The LBs played like brothers out there,” Nicholas said. “The process started during two-a-days. Mike P came in and we all gelled.”
2. SEND OVER THE BEER MAN: Defensive end Kroy Biermann solidified his spot in the defensive line rotation with two sacks and a forced fumble. “We do not have four defensive linemen,” coach Mike Smith said. “We have seven or eight starting defensive linemen. I think it’s very important that you rotate those players and try to keep them as fresh as possible.”
3. PRESEASON DOESN’T MEAN SQUAT: That defense that played the preseason didn’t bother to show up on Sunday against the Dolphins. These “new” guys can play. “I don’t put a whole lot of stock in what happens in the preseason,” Smith said. “This is a young group of defensive players that haven’t spent a lot of time together. They will continue to get better.”
4. RYAN-TO-GONZALEZ, GET USED TO IT: Quarterback Matt Ryan said tight end Tony Gonzalez makes his job easier. “He’s a mis-match nightmare for defenses,” Ryan said. “Trying to decide if you are going to cover him with a safety, a linebacker or a cornerback (must be difficult). Whether or not if you are going to single cover him.”
5. RUN GAME BOTTLED UP: The Falcons were not overly concerned about their run game being bottled up against the Dolphins. “There are going to be games where we have to run the ball to win,” Ryan said. “There will be games when we have to throw the ball to win.”