FLOWERY BRANCH – We checked defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder and secondary coach Tim Lewis for a Sunday story on the improved play of the defense.
The unit is leading the league in interceptions with 10, by nine different players. They have 11 sacks by six different players.
“I think it’s a product of playing fast,” VanGorder said. ”Again, for some of our younger players the game is slowing down for them. They are seeing things better. But mainly it comes from a group playing hard and playing faster.”
The Falcons have faced starting quarterback Dennis Dixon, Derek Anderson, Drew Brees, Alex Smith and Seneca Wallace. They are getting ready to face Kevin Kolb on Sunday.
It’s unclear if the unit will be able to sustain its high-level of play when they face top-shelf quarterbacks.
“Guys have to come in every week and continue to approach everything from a professional level to get some consistency in how they perform,” VanGorder said. “They have to work in practice and right through the week as we prepare for a game.”
Defensive tackle Corey Peters, the team’s third round draft pick, has been solid.
“He’s still has a lot of work to do, but he’s a good young player,” VanGorder said. “He’s been real solid for us here through five games.”
The pass defense will have to hold up over the long haul.
“It starts with a good pass rush,” VanGorder said. “The pass rush has been more consistent this year. Again, you guys like to look at sacks and we like sacks too, but pressure on quarterbacks and how you effect the quarterback has been real solid for us.”
VanGorder has been pleased with first round pick Sean Weatherspoon, too. However, he’s likely to miss Sunday’s game against the
“The addition of Sean Weatherspoon has been good for us in a number of situations in game,” VanGorder said. “There are a lot of guys doing a good job right now.”
Lewis is a former defensive coordinator and was brought in to oversee the remaking of the secondary.
“Leading the league in interception thing is a by product of a bunch of different things,” Lewis said. “The defensive line is doing a fantastic job of rushing the passer and affecting him. The signal caller, Brian is doing a great job of calling the plays and putting them in position to make plays and we’ve been lucky. Sometimes it bounces the right way.”
The staff went ahead an announced that William Moore had won the starting strong safety job this week. Erik Coleman was injured in the Pittsburgh game, but has been active for the last two games.
“We are fortunate to have two really good football players in Erik and William,” Lewis said. ”William got an opportunity to go in when Erik was injured and is doing a fantastic job. He brings size, strength and speed, all that skill that you need to be successful at that position. He’s made some plays.
“It’s just like everything else, you don’t want to upset the apple cart if the guy has a hot hand. You just keep rolling with him and that’s what we’ve done. He’s done a good job of assuming the role. He works very hard and diligent.”