Falcons’ defense moved into the Top 10

 

John Abraham believes the Falcons need more sacks to help the pass defense.  Here, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) sits on the field after being sacked by Falcons defensive end John Abraham in the first half of an NFL football game in Chicago. AP John Abraham believes the Falcons need more sacks to help the pass defense. Here, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) sits on the field after being sacked by Falcons defensive end John Abraham in the first half of an NFL football game in Chicago. AP

FLOWERY BRANCH – After shutting down Minnesota, the Falcons’ defense moved into the top 10 for the first time this late in the season under Falcons coach Mike Smith.

 The pass defense (245.7 yards per game) is ranked 23rd. The run defense (83.5) is ranked second. Overall, the defense (329.2) is ranked ninth in the league. The defense was ranked 15th last week, but they jumped up six spots after shutting down Minnesota.

A top 10 defense is almost prerequisite to winning a Super Bowl title.

Eleven of the past 15 Super Bowl winners had a defense that ranked in the top 10 during the regular season.

Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards is all smiles walking on to the field after defeating his former team, the Vikings, 24-14 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards is all smiles walking on to the field after defeating his former team, the Vikings, 24-14 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

The only non-top 10 ranked Super Bowl winning defenses since the 1996 season were: The 1998 Denver Broncos (11th), the 2001 New England Patriots (24th), the 2006 Indianapolis Colts (21st) and the 2009 New Orleans Saints (25th).

The Falcons are set to face rookie quarterbacks in their next three games and could solidify their spot in the top 10 before they face New Orleans on Dec. 26.

To win the NFC, would have to play much better if they face the passing attacks from Green Bay or New Orleans.

The Falcons gave up 396 yards and two touchdowns to the Packers after jumping out to a 14-0 lead.

They gave up 322 yards passing and two touchdowns against the Saints after holding a 13-10 lead with 5:08 to play in the third quarter.

Defensive end John Abraham hopes that the defensive front and can crank up some heat on quarterbacks over the final five regular season games.

“We don’t have the sacks that we want to, but we are doing a good job on the run,” Abraham said. “In past years, our run numbers have been down. I think we are doing a great job of stopping the run this year.”

The Falcons have a gap control 4-3 scheme.

“The linebacker play has been excellent,” Abraham said. “The safeties, everybody has been really picking their games up. They understand what we are trying to do.”

Abraham, who’s tied for the team lead in sacks (four) with Lawrence Sidbury, would like to see the sacks increase.

“We are a little back in sacks, but as long as you’re not giving up two or three hundred yards you can always give yourself a chance as long as you can stop the run,” Abraham said.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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74 comments Add your comment

Marcus

December 2nd, 2011
5:03 am

first? Like the Falcons will be in the NFC South by the time the season is over ?!?! :lol:

Marcus

December 2nd, 2011
5:07 am

Also, is it me or is there some kinda ‘Final Destination’ type calamities going on for the Falcons opponents?

AP gets hurt; doesn’t play
M. Schaub and M. Leinart go down w/injuries
JAX fires Del Rio and sells team on same day

I know that the NFL is a ‘war of attrition’ but I am keeping an eye on CAR and JAX to see whatever strangeness rears its head.

Ernest

December 2nd, 2011
5:43 am

As long as the team concentrates long drives through ball control though running the ball and short passes, the defense will improved. Teams that usually win the time of possession stat have good defenses.

Kurtis

December 2nd, 2011
6:17 am

Just think where the defense would be if we didn’t automatically revert back the soft zone coverages on defense and the 3 and outs on offense in the 3rd quarters of games that we have a lead.

Michael M.

December 2nd, 2011
6:17 am

You knew this was coming, you notice how the Falcons are swarming to the ball lately ?

P B Orr

December 2nd, 2011
6:25 am

Now that we’ve got the run defense down, we should start sending LBs on outside blitzes to help out the munchkins in the backfield. Nothing will improve our pass defense more. The 70s Falcons had a record-setting defense without a great pass rush and with a slow secondary – but their LB core was outstanding and deep.

Nique

December 2nd, 2011
6:38 am

What’s the status of William Moore? I haven’t heard a injury update on him in a few weeks

Michael M.

December 2nd, 2011
6:43 am

Something to ponder on…last year both Atlanta 13-3, New England 14-2, got knocked off in their divisions in the playoffs, believe first game for both clubs. Everybody was down on our team for blowing it well it happen to the Patriots also !

Wouldn’t it be sweet to see these two clubs clash in the Superbowl ? I know that seems far-fetched at the moment and alot probably laugh and think I am nuts here and I may just well be, but its not too out of the ordinary for either of these two teams to get there with the talent they have on both sides of the ball.

New Orleans can have the NFC South Title this year. We tried it that way last year and flopped. I would love to see the Falcons sneak in these playoffs from the backdoor and get to the NFC Title game and play Green Bay and beat em and play the Patriots in the Superbowl.

The 1998 team did it and a lot of what they had that year was players off other teams strung together by Dan Reeves and company.

Lets do it this year Falcons, you are in the drivers seat and in control of your own destiny. Time to shock the world !

12 men in the huddle

December 2nd, 2011
6:47 am

The Falcon defense will never be of champion caliber until more than 1 of our defensive secondary guys knows where he’s suppose to be when they break the huddle! The gaf’s in the secondary must stop or teams like the Packers, N.O. and New England will slap 50 points on us every time we play them! It is improving somewhat…..but these guys in the secondary have to start communicating better with each other so that at least we see them in camera range when an opponents wide receiver catches the ball down field!

Atlanta Native

December 2nd, 2011
6:48 am

@ Kurtis – Amen brother!

Ironic. I’ve been very critical of the DC and OC. Stats don’t win championships. Erk Russell used to say that being #1 only mattered at the end of the season.

Michael M.

December 2nd, 2011
6:55 am

Atlanta hasn’t had the picks either this year because guys are not in the right place at the right time but I think they are long overdue and we just may see some picks coming in Sunday’s Game.

Michael M.

December 2nd, 2011
7:02 am

mmmm no trolls this early in the morning, something must be up with them, maybe sick with the Bird Flu ? ……………………..you know I had to throw a dirty crack at em. Give em some Falcons Smack ! lmao

Atlanta Native

December 2nd, 2011
7:13 am

@ Michael M.

Agreed. The cover schemes are so silly, the right players don’t seem to be in the right place to make the pick. When Van Gorder has a DE or MLB dropping into coverage instead of actually letting them play their intended positions, there is no pass rush. It’s a proven fact that pressure results in sacks, incomplete passes or turnovers. For some reason, Van Gorder refuses to believe that.

Also, several “opportunities” have not been converted. Grimes has dropped a couple and Witherspoon has had a few slip through as well.

Atlanta Native

December 2nd, 2011
7:16 am

Also, manning up, instead of the soft “white flag” zone, would free up an occasional corner blitz. Too often it seems that we play “not to lose” instead of play to win.

SeenThisB4

December 2nd, 2011
7:35 am

@Michael: I thought you said you were done with the trolls. I guess you were just full of it then, as you are now. The falcan’ts have been getting a lot of breaks, as you all have noted, and yet you’re still trailing the Divisional leaders, who remain at their rightful spot. (You know the rest).

Saints R.E.A.M.

December 2nd, 2011
7:39 am

Don’t get too excited Falcons Faithful….you have been fortunate to play a bunch of offensive teams that don’t throw it too well. I mean even Tavaris Jackson gets excited when thinking about facing you guys! That coupled with all of the injury plagued teams (not your fault) you’ll face you might be number 1 in the league in defense. But in reality….when you face good offensive teams your just as helpless as most teams in the league. Congrats.

Tommy

December 2nd, 2011
8:11 am

Dropping into coverage on 3rd down isn’t necessarily a bad strategy, but what the Falcons need to do is vary the scheme a bit. Watch the long passes they give up on 3rd down, and it is either A) a seam route along the left hash, or B) a deep slant into midfield. In the cover-2 we play on 3rd down, two safeties cover deep and the corners take the sidelines. Underneath is almost always wide open. Anyone who has played Madden football knows this, so NFL OCs are going to know it too.

Switching two man-to-man or a 5-man blitz every couple 3rd and longs would help a lot, just to keep opponents guessing.

Milt Olsen

December 2nd, 2011
8:14 am

It does not matter in this league who you play or who you beat. A win is a win, clearly the Falcons are the superior team behing GB, and if something happens to Rodgers then hands down the Falcons are the best team in the NFL. They will not lose a game the rest of the season. They really need to focus on how to beat GB.

The Big Fat Blogger

December 2nd, 2011
8:27 am

LOL sAINTS R.E.A.M,

Judging by last year’s first round play-off performance, I’m sure that the Seahawks have “wet dreams” when they think about the sAINTS,… It doesn’t matter if the QB is Jackson or (in the sAINTS case) Hassellback, crap on us all you like about our team never holding up a lombardi trophy all you want, but we will never let the sAINTS hear the end of losing to a sub .500 team in the playoffs…..

Joe Tess Fish House

December 2nd, 2011
8:30 am

This only happen B Cuz the Flacons played so many teams with a loosing record. This still gave up 14 pts 2 the Vikes and they just plane sux.

Adam

December 2nd, 2011
8:34 am

Also having a FS that is where he is supposed to be would help a lot. DeCoud is a LB wanna be and leaves his deep zone unmanned too many times. Saints R.E.A.M. is actually right….good teams will still exploit the soft zones that underutilize our corners and put too much responsibility on a FS that has no zone discipline, bites on the play action waaaay too easy, and gets lost in space. A lot of times folks are thinking DR gets beat, but he’s actually turned it over to a FS that ain’t where he supposed to be.

Falcon Bill

December 2nd, 2011
8:38 am

We gotta get to Green Bay before we start worrying about Green Bay. Let’s not count our chickens just yet.

In consistent BloGGer

December 2nd, 2011
8:42 am

Darryl…..

What does this mean?

To win the NFC, would have to play much better if they face the passing attacks from Green Bay or New Orleans.

That doesn’t make much sense…….Oh…Pardon me. I forgot you don’t proof read…..Or if you do proof read, you don’t do a very good job.

This post will disappear in 3……2…….1

Counting chickens

December 2nd, 2011
8:45 am

@ Falcon Bill

What does counting chickens have to do with the Falcons?

Falcon Bill

December 2nd, 2011
8:47 am

You know, with all the criticisms and armchair/Monday morning coaching going on, I just want to say how proud I am of our Birds. It doesn’t matter to me who’s hurt or who didn’t play in which game. We’re playing a first-place schedule and doing pretty darned well if you ask me. Our friends three states to the west get to play a second place schedule, (just thought I would throw that out there) like we did last year. So we take turns winning a tough division. Big deal. Just make the playoffs and get hot at the right time.

phil

December 2nd, 2011
8:51 am

Wow.

Why did I read through this drivel?

These have to be the most devoid of anything useful to say posts I’ve read around here in a long time….

Just go pick up your checks today and don’t ever try to find jobs….

joe white

December 2nd, 2011
8:55 am

I see more people on here complaining rather than congratulating. Hell our defense for the past several years has been alomost last but now we number 9 and all i hear is complaints.HEll the offense has taken steps back and truth be told the defense has bailed out the offense more this year. Green bay held to 25 pts and offense only scored 14, offense has killed us this year and our defense has gotten alot better. GO FALCONS I DONT SEE THE OFFENSE IN THE TOP TEN.

joe white

December 2nd, 2011
8:56 am

Defense doing a good job offense needs to score more points in the redzone and not so many fg.

Falcon Bill

December 2nd, 2011
8:58 am

@ Counting chickens

Good one. I guess I mean I don’t want us to lay another egg in the playoffs. I just want them to work hard and stay focused.

12 men in the huddle

December 2nd, 2011
9:09 am

“Also having a FS that is where he is supposed to be would help a lot. DeCoud is a LB wanna be and leaves his deep zone unmanned too many times. Saints R.E.A.M. is actually right….good teams will still exploit the soft zones that underutilize our corners and put too much responsibility on a FS that has no zone discipline, bites on the play action waaaay too easy, and gets lost in space. A lot of times folks are thinking DR gets beat, but he’s actually turned it over to a FS that ain’t where he supposed to be.”

…so I see you see the same thing I see! It’s true that a good pass rush can mask a bad secondary….but there’s no excuse to have such wide open receivers and runners out of the back field when you have 3 linebackers and 4 defensive secondary guys who have any brains at all and know who they are suppose to be covering! I still stand by my comment/observation that in the Falcon secondary only ONE guy knows where he is suppose to be when they break the defensive huddle!

Never_Actually_Won_Anything

December 2nd, 2011
9:13 am

yawn

The Falcons are still terrible. Maybe one day they’ll actually win something.

Mikey

December 2nd, 2011
9:30 am

Congrats to our defense! We really need a top notch defense by the end of the regular season and they are showing continued improvement each week. Although we will miss Brent Grimes for a few weeks, it will be to our advantage to get our secondary backups some more on-field experience in the next few weeks. I think we will see them step up and continue the advancement of this very talented defense. Continued training and experience breeds confidence and confidence breeds performance in the secondary. It has been wonderful to see the solid linebacker play and the solid depth at D-line. This D is much more capable of keeping Green Bay and the Patriots type defenses under control than they were last year. We are benefiting from the depth that has been established and we are seeing players emerge that were just not as capable last year. Great coaching and hard work pays off! They are getting better every week and are reaching a high level of performance. Go Falcons! You are RISING UP!

SeenThisBFalcon

December 2nd, 2011
9:35 am

Sometimes the ball just rolls into your court…hey its not our fault we got an easy schedule to the playoffs….@SeenThisB4 if we get ya slipping on the Monday night it will be the birds feasting on the NFC South crown…

AlanFalcon

December 2nd, 2011
9:52 am

Watch out for another 3rd quarter failure, its become a habit that no one, I mean no one has been able to correct, WE HAVE LOST TWO BIG GAMES THIS YEAR BECAUSE THE TEAM AND COACHING STAFF ARE UNABLE TO UNDERSTAND AND CORRECT WHATEVER THE PROBLEM IS.

trademark

December 2nd, 2011
9:54 am

found an interesting link…http://www.footballoutsiders.com/stats/teamdef….It takes into account strength of schedule when ranking Defenses in the NFL. Using this criteria, Houston is actually not too bad, definitely not #1, as they are hyping to anyone who will listen, rather #7, but interestingly enough, Atlanta is right there with them at #8…not too much of an “edge” for the Texans if you ask me.

Nativebird

December 2nd, 2011
9:54 am

Maybe someone ought to tell this to our HEAD COACH when hand-wringing over a 4th down dei=cision in his own territory with the GAME ON THE LINE!! (jeeesh!).

It’s the FIVE – O baby….the PO – LEECE! Won’t have any one running on his defense…NO SIR.

SawThat1nce

December 2nd, 2011
9:55 am

STDb4……….A “saints fan” complaining about another team getting a lot of breaks?
Is there another team that has gotten as many breaks as the saints, since the big blow to their city?
They got enough breaks to have a SB handed to them in ‘09.
Yeah, that’s right.

D man

December 2nd, 2011
9:56 am

Falcons have the number 1 defense on first and second downs. We are 32nd on 3rd downs. Blitz on 3rd and long dangit…

Samuel

December 2nd, 2011
10:13 am

I’ve seen the defensive backs on this team drop balls that came right to them. The interceptions stat could be more. If the Falcons are to be successful John Abraham and Edwards have to step-up. I hope Dominique Franks and Chris Owens come into their own against the Texans…..

trademark

December 2nd, 2011
10:15 am

….Gonna be a long day for Mr. Yates I think. The Texans will try to push their “two-headed monster” run game, right into the teeth of the Atlanta D. It won’t work. They will TRY to pass at that point, but damn, sorry, third string QB, not just a rookie there. There are such things as good rookie QBs (anybody here remember 11-5 Ryan?) But not 3rd stringers….sorry dude, you were stuck there for a reason. Houston’s going out there with this prepped for about 2 weeks, preseason style, the Falcons are in the middle of 5-1 playoff push and improving weekly, figuring it out piece by piece, and it’s showing up in the stats and the record. Houston is hanging on by it’s finger-nails and trying to rebuild after some very devastating injuries. Lucky for Atlanta? Sure. NFL. Happens. A lot. Go get the “W”. That’s all that really counts in the end.

achybreakyheart

December 2nd, 2011
10:19 am

Really?? Let get a W at Houston and worry about the play 0ffs when it’s time!!
We all know about the UNDER acheiving birds..Anything can and will happen!

Not good

December 2nd, 2011
10:42 am

We need corner help badly. Maybe Owens and Franks can survive the next three weeks because we are playing rookie qbs. If they can and our offense can just put up 20 points are more – we will win these games. WE HAVE TO HAVE GRIMES AND HAYDEN when we play the Saints, and if we go to the Playoffs against teams like the Packers or Cowboys.

Steve-O

December 2nd, 2011
10:44 am

SeenThisB4

December 2nd, 2011
7:35 am

@Michael: I thought you said you were done with the trolls. I guess you were just full of it then, as you are now. The falcan’ts have been getting a lot of breaks, as you all have noted, and yet you’re still trailing the Divisional leaders, who remain at their rightful spot. (You know the rest).
________________________________________________________________________

Good thing the Saints got all those breaks in 2009 too, you clown. Favre is still waiting on his check from the Saints, by the way.

DePlane

December 2nd, 2011
10:55 am

Owens & Franks need to step up against the rookie. Decoud needs to stop over running plays and falling down. With Grimes and Hayden out, O & F need to show or that top 10 defense ranking will be short lived. This is their opportunity; if they fail the Falcons fail. At least it comes against a rook. Let’s hope they have learned from the mistakes of the past. Franks will be the NB and Owens outside. Front seven has to stop HOU run game and pressure Yates into mistakes and help the corners with pressures and hurry’s.

Mike is Back

December 2nd, 2011
10:55 am

DLed, the defense has come on of late…despite our trouble with the passing game…the Defense has put in the work to raise to their number to ten.

I think shuffling in some others guys for Jerry and Kroy could help breath more life in the pass rush…ala Svitek.

Both of those guys have been virtually non-existent all season…you gotta get more production than that.

Fedup Falcon

December 2nd, 2011
11:25 am

Would like to see Sidbury get a start to see what he can do.Seems like he has made the most of the playing time that he’s had.

Mr.White

December 2nd, 2011
11:27 am

What’s with Ray Edwards still sporting Purple and Gold under his pads?? Comeawn maaan….

Geo

December 2nd, 2011
11:38 am

trade, I don’t think TJ is third string because of a lack of ability. He was there because he is a rookie and there was plenty of experienced QB talent on the roster. From what I’ve seen, he looks entirely capable of leading the Houston offense. Both teams are going to be up for this one, and if we were at home, I’d feel confident in a win, but I still think the birds tough it out and win by three or so.

yeahsure

December 2nd, 2011
11:41 am

Grimes will be back to haunt Drees once again this year. Just wait.
It will be a test to the young guys to step these next 2 games with all our injuries. I hope Walls is as good as i thought he’d be during training camp. I’d actually glad we have these road games before the aints game. Matty seems to be getting in a groove. We need to test that on the road with the crowd noise and see if he can maintain his hot streak he’s been having in the no-huddle.

Jay Dubu

December 2nd, 2011
11:48 am

Nice stat to have, but it means absolutely nothing.

When the Falcons defense out and shuts down a playoff team, start the presses!!!