Falcons used “Big Tackle Three” to stop Eagles’ run game

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, bottom right, lays on the grass after Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56) tackled him during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, bottom right, lays on the grass after Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56) tackled him during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

FLOWERY BRANCH — It was abundantly clear early on Sunday that the Falcons’ coaching staff didn’t spend the bye week out on the golf course.

They were in the office, concocting a way to improve their run defense and stop the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Falcons entered the game giving up 143.8 yards rushing per game, but held the Eagles to 92 yards rushing on 24 carries (3.8 yards per carry) in their 30-17 victory.

In obvious run situations, the Falcons used three defensive tackles — Jonathan Babineaux, Vance Walker and Peria Jerry — to knock back the line of scrimmage. Babineaux, normally the “quick tackle,” lined up at defensive end.

“In the bye week, we looked at a lot of different combinations and we had an opportunity to put some things up on the board and get some dust, so to speak, in the bottom of the chalkboard,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said Monday. “We put different things together and looked at some different combinations.

“We went into this game with a little bit of a different strategy and I thought that it helped us in our run defense.”

Defensive tackle Corey Peters subbed in and out for Jerry during the second half. He played 20 of 63 snaps (32 percent) in his first game back from a preseason stress fractured foot injury.

“He gives us some flexibility in terms of moving guys around on our defensive line,” Smith said. “Not necessarily always playing left and right. It gives us some flexibility and helps us in our rotation.”

The Falcons’ rush defense average dropped more than seven yards to 136.4 yards per game. Before Monday’s play, they ranked 26th in the league.

In addition to playing the extra tackles, defensive end Kroy Biermann was used in multiple roles. He served as the “spy” defender on Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. His job: attack Vick if he decided to run.

Biermann, who finished with seven tackles and one sack, performed well against the fleet quarterback, who ran for 42 yards.

“I thought he put good pressure on the quarterback,” Smith said. “He had one sack, had an opportunity for another and he chased the quarterback out of the pocket one time and he gained like two yards on a pass play. So it ended up not being a registered sack, but it was a heck of a play.”

Before the Philadelphia game, the Falcons had given up at least 116 yards per game. Four weeks before, Carolina rushed for 199 yards. Denver’s Willis McGahee and Washington’s Alfred Morris both rushed for more than 100 yards against the Falcons.

In the game leading into the bye-week, Oakland rushed for 149 yards, the second-most against them this season. Those numbers led the coaches to the chalk board to come up with a remedy.

“It was the best performance of the season,” Smith said. “I thought we were tackling much more crisply. Our angles to the ball, our pursuit angles were much better.”

After the coaches put together their plan, they presented it to the players, who took the entire bye week off. A back-to-basics practice last Monday was critical.

“It was very remedial, that practice,” Smith said. “We wanted to get back and break down football into its simplest form. It basically comes down to blocking and tackling.”

The Falcons did everything but break out tackling dummies.

“We spent a whole lot of time breaking down different components of the different types of tackles,” Smith said. “I thought that our coaching staff did a good job on our Monday practice. It was probably just 45 minutes of remedial, eight-grade football. Some times, we need to get back and do that.”

The players brought into the fundamental review.

“Some times you can’t see the forest because of the trees,” Smith said. “We needed to step back and work on some fundamentals after our bye week.”

Defensive John Abraham was pleased with the unit’s effort.

“There weren’t many missed tackles,” Abraham said. “A lot of the big runs in weeks prior came from missed tackles. We did a good job of wrapping up.”

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64 comments Add your comment

dean

October 30th, 2012
8:18 am

If it wouldn’t have been for great effort on Philly #25’s part, the rushing allowed total would have been MUCH less. Good job Falcons.

Thanks DLed.

andy

October 30th, 2012
8:26 am

Can see a difference in coaching this year. A willingness to make adjustments to the base defense. First, the amoeba against Peyton Manning and now 3 tackles against a run team. This looks promising. Still waiting to see some sort of all out pass rush defense — maybe an offshoot of the amoeba with Biermann and Sidbury playing as quasi-linebackers / ends and rushing along with Abe.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

FalconFanSince RunNShoot#!M1983

October 30th, 2012
8:33 am

Umm I was overall very impressed on da job we did on shady mccoy.. As usual #10 didnt shw up for some reason I think he is scared of our DB’s all of em will put da WOOOD on you.. Roll on FalcoNation!!!!! Feels SOOOO RIGHHTTT

PMC

October 30th, 2012
8:36 am

I love this coaching staff. I love this team. I love that Thomas Dimitroff’s faith is paying off on a lot of guys.

This team really is humble and hungry. Willing to work on the fundamentals they need even as professionals.

Look at the results! The tackling was brilliant Sunday.

FalconFanSince RunNShoot#!M1983

October 30th, 2012
8:36 am

Andy also very great point about coaching staff… Love da new blood, its OUR time 2 win.. We’ve been n da dumps n da joke for years!!! RiseUP

Hamad Meander

October 30th, 2012
8:42 am

Enter your comments here

Marcus

October 30th, 2012
8:43 am

I like the innovation (ditto andy) and flexibility of thought by the new coordinators.

Even though we are only 7 games in, we can say the top 4 teams in the NFC are:

ATL (NFC South)
NYG (NFC East)
SF (NFC West)
CHI (NFC North)

if all things remained the same, I would hazard to guess that MIN and GB would grab the last 2 playoff spots, as nobody else right now looks to be a threat to sniff the post-season in the NFC South, the 49ers have punked everyone in the NFC West, and the remaining NFC East teams lack the mental toughness and/or veteran savvy to challenge for a wild card.

That said, on paper and by some distant observation (highlights and prime time games), the proposition of facing the respective defensive prowess of SF, NYG and CHI in the playoffs is borderline scary. We need the D block and Abe to be peaking in January and all this rest that Burner is getting (by virtue of reduced no. of carries) needs to manifest itself as having fresh legs come playoff time.

Hamad Meander

October 30th, 2012
8:43 am

Finally – using some innovation on both sides of the ball. I’ve always thought that mixing it up defensively could pay off sometime. I really like what this team is doing this season. They are aggressive, innovative, imaginative, and sharp.

Esquire

October 30th, 2012
8:46 am

Marcus
October 30th, 2012
8:43 am

****************************************
I like to take ‘em one game at a time. Next Up: Dallas

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Answer This

October 30th, 2012
8:53 am

All the TROLLS are in the closet! That D looked darn good…..but the next BIG game is Sunday night. Every week we have had BIG games and I like the mindset! Every next game is the BIGGEST of the season. The Angry Birds are resting and we come in today to check out film and start planning.

kd

October 30th, 2012
9:56 am

wow, this is what im talking about, falcon fans on here talking about football! you all took the words out of my mouth!!! @Marcus @esquire-right on point both of you! @hamad-you are right, they look very polished.@pmc-humble and hungry will be the key to going to the big dance,@andy- do you think that Nolan will be willing to mix it up even more????@ dean- youre right shady is awesome, you can only contain him and we did for the most part! good convo FAlcon Nation!

DR. FALCON

October 30th, 2012
9:58 am

GREAT JOB BY COACH SMITTY, AND COACH NOLAN! THIS LEAGUE IS ALL ABOUT ADJUSTMENTS! CAN’T WAIT WHAT THEY WILL CONJURE UP AGAINST TONY ROMO, AND THE DALLAS “COWGIRLS”!

Esquire

October 30th, 2012
10:02 am

Love the scheme……………….

Kudo’s to spread all around but Biermann was flying around like a Man On Fire!! Matt “Automatic” Bryant!!! Oh you Dirty Birds!!!!!

Esquire

October 30th, 2012
10:04 am

North FLA Falcon

October 30th, 2012
10:09 am

The Cowboys receivers are similar to the Falcons: a tough tight end, Jason Whitten, and talented speedy receivers. It’s going to be fun.

Redcoat

October 30th, 2012
10:10 am

“Big Tackle Three”……Wow have times changed! Go Falcons!

Ueeediot

October 30th, 2012
10:22 am

Hey Mike, we got us a #7 over here in Atlanta now, too!

Ueeediot

October 30th, 2012
10:24 am

This is such a wonderful season. Coordinators who actually put together a game plan based upon the team they are playing and not just their own personal outlooks. Coordinators who seem to actually value all of the players on the roster!

Speaking of which, how are Auburn and Jacksonville doing this year? I havent heard much about them on any of the shows.

kd

October 30th, 2012
11:10 am

d led has been on troll patrol, good work

D. Orlando Ledbetter

October 30th, 2012
11:26 am

kd — Thanks

D. Orlando Ledbetter

October 30th, 2012
11:28 am

North FLA Falcon — Good point.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

October 30th, 2012
11:28 am

Esquire – Thanks for giving us the Pro Bowl ballot.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

October 30th, 2012
11:34 am

dean – You are welcome!

Michael M .

October 30th, 2012
11:38 am

Falcons – 44 ……..Cowgirls – 12

True Falcon Fan

October 30th, 2012
12:14 pm

11:38 — I think the Falcons will win the game this coming Sunday night!

However,,,,Rob Ryan’s defense is “Very Good”! Also TR9 will most likely cough-up the ball at least 2-3 times. Don’t under estimate this bunch they could buckle it down, their RB Murray is a serious force to wreak-on with the man is very big extremely strong & very fast!! He’s had some ankle problem of late, So if RB Murray is good to go Sunday night for big D, Falcons “Tackle Three” will have there hands full for sure.

If the OL protects MR2, Matt will pick the CaBoys apart, underneath & deep! Also we can run on CaBoys LB’s if we get past their DL…… Dallas CowBoys DL is “EXCELLENT”!!!

Falcons — 28 — CaBoys — 20

Go Falcons

Th

October 30th, 2012
12:16 pm

I already erased the game from my DVR but from memory we ran a 3-3-5 with Biermann as a LB and a DT with edge contain responsibilities much more than 4-3 with 3 DTs. Both are very encouraging as my biggest complaint in the last few years was the overly conventional and predictable play on both sides of the ball. Bottom line looks to be Edwards is on the bench and Babs takes snaps at end to give Abe and Biermann a break. Clearly the coaches don’t have any confidence in Sidbury for some reason. Sidbury and Edwards were both on the field for the Eagles second TD.

BTCV

October 30th, 2012
12:17 pm

D-Led…see any trades happening for the Falcons?

True Falcon Fan

October 30th, 2012
12:21 pm

Also i forgot to add —- all the fans out here in Dallas, Tx —- would love to trade Tony “Danny White” Romo for Mathew “Mattie Ice” Ryan —- if you guys want to give him up —- we’ll take ole “Noddle ARM” any day????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Go Falcons —- CaBoys next

True Falcon Fan

October 30th, 2012
12:23 pm

Jus Sayin —– hello dumbashes!!!!!

Ueeediot

October 30th, 2012
12:24 pm

@BTCV who would you trade and who would you go for?

True Falcon Fan

October 30th, 2012
12:26 pm

12:16 Excellent post & point!

lowdownjj

October 30th, 2012
12:42 pm

Babs has been playing in +90% of all the defensive snaps this year. Hopefully going forward as Peters gets his feet under him, we can reduce his snaps. Need to do a better job of keeping him fresh.

Answer This

October 30th, 2012
12:42 pm

Chemistry is important and these guys like each other and play hard for each other. Dont know many LB’s that are being traded or DL’ or perhaps another OL’s just for safety! I still like our RB’s by committee and they are building up every week! This will be a tough game. Dallas is a tough team and will not lay down so we have to grind out another tough win. One point of reference (dont know how much it matters, as you see what we did to Philly coming off a bye and they had won 13 straight) Dalls has not won on Sunday night football in the last 5 games:
http://cowboysblog.dallasnews.com/2011/12/cowboys-have-five-game-losing-1.html/
Like I said dont know how much it matters but hopefully there is a mind block that keeps them from winning on Sunday! Now can we begin to RISE UP? I know its only Tuesday but I have this urge to RISE UP and fly like a FALCON!

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Samuel

October 30th, 2012
2:01 pm

Out of all the conversation about the D- line, you don’t hear Ray Edwards name. Coach Nolan has come in here and realized that this dude week to week is not productive. If Edwards could get eight sacks like he did in Minnesota and help stop the run, this defense would be a non issues. Plus Abe would be more successful. I’m glad Corey Peters is back and in no time will see how he’s going to help this team down the line. The Falcons gave Edwards a decent contract, unfortunately they haven’t got much for their money.

warfalcon

October 30th, 2012
2:09 pm

All I have to say is ONE GAME AT A TIME,LETS GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mora less Petrino

October 30th, 2012
2:24 pm

Excellent, informative article! Super Bowl or not, the Birds are on a good course. Glad to read that the team used the bye week so effectively.
Wasn’t that TD pass to Julio sweet?

Roger

October 30th, 2012
2:45 pm

I see from the ESPN blog that Seen this Before has been banned from AJC blog hahaha, straight from his mouth!

TommyNobisfan60

October 30th, 2012
2:53 pm

All eyes on the Falcons Sun. night. It is time to show the world what we already know. Fast tempo with a lot of weapons on offense and a defense that swarms the ball like mad men. The Falcons know how to comeback and now know how to put the hammer down on teams. The Falcons are the total package this year. When the Falcons lost my favorite player Grimes I thought oh man but the Falcons keep plugging in players that don’t miss a beat when they have injuries and that is what championship teams do.

Mora less Petrino

October 30th, 2012
3:01 pm

This is how it should be. Good article about the Falcons, for Falcons’ fans, and so far, not one lame troll comment.

Mick

October 30th, 2012
3:01 pm

Ray Edwards, WHERE YOU AT???

Mr. Hankey's Christmas special

October 30th, 2012
5:04 pm

I feel good about Sunday’s game with this caveat. (Not sure what that’s means but it sounds intelligent, it’s something Latin– caveat emptor — buyer beware) The Boy’s have most always held a sacref funk over the Falcons. It’s in the past, I know, but I still feel the pain from 1980 and Drew Hill’s catch with 1:30 in the game to put the Boys in the Super Bowl. That said, I’ll be there, more than lit up both emotionally and alchohically, pulling for the Birds. Truthfully, I hate it when I feel “good” about a game. it’s kind of like feeling “good” about a jury verdict and they come back and I feel bad because of the craziness of unpredictability. ‘Nuf sed.

Mr. Hankey's Christmas special

October 30th, 2012
5:05 pm

P.S. Kudos, Mick. Ray Edwards, where are you because you sure as heck ain’t playing D end.

Mr. Hankey's Christmas special

October 30th, 2012
5:08 pm

Make that lunacy of unpredictability.

Tokenwhiteguy

October 30th, 2012
5:15 pm

I have been reading this blog for years, but never really comment unless provoked by a troll like Seenthis. I have been watching and rooting for ATL since I was 11 years old. Chris Miller to Andre Rison was a big part of the O back then. Neon Dieon could muster a return or two. That was enough to captivate me as a child. This is the best I have seen themever. There will always be that part of me waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I am doing my best to just enjoy it. If anything, they have been fun to watch! Go Falcons!

True Falcon Fan

October 30th, 2012
5:28 pm

Hey 5:04 — re: 1980 you are right the CaBoys came to Atl and beat the best team in the NFL at that time. Went onto SF and got beat by Montana & Clark i.e., “The Catch” — Niners went on from there and won 4 out 5 Super Bowl following……The Smith’s really screwed the pooch when they fired Lehman Bennett and brought in “No Coach – Dan Henning” . Who basically dismantled NFL’s best team at a serious discount to Joe Gibbs/Redskins… and that was the way it went!

But this is 2012 —- we’ve got NFL’s BEST/Owner: A. Blank, G/M — Thomas Demtrioff — HC/Smitty – BEST OC, DC & staff ever & we are 7 – 0 at present —- Baby we be lookin’ GOOD don’t cha know!

RISE-UP, RISE-UP, ATL, RISE-UP

Go Falcons —- CaBoys Next

Tokenwhiteguy

October 30th, 2012
5:32 pm

We can see now that the change in coordinators was a good idea. I believe Koetter and Nolan are better X’s and O’s guys than Mularkey and BVG. And since TD and Smitty were so big on character and football IQ it makes for a perfect match. Aren’t we glad we didn’t get Spags now? I know I am.

True Falcon Fan

October 30th, 2012
5:38 pm

5:04 this will help you —- 1980 game

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FT7duiJm-6o

Go Falcons