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


October 30th, 2012
5:42 pm

Atlanta fans always afraid of the other shoe to drop.From the Hawks, Braves, and Falcons. Let go of that fear. The Falcons deserve us to let go of that fear. They are giving us a team to be proud of and don’t deserve us to doubt them. Give them your all and they will give us everything they have come every Sun.. Us fans have to change. We have to expect greatness. We have to expect to go out there and win every game. It starts with us fans believing the Falcons are our hero. If a game does not go our way do not start criticising the team and saying here we go again. Let’s shake it off and get ready for the next week. GOOOOOOOOOOO FALCONSSSSSSSS

True Falcon Fan

October 30th, 2012
5:43 pm

SORRY 5:04 —- Jan 10, 1982 was the catch — please accept my apologies


October 30th, 2012
5:50 pm

You are right at first i was so mad thinking RVG was the fall guy for last yr but I was wrong.

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October 30th, 2012
8:48 pm

We need to try someone else at defense end besides “take my money big pay Ray Edwards.” Experiement gone wrong. We can’t hurt ourselves given how little he has done and perhaps will give otthers an opportunity to develop. Let’s just right this off and move on.

old falc

October 30th, 2012
9:45 pm

look at AUBURN now that they have BVG -SO GLAD HES GONE


October 30th, 2012
11:17 pm

Fan: on Advancednflstats.com they have Abe ranked #4 and Biermann ranked #25 among DE’s in the NFL. That’s not bad.


October 30th, 2012
11:23 pm

Great posts. I usually do not comment, I just read but I must point out…where is SEEN at?? Awfully quiet after Falcons dominated this week and the aints got blown out.


October 30th, 2012
11:51 pm


Double Zero Eight

October 31st, 2012
7:42 am

That’s what coaching is about…….making adjustments.
Van Gorder would have never made this type of adjustment.


October 31st, 2012
10:32 am

Thanks, Nobis. I think really started blaming him when we played GB the next time after our home playoff lost to them. Defense played great first half. Then the GB WR’s started running more vertical routes and Rodgers started throwing more up field because our DB’s were jumping the outs and curl routes in the first half. BVG never adjusted even after GB hitting several down field shots.


October 31st, 2012
11:46 am

@ esquire…How about Auto”Matt”ic Bryant for a new nickname!!!!


November 1st, 2012
5:46 am

It also doesnt hurt when you build a huge lead and force the other team into passing situations. The offense put the Eagles in that situation. Good job Falcons. Lets ride this thing all the way to the Super Bowl.

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