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If Stopping Run First Priority, Falcons Need Serious Help


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If stopping run first priority, Falcons need serious help

By Vaughn McClure | ESPN.com

Kroy Biermann actually fared pretty well, personally, against the run Monday night. But the Falcons outside linebacker/defensive end didn't look at his performance against the Packers from an individual perspective.

As a defense, the Falcons struggled to stop anything, including the run.

"It's just basic football,'' Biermann said. "You've got to be consistent. Everybody's got to do their job and beat the man across from them. That's what it boils down to. You've got to play as a unit. If you're not playing as a unit, then holes are going to open up and things are going to fall apart.

[+] Enlargenfl_u_lacy01jr_C_300x200.jpg
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY SportsThe Falcons had their hands full with Eddie Lacy, and it won't get easier with Le'Veon Bell coming in.

"The key to winning games is stopping the run against any team. If they can run the ball on you, it's probably going to be a long day. You've got to stop the run and make them throw it. And when they throw it, you've got to cover and you've got to rush. So, it's basic football that you've got to get sound with and do.''

The Falcons, 21st in the league against the run, surrendered 179 yards rushing yards to the Packers in Monday's 43-37 loss. James Starks and Eddie Lacy combined for 148 of those yards and each averaged 5.6 yards per carry or better. Lacy started the game with an explosive 22-yard run, and Starks pretty much ended it with a 41-yard blast with just under two minutes remaining.

Of course, the Packers' final rushing total was inflated by those big runs and Aaron Rodgers ability to scramble. Regardless, the Falcons played undisciplined with plenty of mental errors as well as missed tackles.

“Yeah, we had some misfits obviously there at the end of the game,'' Falcons coach Mike Smith. "The 41-yard explosive run, we misfitted. Again, when you misfit a run there’s a chance you’re going to give up a lot of yardage, and that’s what took place on that particular play.

"We didn’t tackle well. Our tackling not only in the pass game, but in the check down game was a concern. We’ve got to get multiple pads on the big backs because they’re going to run through one-on-one opportunities. Our tackling and our leverage was not very good. I can recall a couple of times we had three guys pursuing to the ball and had him within three or four yards, and we had seven missed tackles on one specific play. It was a checkdown play, but we’ve got to be much better. So my concern coming out the game was our tackling. We didn’t tackle well.''

The Falcons better figure out a way to resolve those issues quickly or else their chances of making a playoff push might evaporate. One of the league's best young running backs visits the Georgia Dome Sunday when Le'Veon Bell at the Steelers come to town. Bell, named the AFC's Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday, has amassed 711 total yards over his last three games.

“Well, he’s going to have a challenge very similar to what we had in the game [Monday],'' Smith said of Bell. "He’s not just doing it carrying the ball; he’s doing it catching the ball as well. It’s going to be a challenge for us. They’ve got a big strong quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger that’s hard to get on the ground. He doesn’t move like the quarterback we played this past week, but he does extend plays, so there’s going to be some things we definitely have to be better at in this ball game this week than we were last night.”

Defensive lineman Tyson Jackson was asked about the challenge presented by Bell.

"You can't worry about one person on the team: You have to worry about the entire offense,'' Jackson said. ``So we've got to come out, go back to the drawing board, and play our style of defense. We've got to start knocking those guys back and start playing on the other side of line of scrimmage, and start making plays in the backfield.''

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Defensive snaps against Packers and the Falcoholic's analysis thereon:

Paul Worrilow: 68 (100%)
Desmond Trufant: 68
Dwight Lowery: 68
Robert McClain: 62
Kroy Biermann: 56
Kemal Ishmael: 52
Josh Wilson: 49
Jonathan Babineaux: 46
Malliciah Goodman: 41
Corey Peters: 37
Joplo Bartu: 36
Tyson Jackson: 35
Paul Soliai: 35
Prince Shembo: 23
Cliff Matthews: 23
Dezmen Southward: 16
William Moore: 13
Osi Umenyiora: 9
Jonathan Massaquoi: 7
Ra'Shede Hageman: 3
Javier Arenas: 1

The Falcons continue to do some bizarre things on defense, where a very good Packers offense bludgeoned them for 43 points and boatloads of yards. Jonathan Massaquoi is all but out of the pass rushing rotation despite his quick stretch of success, Hageman's snap count is decreasing despite an injury to Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson's limited effectiveness and Javier Arenas can't get on the field despite Robert McClain's ongoing struggles. None of this worked, and I think you can make a decent case that more of Kemal Ishmael's snaps should have gone to Dezmen Southward, who already has better coverage chops in deep passing situations.

The defense is a muddle, in other words. Nothing Mike Nolan tries seems to work, but the persistent insistence on giving the lion's share of snaps to unproductive veterans at the expense of lesser-known quantities certainly isn't helping. I'm not guaranteeing those players would be better, necessarily, but when the failures are already obvious, you try something different.

http://www.thefalcoholic.com/2014/12/9/7360627/falcons-vs-packers-week-14-snap-counts

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Our scheme and use of defensive personnel is an utter shambles - the worst I've seen in 30 years. It has all come about since we brought in Nolan. We weren't a great team before, but at least when BVG was here we were clearly a 4-3 team and all of our personnel additions were decent scheme fits and utilised correctly.

Why we didn't stick to a 4-3, or ditch all of the 4-3 specific guys and build a conventional 3-4, is totally beyond me. Instead we have a mixture of 3-4 guys and 4-3 guys, playing a nickel/hybrid rubbish.

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Yeah I supported the Nolan hire big time but we haven't chosen a direction in any way whatsoever since he's come here. Instead we've amassed a collection of players, half of which belong in a 3-4 and the other half a 4-3. Our solution to this was "we're going to be multiple".. Well now we run both but do not run either one well, at all

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Defensive snaps against Packers and the Falcoholic's analysis thereon:

Paul Worrilow: 68 (100%)

Desmond Trufant: 68

Dwight Lowery: 68

Robert McClain: 62

Kroy Biermann: 56

Kemal Ishmael: 52

Josh Wilson: 49

Jonathan Babineaux: 46

Malliciah Goodman: 41

Corey Peters: 37

Joplo Bartu: 36

Tyson Jackson: 35

Paul Soliai: 35

Prince Shembo: 23

Cliff Matthews: 23

Dezmen Southward: 16

William Moore: 13

Osi Umenyiora: 9

Jonathan Massaquoi: 7

Ra'Shede Hageman: 3

Javier Arenas: 1

The Falcons continue to do some bizarre things on defense, where a very good Packers offense bludgeoned them for 43 points and boatloads of yards. Jonathan Massaquoi is all but out of the pass rushing rotation despite his quick stretch of success, Hageman's snap count is decreasing despite an injury to Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson's limited effectiveness and Javier Arenas can't get on the field despite Robert McClain's ongoing struggles. None of this worked, and I think you can make a decent case that more of Kemal Ishmael's snaps should have gone to Dezmen Southward, who already has better coverage chops in deep passing situations.

The defense is a muddle, in other words. Nothing Mike Nolan tries seems to work, but the persistent insistence on giving the lion's share of snaps to unproductive veterans at the expense of lesser-known quantities certainly isn't helping. I'm not guaranteeing those players would be better, necessarily, but when the failures are already obvious, you try something different.

http://www.thefalcoholic.com/2014/12/9/7360627/falcons-vs-packers-week-14-snap-counts

This is the crap that I've been talking about. Those three at the bottom should be seeing the lion share of the snaps rushing the passer.
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Defensive snaps against Packers and the Falcoholic's analysis thereon:

Paul Worrilow: 68 (100%)

Desmond Trufant: 68

Dwight Lowery: 68

Robert McClain: 62

Kroy Biermann: 56

Kemal Ishmael: 52

Josh Wilson: 49

Jonathan Babineaux: 46

Malliciah Goodman: 41

Corey Peters: 37

Joplo Bartu: 36

Tyson Jackson: 35

Paul Soliai: 35

Prince Shembo: 23

Cliff Matthews: 23

Dezmen Southward: 16

William Moore: 13

Osi Umenyiora: 9

Jonathan Massaquoi: 7

Ra'Shede Hageman: 3

Javier Arenas: 1

The Falcons continue to do some bizarre things on defense, where a very good Packers offense bludgeoned them for 43 points and boatloads of yards. Jonathan Massaquoi is all but out of the pass rushing rotation despite his quick stretch of success, Hageman's snap count is decreasing despite an injury to Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson's limited effectiveness and Javier Arenas can't get on the field despite Robert McClain's ongoing struggles. None of this worked, and I think you can make a decent case that more of Kemal Ishmael's snaps should have gone to Dezmen Southward, who already has better coverage chops in deep passing situations.

The defense is a muddle, in other words. Nothing Mike Nolan tries seems to work, but the persistent insistence on giving the lion's share of snaps to unproductive veterans at the expense of lesser-known quantities certainly isn't helping. I'm not guaranteeing those players would be better, necessarily, but when the failures are already obvious, you try something different.

http://www.thefalcoholic.com/2014/12/9/7360627/falcons-vs-packers-week-14-snap-counts

This is why Smitty and Nolan HAVE to go.

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This year, I expected us to stink rushing the passer. It seemed a given. What I did expect us to do was slow the run, maybe even stop it some. I took the coaches at their word that stopping the run would help the passing defense. I think the coaches have completely mismanaged what talent we do have, and as a result, we've done neither consistently. I never expected us to be a top 10 defense, but this has been ridiculous. If we get no turnovers, we're toast. See Monday for an example. Sunday? We shall see. Better hope Ben throws us two picks.

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Our scheme and use of defensive personnel is an utter shambles - the worst I've seen in 30 years. It has all come about since we brought in Nolan. We weren't a great team before, but at least when BVG was here we were clearly a 4-3 team and all of our personnel additions were decent scheme fits and utilised correctly.

Why we didn't stick to a 4-3, or ditch all of the 4-3 specific guys and build a conventional 3-4, is totally beyond me. Instead we have a mixture of 3-4 guys and 4-3 guys, playing a nickel/hybrid rubbish.

this has been going on way b4 nolan.. we had a bad defense b4 nolan and we have shown to be stubborn and not change what isnt working b4 nolan, but yet you think its his fault?

Its evident that smitty controls or have a big voice on defense. Not giving young players a chance, only playing vets most snaps too. We gave bvg heII about his coaching style, the very simplistic defense he deployed every game, then smitty said he wantes to be more multiple b4 nolan got here.

This is smittys doing, coordinators change bit the plan doesnt change much..

Nolan didnt just up and forget how to coach ppl, maybe idk just maybe its time to stop blaming the coaches and start putting some blame on the players as well..

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Our scheme and use of defensive personnel is an utter shambles - the worst I've seen in 30 years. It has all come about since we brought in Nolan. We weren't a great team before, but at least when BVG was here we were clearly a 4-3 team and all of our personnel additions were decent scheme fits and utilised correctly.

Why we didn't stick to a 4-3, or ditch all of the 4-3 specific guys and build a conventional 3-4, is totally beyond me. Instead we have a mixture of 3-4 guys and 4-3 guys, playing a nickel/hybrid rubbish.

you must not remember Abraham playing zone?
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This year, I expected us to stink rushing the passer. It seemed a given. What I did expect us to do was slow the run, maybe even stop it some. I took the coaches at their word that stopping the run would help the passing defense. I think the coaches have completely mismanaged what talent we do have, and as a result, we've done neither consistently. I never expected us to be a top 10 defense, but this has been ridiculous. If we get no turnovers, we're toast. See Monday for an example. Sunday? We shall see. Better hope Ben throws us two picks.

Good post. My sentiments also.

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