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No Super Bowl Slump For Falcons’ D

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No Super Bowl Slump For Falcons’ D

Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports

Preseason Story So Far

Team owner Arthur Blank claims that the Falcons now have the fastest defense in the NFL. And while team partisans often offer some loopy opinions (see Clinton Portis' appraisal of the Washington backfield on the last slide), Blank may be onto something. The youthful Falcons starters swarmed all over the Steelers on Sunday and looked good against the Dolphins in the preseason opener until second-half silly time.

Blank wants to see his Falcons play "a full four quarters now in the Super Bowl," because he's seen what happens when they settle for three-and-a-half. Will he get his wish?

Players to Watch

Takkarist McKinley had an uneventful NFL debut Sunday, though if you watched closely, you saw him bull-rush a left tackle on one play and flush Joshua Dobbs from the pocket on another. Look for McKinley to be eased into a pass-rush rotation that is suddenly deep behind Vic Beasley, with Brooks Reed, Courtney Upshaw and others looking healthy and effective right now.

Grady Jarrett and Dontari Poe should be a nasty defensive tackle tandem, with Poe munching on double-teams while Jarrett disrupts the backfield (as he did several times against the Steelers).

De'Vondre Campbell, now the strong-side linebacker, looked comfortable in the role against the Dolphins. He also made a big play against the Steelers, delivering a big hit and forcing a fumble on a Martavis Bryant end-around.

The Falcons secondary is difficult to evaluate, because the team hasn't faced a starting quarterback yet. Jalen Collins gave up a 99-yard touchdown against the Dolphins but is not in the team's plans. Fifth-round pick Damontae Kazee, one of those young speedsters Blank is raving about, is being groomed as a designated nickel defender and flashed some potential against the Steelers.

The Falcons special teams bears monitoring. The Steelers blocked one punt and nearly blocked a second. Falcons return men fumbled twice against the Dolphins. It's probably nothing, but the Falcons need to mind the details after the way last season ended.

Bottom Line

If you are checking the Falcons' vital signs for evidence of an impending Super Bowl slump, you won't find them on defense. This is a deep, rapidly improving and (yes) lightning-fast unit. It's too early to tell if the Falcons defense will let the boss and the fans down in January or February. It will have no problem doing the job in September.



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I've noticed a lot of good things with the defense, but one thing that stands out now more so than any year that I've watched the Falcons and that is the speed and intensity that they play with. I really like what I see these days from the D.

Edited by 4dabirds
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This defense (including last year) can't be judged purely on numbers. I would be willing to bet that we spent more time in prevent last year than anyone else in the league. Even if our formation wasn't technically "prevent," when you have a 3 score lead, you don't press the same way. You don't send extra guys to the QB. You rush 4, drop your safeties and give up the underneath completions.

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I believe that is was the first run for the Steelers and the left side of the line opened up but Duke closed so quickly and made the tackle for a very short gain. I haven't seen a Falcons LB close that quickly in a very long time

Actually it was the first play of the Steelers second drive.

Edited by Flyin' In DC
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