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The Atlanta Falcons‘ defense has one primary

in News 27.08.2019 03:57
von panxing18 • 160 Beiträge

ATLANTA (AP) — goal entering Sunday’s game against Dallas: Slow down Ezekiel Elliott and make Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott try to beat them with his arm.The Falcons will need all their resources to corral Elliott Calvin Ridley Men Jersey , who leads the NFL with 93 runs of 10 or more yards over the last three years.Atlanta coach Dan Quinn says his defense, which gave up 211 yards rushing in last week’s loss at Cleveland, must maintain gap control against a patient, powerful running back.“He can wait to set up a block and stick his foot in the ground and really explode,” Quinn said. “Oftentimes, you can see him take a handoff and see a read about to happen, then he can change the direction and really explode. I would say the second piece of that is he’s really effective as a pass catcher, too.”Atlanta’s struggling defense was hoping to get a boost from the return of middle linebacker Deion Jones, who hasn’t played since breaking his right foot in the season opener and was ruled out a couple of days after rejoining the active roster. When healthy, Jones is the Falcons’ best defender. He calls the plays, is stout against the run and is fast enough to cover running backs and receivers in coverage.Jones’ injury and season-ending surgeries for starting safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen have been too much for the Falcons to overcome. They rank third-worst in average yards allowed and fourth-worst in scoring average.Elliott is coming off a dazzling performance — 19 runs and six catches for 187 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns — in a win at Philadelphia. But the Cowboys had to stay the course early when Elliott had just seven yards through the team’s first two possessions.“Honestly, at the beginning, it was a little bit tough sledding,” Elliott said. “We made some good adjustments. We have to have the same mentality going into this game.”Dallas’ defense faces a tough challenge in matching up against Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan and star wideout Julio Jones, who has reached 10,000 yards receiving quicker than any player in NFL history.So, there isn’t much wiggle room for either team. Both are 4-5 and trying to stay in the playoff hunt.Here are things to know about the Cowboys-Falcons matchup:THIN D-LINEThe Cowboys started practice this week with five defensive linemen sidelined by injuries: David Irving (ankle), Taco Charlton (shoulder), Maliek Collins (knee), Daniel Ross (calf) and Antwaun Woods (concussion).Collins and Woods both played more than 60 percent of the snaps against Philadelphia. If either can’t play against the Falcons, the depth on the interior line will be tested.Dallas might not be able to use Tyrone Crawford outside as much to ease the load on DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory. Lawrence, who has battled shoulder issues this season and has a history of back trouble, played a season-high 90 percent of the snaps against the Eagles.FIGHTING FOR RESPECTFalcons cornerback Desmond Trufant is enduring his toughest year as a pro with five dropped interceptions, the worst coming on Cincinnati’s game-winning drive in Week 4.Trufant, a first-round pick in 2013, takes the blame for not playing consistently sound fundamentals.“I’m judging myself harder than anybody else can,” he said. “So it is what it is. It’s the league. I’m in the spotlight. I’m earning what I’m earning. It just comes with it. That’s just how it goes. I’m in that position. I’ll just keep working, attack the issues Color Rush Calvin Ridley Jersey , stay humble. I’ve been here before. I’ll just keep working.”COMPARING PICKSThe Cowboys were high on Calvin Ridley going into the draft, having spent plenty of time with the former Alabama receiver and needing a replacement after releasing Dez Bryant, the franchise’s career leader in touchdown catches, in a cost-cutting move in the offseason. Instead, Dallas went with Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch at No. 19. The Falcons chose Ridley seven picks later.Both teams are pleased.Vander Esch set a rookie franchise record with 19 tackles against the Eagles, according to the coaches’ count. Ridley leads all rookies with 500 yards receiving and has been a strong complement to Julio Jones.LOOKING BETTERPrescott was steady in leading 75-yard drives for touchdowns in the fourth quarter last week, each of which answered a TD from the Eagles. It has been an inconsistent season for the 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie the Year as he ranks 33rd in average yards passing, but Dallas coach Jason Garrett says the team ignores outside criticism.“Well, we don’t spend much on that,” Garrett said. “We spend most of our time on ourselves and what we need to do to be better. That’s every one of us. Every coach. Every player. And we love Dak. Dak has done some really great things for our team in the 2½ years that he’s been our starting quarterback. He’s continuing to grow as a player.”STAY STRONGRyan needs the threat of play-action, but that’s hard to maintain when the Falcons’ running game starts strong and fades. It’s been a frustrating trend all season.“We just need to stick with it,” he said. “Last week, we just played from behind most of the third and fourth quarter, which makes it difficult to run the football. I thought that we had our opportunities. We did some nice things in the run game last week, so staying in front of the chains and staying ahead and the score is key to keeping our run game rolling.” The Falcons are way past the point where winning leads to any meaningful outcomes from a win/loss perspective or in the sense of actually competing for the playoffs, and they only hurt their draft stock with victories. But with a pretty easy slate at the end of the year and the pressure off, the Falcons have been absolutely cruising these last two weeks, and they appear to be enjoying themselves.Again, the implications of this aren’t real clear, except on the draft front. The Falcons may still wind up with a top ten pick—they have #10 right now—but they certainly did their damage to their draft stock by winning. They also embarrassed an (admittedly banged up) division rival at home, picked up multiple sacks and had the offense humming again in this one, leading to one of their better wins of the season. How do you balance your fear over the Falcons potentially missing out on an elite player with the excitement that comes from, you know, watching your favorite Falcons team win?Your answer will vary, but at least for one day, I was just genuinely happy to see this team string together a couple of victories and look strong doing it. My greatest fear is that Atlanta is going to walk into this offseason thinking they don’t need to make changes and hard choices because they got it going late, but based on the humiliations they suffered earlier this season, I genuinely can’t imagine that happening. They’re at least getting a look at some of their better players making plays Calvin Ridley Jersey Boys , and beginning to sort out where they can make improvements. But also, they won, and I think to a man the Falcons will tell you that means a lot inside the building.And hell, it’s encouraging to see so much from Grady Jarrett and Jack Crawford, to say nothing of Takk McKinley. It’s great to be reminded of what this offense looks like with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu all rolling, and with Brian Hill as your #3 running back next year. It’s nice to see the defense doing good things and the offense doing solid things because it’s a reminder that this team doesn’t need an atom bomb to be relevant again, even if every draft pick and dollar needs to be wisely spent to get them into better shape. While I always am fond of saying that the Falcons would never quit and never tank, it’s nice to be reminded that they won’t, especially after five weeks of stinking garbage. I don’t know if they can and will beat the Buccaneers, potentially sealing the fates of Ron Rivera and Dirk Koetter in back-to-back weeks, but I do know these Falcons can win some hearts and minds if they exit this season at 7-9 with three quality games in a row and land a killer player with, say, the #13 pick. Otherwise, they’ll probably just be asked where these kinds of efforts were when the team needed them most, and they’ll be confronting an offseason that is no less pivotal and fraught today than it was two weeks ago. The Falcons are taking baby steps, however inconsequential, toward a legitimate fix. There are miles to go before they truly get there. On to the full recap. The Good Matt Ryan had one sailed throw to Julio Jones, but otherwise was sharp throughout this one, finding receiving options seemingly at will. He hit Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley for touchdowns, locating all three of his top receivers and overcoming a slow stretch for the offense to pull ahead. Ryan’s putting together a season that compares very favorably to his 2016 MVP campaign, and while he won’t get the award this year, we’re clearly entered the best epoch of his career. I hope we don’t leave it anytime soon.Julio has a sore hip? No big deal. He’ll still manage a touchdown, his seventh of the season, and draw the kind of attention that allows Ridley and Sanu to operate with such impunity.And those two did just that. Sanu went for 81 yards and a touchdown on five grabs, including a beautiful 44 yarder, and Ridley added 90 yards and a touchdown on three receptions Cheap Calvin Ridley Jersey , including that third quarter-opening 75 yard score. This was may 75% of Julio, maybe less, and for much of the game it was just the Brian Hill show on the ground. Yet the Falcons still had a fine day through the air, which is a testament to this offense.The ground game was very solid, thanks in part to rock solid blocking up front. Ty Sambrailo continues to shine as a run blocker and Wes Schweitzer has been settling back in, and the result was that Tevin Coleman managed 51 yards on 10 carries before exiting with an injury. Hill fumbled and trash talked his way into some cringe-worthy moments, but he also went off for 115 yards on eight carries against a very solid Carolina front, showing physicality and burst along the way. The Falcons are in absurdly great shape at running back even if they lose Coleman if they have a healthy Devonta Freeman, Ito Smith, and anything like the Hill we saw on Sunday. Takkarist McKinley has been trying to get back on track for weeks, making plays here and there, but he really put it together against the punchless Panthers. He only had a half sack, but he was on Taylor Heinicke constantly and hammered the poor backup quarterback. Jack Crawford and Grady Jarrett have been one hell of a duo for these Falcons, even if the rest of the defense has been pretty disappointing. Jarrett managed a sack and a forced fumble in this one, while Crawford got a sack and a nice interception off a Damontae Kazee tip earlier in the game to stop a Panthers scoring drive cold. Jarrett has a team-leading seven sacks, Crawford has six, and a draft addition and modest improvement from Deadrin Senat would give them a pretty fearsome group at the position in 2019.Bruce Irvin looks like a man who wants to come back to Atlanta, too. He’s up to 3.5 sacks as a Falcon, with the latest coming on a fourth down against an overmatched Taylor Heinicke, and he’s clearly enjoying the ride. Brooks Reed and Derrick Shelby may both be gone, and it would be awfully nice to keep a pass rusher with Irvin’s history of production around. Another solid week for Steven Means, while we’re at it, and he should be in the running to be a low-cost Shelby replacement. Another Brian Poole pick as he comes on hot toward the end of the season. He’s a restricted free agent and will be back, I’m pretty certain, though I have no idea what his role in 2019 is going to look like. His physicality and ballhawking ability make him a mighty useful reserve at worst. Matt Bosher has been quietly pulling out of the mediocrity he was mired in earlier in the year, but it’s always been the big hits that made him a fan favorite. He added one to the highlight reel on Sunday, and it might’ve been his definitive moment, as he absolutely upended a charging Kenjon Barner and then flexed over him. Bosher’s at worst a solid punter and Custom Calvin Ridley Jersey , as Barner himself put it, a killer when it comes to making a big special teams tackle. The Ugly In a different game, the Falcons would have cost themselves dearly with bad penalties (Desmond Trufant), unforced turnovers (Hill), and costly drops (Ridley, again). Happily those mistakes were not costly, but it’s a reminder that the Falcons are still prone to exhausting bouts of undisciplined play that put them in very bad spots. Too many missed connections today, and with the exception of Ryan’s throw to a gimpy Julio, it was nice defensive play or receiver error that caused them. The Falcons tried to throw to promising rookie Russell Gage early but abandoned that after Gage couldn’t reel in a pair of targets, and Marvin Hall, Hill, and Coleman all picked up targets and had nothing to show for them. It’ll get lost in what was a pretty solid win overall, but the Falcons consistently allowed the likes of Christian McCaffrey and Ian Thomas to slip by them. McCaffrey had little trouble putting up positive yardage on every play, and considering that Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen are not at all good, they had solid enough games. The Falcons were trying to bend and not break against this Carolina team, but I would have been very interested to see what might have happened if they pinned their ears back from very early on and went after an inexperienced quarterback instead of just trying to keep a bad offense in front of them. In their (very weak) defense, McCaffrey is tough. Special teams will come under the microscope this offseason, I suspect, because of Keith Armstrong’s unit remaining unable to put even a halfway decent return game out there. They also let Barner eat them up a bit (minus that Bosher hit). I don’t think Armstrong is in any real danger, but I would love to see this team put a weapon out there on returns in 2019, instead of muddling along with, say, Justin Hardy. The WrapupGame MVPGive this one to Jack Crawford and Grady Jarrett, who sowed terror and confusion from the middle of this defensive line and either forced or contributed to multiple turnovers along the way.One TakeawayThis maddening, excruciating season may not end with the Falcons playing garbage football, which is something.Next WeekThe final game of the season, against a dispirited Buccaneers squad that’s probably on the cusp of cutting ties with Dirk Koetter. Hooray!Final WordOnemoreweek.

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