Ok the news people caught wind, The Falcons' defense still isn't of Super caliber - Printable Version
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Ok the news people caught wind, The Falcons' defense still isn't of Super caliber - nativefalcon - 01-21-2013 11:18 PM
Mark Bradley, must be snooping around here, he caught wind of it.
Falcons' defense still isn't of Super caliber
By Mark Bradley- AJC
FLOWERY BRANCH -- Jan. 3, 2009: The Falcons lose 30-24 in a wild-card game at Arizona, the decisive play being the Cardinals’ conversion on third-and-16. General manager Thomas Dimitroff leaves the field telling himself his defense must get stronger, faster, better. When the next season begins the Falcons will have five new defensive starters.
Jan. 20, 2013: The Falcons blow a 17-point lead in the NFC championship game a week after blowing a 20-point lead in the divisional round. Over two postseason second halves in the span of eight days, the Falcons are outscored 42-10, and the wonder isn’t that they lost one of the games – the wonder is that they won one.
Reality Check No. 1: The Falcons’ defense of 2008, largely inherited by then-newcomers Dimitroff and Mike Smith, ranked 24th in the NFL; the Falcons’ defense of 2012, the one this administration has had five drafts and five offseasons to build, ranked 24th in the NFL.
Stipulation: Had the Falcons scored a touchdown on their final drive Sunday, we wouldn’t be quibbling about the defense (or anything) today; we’d be making travel plans for New Orleans. But they didn’t, and we aren’t, and that’s the nature of their cruel business. Winners laugh and pack bags; losers go home and try to figure out how to win one more game.
The Falcons’ offense was good enough to win a Super Bowl. The Falcons’ defense was good enough to get them to 13-3. That’s a vast difference. This team reached the NFC title game – and took a 17-0 lead therein – because of that raging passing game. This team squandered the 17-point (like the 20-point lead before it) because its defense could not override a basic failing: For all Dimitroff’s drafting, it’s still short of personnel.
There’s no real pass rusher beyond John Abraham, who’s 34 and who hurt an ankle in the meaningless regular-season finale against Tampa Bay. There’s no great run-stuffer, no shutdown cornerback. (As opposed to make-the-occasional-play cornerback.) This defense seemed more resourceful under new coordinator Mike Nolan than it had under Brian VanGorder, but here’s where “seemed” is revealed as a wobbly word.
Reality Check No. 2: In 2011, the final season under VanGorder, the Falcons’ defense ranked 12th overall – 20th against the pass, sixth against the run. In 2012, the first season under Nolan, this defense ranked 24th overall – 23rd against the pass, 21st against the run.
Reality Check No. 3: In five seasons under Dimitroff and Smith (who’s a former defensive coordinator), the Falcons’ defense has ranked 24th, 21st, 16th, 12th and 24th among NFL teams. This has enabled them to go 56-24 in the regular season, which is outstanding. It has also yielded a postseason record of 1-4, which is not.
Reality Check No. 4: The Falcons just lost a playoff game in which their offense amassed 477 yards, one week after winning a playoff game in which their defense surrendered 491 yards.
Reality Check No. 5: A week after seeing the opposing tight end catch eight passes for 142 yards, the Falcons watched the opposing tight end catch five passes for 106 yards.
Conclusion: The Falcons have gone as far as they have not because of their defense but in spite of it. Their success – five consecutive winning seasons, four playoff appearances – has been largely predicated on the offense doing something special at the end, and the offense had that chance again Sunday. But not every final fling is destined to succeed, and when one finally fails we need ask: How does a home team lose on a day when its offense scores 24 first-half points?
By watching its defense force punts on the game’s first two series and not again until 13 seconds remained. After falling behind 17-0, San Francisco went: Touchdown, touchdown, end of half, touchdown, missed field goal, fumble at the 1, touchdown.
Said Smith, asked Monday if he felt this defense was good enough to win a championship: "I thought Mike Nolan and his staff did a very good job. But I'm not going to answer 'yes' or 'no'."
The Falcons beat three Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks here this season, intercepting 10 passes by Drew Brees and the Mannings in those two games. In the playoffs they faced Russell Wilson, a rookie, and Colin Kaepernick, a second-year man making his ninth pro start. They intercepted one postseason pass, and that was by Julio Jones, who mostly plays offense, on the final throw of the divisional playoff.
Moral of our story: If these Falcons couldn’t take the ball away – they were seventh in the NFL in turnover margin – they couldn’t stop anybody. They still weren’t big enough, fast enough, good enough.
Remedy: There’s the rub. It’s not easy to find true pass rushers or shutdown corners. If it were, Dimitroff would have found them by now. Sean Weatherspoon, the team’s No. 1 pick in 2010, is a difference-maker; Peria Jerry, the No. 1 pick in 2009, has made no difference. Ray Edwards, the free-agent buy of 2011, is gone already. Asante Samuel, the cornerback import of 2012, has been very good; Dunta Robinson, the cornerback import of 2010, has been only OK.
It would nice to say that there’s nothing wrong with this defense that better personnel won’t cure, but that’s true of any defense. Five years later, the issue remains: The Falcons are apt to go only as far as this offense takes them. That offense almost got them to the Super Bowl. Almost, but not quite.
RE: Ok the news people caught wind, The Falcons' defense still isn't of Super caliber - AUTiger7222 - 01-21-2013 11:19 PM
That dummy Pat Y put all the blame for the Falcons losing on Ryan and the offense. But he's a Falcons hater so what he says is void. He called the Falcons win over the Seahawks a total fluke.
RE: Ok the news people caught wind, The Falcons' defense still isn't of Super caliber - nativefalcon - 01-21-2013 11:26 PM
(01-21-2013 11:19 PM)AUTiger7222 Wrote: That dummy Pat Y put all the blame for the Falcons losing on Ryan and the offense. But he's a Falcons hater so what he says is void. He called the Falcons win over the Seahawks a total fluke.
Must be, because wasn't the same game, we watched all season, I ususally am about 50/50 about Mark Bradley, but he nailed it on the head, We regressed from 12th to 24th like we were in the beginning. Ughh. Can't believe Van Gorder was better, people said, that we had a easy schedule this year, last year had to be real easy than.
TD and Blank, better break out the checkbook after the draft.
RE: Ok the news people caught wind, The Falcons' defense still isn't of Super caliber - juraitwaluzka - 01-22-2013 12:01 AM
Can't really argue with any of that.
RE: Ok the news people caught wind, The Falcons' defense still isn't of Super caliber - ggp - 01-22-2013 12:25 AM
No team can claim stellar play on both sides of the ball. While it is true that our defense is not SB caliber, it is not far from that mark. We need to add a run stuffing NT that can plug the middle of the line. In doing so, our LB's will be able to roam and make plays.
TD can draft such a NT this year. He can also add some athletic talent to the defense that will yield rapid results. This team is not far from the mark.
While the offense has performed well, it does not produce in tough short yardage situations. Those situations come up when a yard is needed for a first down and when we are backed up close to our own goal line. Keeping the ball in our hands is the best sort of defense. All TD has to do is add a RG that can move defenders.
Re: Ok the news people caught wind, The Falcons' defense still isn't of Super caliber - juraitwaluzka - 01-22-2013 01:13 AM
Just dreaming but could you imagine Barry Sanders in this offense.
RE: Ok the news people caught wind, The Falcons' defense still isn't of Super caliber - AUTiger7222 - 01-22-2013 01:41 AM
(01-22-2013 01:13 AM)juraitwaluzka Wrote: Just dreaming but could you imagine Barry Sanders in this offense.
That's the kind of running back we need. Someone that doesn't need a big fullback making holes to pick up yards. And someone that can also be a threat outta the backfield.
RE: Ok the news people caught wind, The Falcons' defense still isn't of Super caliber - phocis850 - 01-22-2013 03:11 AM
Things may have been different if Grimes was not on IR.
RE: Ok the news people caught wind, The Falcons' defense still isn't of Super caliber - ViperXX79 - 01-22-2013 04:44 AM
Stats don't tell the entire story and of course BVG wasn't better. He had the benefit of a healthy Grimes and a MLB that wasn't completely useless. Nolan had a banged up secondary and a ghost at MLB. We saw great things from our defense and what Nolan wants to do in the future. He just needs the right personel so it's more consistent. Any idiot can play it safe with prevent D. I want a defense that can take the ball away and that's what we're moving towards. Busted coverages are a huge problem and that comes from being in a new system that was a little more difficult to pick up and not having the best fits for the system.
RE: Ok the news people caught wind, The Falcons' defense still isn't of Super caliber - swanlee - 01-22-2013 08:35 AM
I think Nolan schemed well this year and will improve the D going forward. We made alot of Future HOF QB's look stupid this year. We just had some bad D play in the second half of both of our Playoff games. Tackling is an issue but at least we did better on 3rd down and were 5th in scoring.
I always think it is stupid that Defensive stats don't put more importance on points allowed. Who cares how mnay yards you give up if the other team is not scoring. We did alot better at that this years and did very good in not allowing passing TD's.