In an off-season interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta Falcons’ defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder admitted that one of his primary areas of concern was his unit’s performance defending against the pass. After a little investigative research by yours truly, one can certainly appreciate his concern. Check out these staggeringly poor numbers against the pass from a year ago.
1. 22nd in 3rd down conversions, but almost 70% of those came via the pass.
2. 23rd in total pass yards allowed.
3. 14th in defensive yards per attempt.
4. 15th in sacks.
VanGorder also has gone on record as saying he has concerns with his team’s ability to secure the perimeter around the point of attack. That’s a pretty generic statement, but to translate it into specific terms, he more than likely means that his defensive backs had trouble with both tackling and shedding blocks. And, to what should be noone’s surprise, the stats show the Falcons had some trouble with tackling. In their 2010 playoff loss to Green Bay the Packers had five drives of over 80 yards that resulted in touchdowns. Teams just don’t put together drives like that against a defense with sure-handed tackling . Atlanta’s defense continued to struggle with this alarming trend on Sunday in Chicago, which is something that Andy Reid has surely noted, so expect the Eagles to get the ball to their playmakers out in space.
Look for Marty Mornhinweg to run three-wide sets Sunday night and use Brent Celek in the middle of the field as a safety valve. Also, the Falcons will likely place emphasis on the blitz, so look for LeSean McCoy to stay in on blocks and be utilized in the screen game .
If the Eagles can do this and Vick can get his timing down with Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles are going to have a big night on offense. It’s important for the Eagles to get out to a quick start to neutralize the crowd. Philadelphia certainly struggled early on in a very noisy Edward Jones Dome last Sunday, so it’s important those mistakes are eliminated against a much more difficult opponent.
(Author’s note: Credit to FootballOutsiders.com and AdvancedNFLstats.com for statistical research tools)