While the Atlanta Falcons‘ offense continues to struggle in the red zone, getting only one touchdown in six red zone trips against the New England Patriots, the defense hasn’t fared any better as they surrendered three plays of 40-plus yards to Tom Brady, making him almost forget how bad his team’s offense has been in the past three games.
The one that proved to change the momentum of the game entirely and sealed the game for the Patriots was the 47-yard explosive run by LeGarrette Blount as he danced his way to the Falcons’ end zone for a decisive touchdown that allowed the Minutemen to escape Atlanta with the “W”.
In a year where the Falcons’ defense was supposed to make huge strides as they are probably the most athletic defense coach Mike Smith has had since his arrival in Atlanta, they have made a habit to give up big plays, In fact, the Falcons’ defenders seemed to be doing a lot more running than actual defending, as Brady and the Patriots had their best offensive showing so far in 2013.
The 1-3 Falcons have surrendered with open arms on at least one big play in every single game thus far, which began against the New Orleans Saints. Drew Brees‘ pass to receiver Kenny Stills went on to be a 67-yard catch and run as the Falcons lost that game 23-17. Against the St. Louis Rams, the Falcons’ porous secondary allowed Sam Bradford to hook up with Chris Givens with a 47-yard completion.
Down south in Miami, the Falcons’ defense seemed to be busy gazing on the beach as they allowed Lamar Miller to break off a 49-yard run, which led to a touchdown.
Although the Falcons have been playing excellent run defense this year as they rank sixth in the league by giving up only 92.3 rushing yards per game, their run defense was shattered when Blount broke away from containment in a crucial moment of the game.
The Falcons’ defense needs to be fixed, but it will be very difficult for defensive coordinator Mike Nolan as he is without the teams’ top linebacker in Sean Weatherspoon, top cover corner in Asante Samuel and one of their better players in Kroy Biermann.
The only thing going for them is the fact that they will face a rookie quarterback in Geno Smith, who has been a turnover machine so far early in his career. The Falcons are hoping that they can generate some takeaways and improve their defense, and pray that they can do just enough until key players return to the team healthy.
Nonetheless, opponents have been “Makin’ it Rain” on the Falcons’ defense so far, and it will be up to them to rectify their mistakes and earn back a little bit of respect one game at a time.