A Falcons’ pass rush? We actually saw signs of one Sunday

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, front, fumbles the ball as Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Kroy Biermann makes the hit during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The best part of the Atlanta Falcons’ victory in the Meadowlands was Julio Jones, duh, but he’s pretty good all the time. The most encouraging part was that the defense, for the second week in a row, made the stop to seal the victory. The one against Philadelphia bore a bit of an asterisk — Ricardo Allen’s interception came off a pass the Eagles’ Jordan Matthews muffed — but what happened at the end in Jersey was coverage and, yes, pressure.

Eli Manning, who has been a big-game quarterback in his career, had 1:14 and one timeout with which to work. Plenty of time. He didn’t complete a pass. Yes, Robert Alford was flagged for a 30-yard interference penalty — seemed iffy to me, by the way — but the Falcons brought just enough heat to discombobulate the younger Manning.

He threw too high for Odell Beckham Jr., who can really jump, and for tight end Larry Donnell, who’s 6-foot-6. He threw too low for Preston Parker, who had been dropping everything anyway and who has since been released. Linebacker O’Brien Schofield forced Manning to throw the ball away on third-and-10 by slamming into his legs. In a league where big-time quarterbacks take their teams the length of the field to win as a matter of routine, the Falcons didn’t let that happen.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, front, fumbles the ball as Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Kroy Biermann makes the hit during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The play that changed the game. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

If we recall, the first sign of the end for Mike Smith came in Week 3 of the 2013 season, when Ryan Tannehill led the Dolphins 75 yards to game-winning touchdown. Then, two weeks later, Geno Smith drove the Jets to the winning field goal as time expired. After the Jets’ loss, the Falcons were 1-4 and finished for the season and nothing for Smith would ever be good again.

Both the Eagles and the Giants had a chance to win at the end; neither came close. Some of this has to do with Dan Quinn’s defense schemes, surely. Some has to do with the presence of Vic Beasley Jr., who had a fourth-quarter sack that forced a fumble that became a weird Giants first down. Whatever the cause, the visitors pitched a fourth-quarter shutout. The Giants a chance to ice the game inside the final five minutes and went three-and-out. (That was the series when Manning took a delay-of-game penalty before third-and-seven and threw short on third-and-12.)

For nearly three quarters Sunday, the Falcons’ new-look pass rush looked much like the pass rush of old, meaning non-existent. It was very nearly 27-10, over and out, until Kroy Biermann ran down Manning from behind and forced the game-changing fumble, but that wasn’t so much pressure as it was Manning holding the ball too long. Even so, the game changed then. The Falcons would score two touchdowns. The Giants would manage four more first downs, one by penalty, another on a fumble.

Bill Walsh used to say that the key to NFL football was a pass rush late in games. It took a while for the Falcons’ rush to show itself, and when it did it wasn’t like some great wave. But it was enough to rattle a veteran quarterback and win a coin-flip game on the road. If you’re seeking reasons to believe in this team, that fourth-quarter stirring was a most welcome sight.

Reader Comments 0

41 comments
GWJ0525
GWJ0525

The pass rush does look improved. No one expects a sack every play, but the QB's have to be rushed and hurried to help the secondary otherwise it looks like that playoff game with Green Bay a few years ago where Rogers looked like a cop directing traffic he had so much time to throw. That is what we have to avoid to give us a chance to win as in that game it didn't matter if we had a decent offense or not.

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

The defense made a play, but if the offense doesn't score twice it's a mute point. I just hope in the course of the season they compliment each other.

Mewslim
Mewslim

Beasly was clearly held on a couple of plays in the 4th quarter.  I wonder if the Falcons will have the league review the 'no calls'.  They were pretty blatant.

candlin14
candlin14

Also, I never heard one question to Dan Quinn regarding the Fumble / Forward pass that he didn't challenge. I would love to know his thoughts on that play.

candlin14
candlin14

I still think we are running to much Zone coverage. We only have two sacks on the year. Not that impressive. I do agree that our defense looks much improved but the missed tackle by Willie Mo definitely stands out to me. That is a play that 100% has to be made. A missed tackle on third down to force a punt. Instead they move the chains and one or two plays later they connect on a 60 yard TD. 


After watching the Jets last night , I really really like how Bowles blitzes. He shoots LB's up the A and B gap sometimes drops a D Lineman into coverage, blitzes corners, he is very creative with his Blitz packages. I don't see much of that with Quinn. We are relying on a four man rush most of the time and drop everyone else into coverage. On third and long especially, lets bring the house... Thats all I am asking for! More creative blitz packages and more blitzes, PERIOD... 

mikecg09
mikecg09

@candlin14 You can not blitz all the time like the jets did last night against good teams with good olinemen and a good QB. They will pick you apart all day. Just like Mike Nolan couldn't get any pressure with his front four so he blitzed a lot and it resulted in Big plays. I like that Quinn is trying to get results from his front four. We will need our front four to create pressure so keep with it until they learn to play together and constantly get pressure to the qb. I am seeing maturation with Vic. Schofield is getting pressure every week. We need better play from our inside guys in the pass game. They are doing great against the run. It was nice to see Clayborn get three hits against ELi. Sometimes just getting hits on the QB effects the way they throw. It definitely affected ELI on that last drive. He was overthrowing everyone trying to get those passes off. It will take time but you HAVE TO get solid pass rushing from your front four to have any success against Great teams. 


Try and blitz Rodgers and Tom all the time like the jets did last night and it will not work. They will change the play at the line and hard count you to death. I love what quinn is doing. My only problem i see with the defense is when they play zone, the dont have good outside LB play to cover the underneath comeback routes. They are going to have to work in practice on their speed with getting out there to the flats. They will be much better when they can get that right. It wasnt alford getting burnt all day, he was playing his zone. Yes he could be a little guicker to the come back route but he is playing deep zone on most of those plays. He cant let anyone get over the top.

Falcons63
Falcons63

@mikecg09 @candlin14  Quinn may change in Atlanta, but prior to this he has never been a big blitz guy.  Mikecg is right.  You blitz a lot and eventually you will get burned.  Right now Bowles is ahead of the offenses he's facing because being a new coach, no one is sure what his defensive tendencies will be.  Give it a couple of games and those same blitzes may not be so effective. 

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

@candlin14 They have a front seven that's one of the best in the league. Also two corners that are great, to me it's two totally different defenses with different personel and philosophy. The Falcons want to keep everything in front of them, give up the short pass and tackle well. But the Jet's must score more if they want to compete with the Patriots. They don't say Revis Island for nothing one side of the field is his. So they can afford to bring the house. the Falcons can't do that.

flagarantfoul
flagarantfoul

@Falcons63 @mikecg09 @candlin14 Who says you have to blitz all the time. It's about switching things up. Starting a game with a few to catch them off guard and then switching back would work.

ZakMan
ZakMan

The refs really let the Giants offensive line get away with multiple major holding violations.  I watched some of those plays several times on my DVR and I was completely shocked that they weren't called considering how blatant they were.


Chris Williams
Chris Williams

@ZakMan I watched Beasley get held two plays in a row and on the next series he was face-masked. All no calls, seems like since he's a rookie the refs are looking the other way. If not for all of that I wonder how many sacks he would have had on Eli.

David McCallum
David McCallum

@Chris Williams @ZakMan Speaking of O Lines, the Cowboys have one of the best in the league. Beasley is really getting a nice education which will only help him as he moves forward in his development. Not saying that Flowers is a great lineman, because he's clearly not. Next up, Tyrone Smith of the Cowboys. 

Delbert_D
Delbert_D

Making the QB hold on to the ball too long is good, too. Bierman is okay as a situational player and backup. I like guys like that on the team, and we have more of them this year.

BULLSEYE57
BULLSEYE57

Which of the five Brown's players would we take now for Julio?

MaybeMaybeNot
MaybeMaybeNot

@BULLSEYE57 We would have had draft picks that Dummytroff would have used on some 320 offensive tackle that would be have been released a year later.  Better to trade for a sure thing than let Dummytroff have his say in draft picks. 

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

I saw at least 4 missed holding penalties on Flowers in this game... Beasley should start getting more calls as the season progresses

LarvellBlanks
LarvellBlanks

"Kroy Biermann ran down Manning from behind and forced the game-changing fumble"


Wait, that can't be right.  I watched ESPN, and they didn't mention anything about Biermann  forcing a fumble -- they just talked about how Eli made a mistake by not finding an open receiver.  Come to think about it, I don't recall them mentioning the Falcons at all.

David McCallum
David McCallum

@LarvellBlanks I agree with you regarding the ESPN coverage. I get tired of those guys showing blatant bases in their coverage. I'm not one to harp on that kind stuff but I really don't like it because it discredits the other team. The same with this week.  One would think the cowboys are playing themselves. 

candlin14
candlin14

@LarvellBlanks


Thats because Atlanta is not an ESPN paid city like New York, Dallas, Chicago, Boston, or LA... ESPN is the worst bunch of Liberal clowns. I can't watch ESPN more then 5 minutes. There love for Brady, Rodgers, Manning, and Luck drive me crazy... 


The one thing we never get calls on is Push Offs from receivers. Beckham extended his arm and shoved Alford on a couple come back routes but poor Alford never gets a break.

Falcons63
Falcons63

Not at all saying Beasley is going to be the NFL sack leader, but his presence absolutely had an impact on the game.  The Giants looked to be very concerned about the Beasley/Flowers matchup.  If you look back at the game you will see the Giants used the TE to chip Beasley a lot.  Not really what an OC wants to have to do for his LT, who should be his best pass protector. . In a normal power run formation with a right handed QB the percentages say you are going to run more behind the strongside of the offense. This would be your RT(Generally the best run blocker) and TE.  With your TE having to help your LT your game plan has been impacted.


Beasley got a sack in the 4th, but would have had another if not for a holding penalty on Flowers.  It may be the Falcon fan showing in me but I thought they could have called holding on Flowers and his backup a couple of other times.  As far as Beirmann's sack he was lined up at LDE against RT Marshall Newhouse.  An OC would say Manning held the ball to long.  A DC would call it an effort sack.  He was initially blocked, but didn't give up on the play.   It's all a matter of perspective.

GWJ0525
GWJ0525

A lot of NFL games come down to one or two big plays that can be the difference in winning or losing. This was one of those and the play Kroy made changed the game plain and simple. Julio was great and all over the field, but that one play was the key that changed everything.

candlin14
candlin14

@hardworkinman @GWJ0525


If we lost the game the play that would have changed the game would have been Quinn not challenging the forward pass / fumble in the fourth qtr. Quinn is 2-0 but I wont let him off that easy. He needs to throw the red flag, plain and simple.

hardworkinman
hardworkinman

@GWJ0525 On the flip side, William Moore missed a key third down tackle before the long TD catch and run by Beckham. If Biermann doesn't knock the ball loose, Moore's poor tackling is probably the play that changed the game for the Giants. Fortunately, Biermann did make the play and the Falcons came back to win. So yes, one play can, and often does, change a game.

BLowE12
BLowE12

@candlin14 Watching that play, there wasn't any conclusive information to overturn that play. It more than likely would have stood and we lose a team out.

mark513
mark513

Defense is playing faster under Quinn,  unlike Nolan who tried to cover up personnel deficiencies with scheme, Quinn believe in always being on the attack. Defense still has holes but at least they are playing with an aggressive attacking personality. They will give up yards and points but they will make more plays in crucial times and by mid-season will be a much better defense than the past 7 years! 

JackClemens
JackClemens

Because he is the winningest coach in team history, and a good dude, I'm sad for the way Smitty's tenure ended. But, I hope he's having a nice life wherever he is and whatever he's doing. Congratulations to Coach Quinn.

BLowE12
BLowE12

@JackClemens He made a lot of money so I am sure he is enjoying his break from coaching. Hard for me to feel sorry for someone making that much as even a coach makes.

Wheaton96
Wheaton96

We were dead and gone.  Great win.

TrueFan1
TrueFan1

Who dat with the shoulder injury??

Rory_Bellows
Rory_Bellows

Really? One big play was all. That's not a harbinger for other teams to be concerned. 


If you don't have anything to write about, don't write. Stop trying to make stuff up. 

RangeRover
RangeRover

@Rory_Bellows

Please tell the negative committee which meets inside your head to sit down and shut up. 

Rory_Bellows
Rory_Bellows

@RangeRover @Rory_Bellows What's negative about the truth? I was pointing out Bradley's hyperbole in this blog more than the lack of a pass rush. 


TRY paying attention to my rhetoric and less to the negative committee in your skull.