Packers head coach Mike McCarthy knows at least one thing for sure before his team plays Atlanta Sunday night in Mercedes-Benz Stadium: the Falcons are going to be flying around on defense.
“They have excellent team speed,” McCarthy said on a Wednesday teleconference with Atlanta media. “Their linebackers are probably as fast a group as you’ll see through the league.”
And then there’s 2016 NFL sack leader Vic Beasley Jr. coming off the end, too.
Falcons' Vic Beasley showing that speed. Climbs the tackle only to collapse middle once Glennon vacates pic.twitter.com/PsSVBayr7w— Jack Wepfer (@JackDW44) September 13, 2017
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff have placed a premium on speed in building this roster over the past three offseason, and Quinn frequently likes to talk about his team playing, “fast and physical.”
Linebackers Deion Jones, De’Vondre Campbell and rookie Duke Riley all fit the bill, as do edge rushers Beasley, Brooks Reed and rookie Takk McKinley. They’ll be busy chasing Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the offense of Green Bay (1-0).
Atlanta (1-0) has serious quicks in the secondary, too, especially in cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford.
“They have excellent tempo and I think their backfield is playing the best I’ve seen in a few years,” said McCarthy, whose team lost twice to the Falcons last season, 33-32 in the Georgia Dome on Oct. 30, and again in the final game in the Dome when Atlanta dominated in the NFC Championship Game, 44-21. “The speed is very apparent, especially on turf at home so that’s what we’re preparing for.”