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Atlanta Falcons Blog

Atlanta Falcons blog by D. Orlando Ledbetter, the pro football and Atlanta Falcons reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Cover 9@9: Falcons must improve 29th ranked pass defense

1. SECONDARY IMPROVEMENT PLAN: The Falcons have some time to get their secondary together.

They are set to face Dallas’ Brandon Weeden, Houston’s Ryan Mallett and Washington’s Kirk Cousins and possibly New Orleans' Luke McCown over the next four games.

After that murderer's row of quarterbacks, the Falcons will face rookies Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. The next veteran first-string quarterback they play could be San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick on Nov. 8.

After facing Philadelphia’s Sam Bradford and New York’s Eli Manning, the pass defense is ranked 29th in the league (313.5 yards per game). The Falcons are ninth in run defense (80 yards per game).

Quinn had an opportunity to move left cornerback Desmond Trufant on to Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., but he elected to play “sides.” That’s when the player take his side of the field and stays there, normally in a zone scheme.

So, the Falcons decided to live with Beckham, who had seven catches for 146 yards, doing damage.

“I certainly wasn’t satisfied with the results, let’s make that part clear,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “I thought Odell played a terrific game. Some of the time that we played in our three deep we have underneath help, so for all the catches that went to his side in our system where we play, they’re a huge part of how we play our style.”

Quinn didn’t want to single out right cornerback Robert Alford, who appeared to be targeted by the Giants.

“To say it was on the one guy for every catch would be inaccurate in this case,” Quinn said. “At times, we’ll look at that to see if we’re going to feature more man-to-man or zone in the game. In this game, we just happened to feature more zone.”

However, on Beckham’s 67-yard touchdown play, it was pretty clear that Alford was in coverage and free safety Ricardo Allen missed the tackle.

Trufant is the 11th rated cornerback by Nickel back Phillip Adams is ranked 68th and Alford is 75th.

It will be interesting to see if the Falcons try to get second-round pick Jalen Collins more action against the string of less-than-stellar signal callers.

2. MISSED TACKLES: The Falcons missed nine or 10 tackles against the Giants and missed nine against the Eagles, according to Quinn.

The Falcons have missed 16 tackles according to Here’s their breakdown: weakside linebacker Justin Durant (five missed tackles), middle linebacker Paul Worrilow (three), strong safety William Moore (two), free safety Ricardo Allen (two), linebacker O’Brian Schofield (one), linebacker Kroy Biermann (one), nickel back Phillip Adams (one) and cornerback Desmond Trufant (one).

Quinn wants to cut those numbers in half down to four or five missed tackles.

He really didn’t like that three missed tackles against the Giants happened on third down.

“Our drives could’ve been stopped right there on three of the third downs, which is such a critical part of it,” Quinn said. “Usually if we can get that number down to where it’s cut in half, and it’s threes, fours, and fives, that’s really when we’ll be at our best tackling.”

The Falcons will keep working on their tackling.

“We’re just trying to be better fundamentally than we were the week before, so this week it’s a real emphasis for us,” Quinn said.

Durant, who played the past two seasons with Dallas, leads the Falcons in tackles after two games with 18.

3. JULIO IS AWESOME: Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones has had 59 straight catches without a drop, dating back to Week 12 of 2014, according to

4. RANKINGS: The Falcons are third in the league with 318 passing yards a game. They rank 22nd in rushing yards with 80.5 yards per game.

5. POWER CHECK: The Falcons are shooting up the polls in most of the power rankings on the internet.

CBS’ Pat Kirwan moved the Falcons up into his 8th spot after they were 16th last week.

Falcons: I'm really happy for Dan Quinn. He's created an aggressive approach on defense that compliments the clutch play of QB Mat Ryan. It remains to be seen how serious Tevin Coleman's rib injury is, and how it affects the Atlanta rushing attack. Last Week: 16

CBS’ Pete Prisco moved the Falcons up into his 12th spot after they were 17th last week.

At 2-0, they are off to a surprisingly good start. As long as Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are chucking it around, they will be in games.

6. THE BOOK OF WEEDEN: Dallas quarterback Brandon Weeden was signed as a free agent over the 2014 offseason to be the backup quarterback to Tony Romo. He washed out in Cleveland.

Weeden has completed 469 of 832 of his passes for 5,492 yards with 27 touchdowns and 28 interceptions in 29 games with 21 starts. He has a 5-16 record.

Weeden made his Cowboys debut against Washington on Oct. 27, 2014. He entered in the third quarter and played in two series after Romo (back) was injured.

Weeden made his only start as a Cowboy against Arizona on Nov. 2, 2014. He completed 18 of 33 for 183 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in the loss.

In two seasons as a Cowboy, Weeden has appeared in six games with one start, completing 31-of-48 passes (64.6 percent) for 376 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.

7. COACH OF THE WEEK: Landmark Christian football coach Wayne Brantley was named the Falcons’ coach of the week. Brantley is 3-1 this season, including wins over Christian Heritage, Lithia Springs and Josey.

Coach Brantley has been at Landmark Christian for four years and has taken the team to the playoffs every year, including the State semifinals in 2012. He also was named Region 5A coach of the year in 2013.

In addition to his on-field coaching achievements, Brantley involves his program in the community in several capacities. Each year, he takes his team to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, leads community cleaning projects and assists with a local community garden. He also provides a football camp for students with special needs at Joseph Sams School.

“Coach Brantley outworks every coach I have come across,” said Landmark Christian principal Mike Bedosky. “He is a true coach and improves his players not only on the field, but also in life.”

As coach of the week, Brantley will receive a $1,000 grant to use towards his football program, a plaque signed by Quinn and suite tickets to the Falcons home game on December 27.

8. PLAY-ACTION FAKES: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is at the top of the NFL in completing passes off of the play-action


Ryan is 11 of 16 in passes off of play-action in 2015, which ranks him among the top five in the NFL. San Francisco' Colin Kaepernick (17), San Diego's Philip Rivers (17), Baltimore's Joe Flacco (14), Minnesota's Teddy Bridgewater (12) and Oakland's Derek Carr (11).

He has also recorded 213 passing yards on those 11 completions off of the play-action fake, which ranks third in the NFL behind Kaepernick (253 yards) and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger (233).

9. DEPTH CHART: Here's the official depth chart for the Dallas game.


WR 11 Julio Jones, 85 Leonard Hankerson, 16 Justin Hardy

LT 70 Jake Matthews, 79 Tyler Polumbus, 75 Jake Long

LG 67 Andy Levitre, 62 James Stone

C 68 Mike Person, 66 Gino Gradkowski

RG 65 Chris Chester, 62 James Stone

RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 72 Bryce Harris

TE 83 Jacob Tamme, 80 Levine Toilolo

WR 84 Roddy White, 17 Devin Hester, 14 Eric Weems, 15 Nick Williams

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 12 Sean Renfree

RB 26 Tevin Coleman, 24 Devonta Freeman, 33 Terron Ward

FB 42 Patrick DiMarco


DE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 99 Adrian Clayborn, 71 Kroy Biermann

DT 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 97 Grady Jarrett

NT 96 Paul Soliai, 95 Jonathan Babineaux

DE 94 Tyson Jackson, 93 Malliciah Goodman

LB 52 Justin Durant, 59 Joplo Bartu

LB 55 Paul Worrilow, 53 Allen Bradford, 54 Nate Stupar

LB 50 O’Brien Schofi eld 56 Brooks Reed

CB 23 Robert Alford, 32 Jalen Collins

CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 20 Phillip Adams, 22 Dezmen Southward

S 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie

S 25 Wiliam Moore, 36 Kemal Ishmael


K 3 Matt Bryant

KO 5 Matt Bosher

P 5 Matt Bosher

KR 17 Devin Hester, 14 Eric Weems

PR 17 Devin Hester, 14 Eric Weems

LS 47 Josh Harris

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter tells CineSport’s Brian Clark how the Falcons scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat the Giants 24-20 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

GIANTS GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 24, Giants 20

Falcons 24, Giants 20 -- Quarter by Quarter

5 things we learned from Falcons' 24-20 win over the Giants

Mark Bradley column -- Don't stop believin': Dan Quinn's men are 2-0

A record day for Julio Jones: 13 receptions

Kroy Biermann: 'We're a ball-attacking team'


Chester, Levitre arrive to bolster Falcons' offensive line

Jake Long signed for $1.1 million

Jones' ailing hamstring kept him out of practice

Moore fined $23,152 for hit on Eagles WR Jordan Matthews

Matt Ryan, Jake Long's friendship rooted in pre-draft desert workouts

7 questions with Giants coach Tom Coughlin

5 questions with Giants quarterback Eli Manning

Beasley, Flowers to face in prime rookie battle

Julio Jones named NFC offensive player of the week

Quinn reflects in aftermath of first win


5 things we learned from Falcons' upset win over Eagles

Matt Ryan leads Falcons to 26-24 win over the Eagles

Jeff Schultz column: An impressive debut by Quinn's new Falcons

Mark Bradley column: A new year: The Falcons dig deep and hang on

Julio Jones moves into fifth on Falcons' all-time receiving list

Tevin Coleman powers new rushing attack

Ricardo Allen seals victory in first start at free safety

4 questions with Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones after the game

Falcons rookies Beasley, Jarrett make impact

Falcons' revamped offensive line shows positive signs

Falcons quotes after their victory over the Eagles

Falcons-Eagles: By The Numbers


COVER 9@9: Where does Jake Long fit?

Falcons' report card: Allen saves day in first NFL start

VIDEO: Where does Jake Long fit?

4-point plan to stop Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Desmond Trufant on the keys to stopping Odell Beckham Jr.


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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.