The Atlanta Falcons defense gave up boat loads of yards to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. 474 total yards to be precise. Those are terrible numbers, and it has to get better if the Falcons are going to keep winning. But the first thing the Falcons absolutely need to fix is their tackling. Just take this quote from Pro Football Focus as evidence the Falcons tackling is awful:
With 11 missed tackles (tied for a season high) in this game the Falcons have now missed 52 after six games. At this pace the Falcons are on course for 138 missed tackles this season, 31 more than they missed last season.
Wow. Those numbers are absolutely abysmal. The Falcons defense has to be better than that. Every defense is going to give up some yards and allow teams to do some things; it’s impossible to take away everything from an offense. But if the Falcons want to be successful and keep the receivers and therefore the ball in front of them, they absolutely have to tackle better.
It seemed by watching the game against Oakland that the secondary was pressing too hard to make a big play, too hard to make the jarring hit, just focused on absolutely anything but making a sure tackle. It wasn’t good, and the Falcons gave up boat loads of yards after contact, not to mention other yards after the catch. They have to do a better job of limiting the offense.
A lot of it had to do with the Falcons missing linebacker Stephen Nicholas for most of the game. He is a very active and important to what this Falcons defense does up front, and even with him healthy in the lineup, this defense wasn’t very good against the run. With him missing and facing a Raiders team that was re-committing to the run, the guys filling in really highlighted their inability to bring down the ball carrier.
Short and simple, this Falcons defense has been doing a very good job of creating turnovers, and benefiting from it. But it seems the defense if trying to create the turnover every time rather than playing fundamentally sound football. They need to get back to the basics from a tackling standpoint, as they may not survive another poor tackling performance as they did against Oakland.