Yesterday, I talked about how important the running game is and why Atlanta has improved and how that improvement will help the offense. Today, I’ll talk about something that is a little bit more grim and unsure for this coming up year: Run Defense.
Last year, the run defense was definitely a weakness. They ranked near last in rushing yards allowed. They can stop the option as seen in the two division games, but they lost coverage over the middle of the field, a new scheme will fix that.
Unlike the pass rush, which the Falcons at least drafted for in the mid rounds, Atlanta did absolutely nothing for the run defense all offseason. No free agents, no draft picks, they didn’t even get rid of Peria Jerry.
If opposing defenses can run at will, they can also pass at will. Getting the run game started will set up the pass. When the defense is cheating up to stop gashing runs, It doesn’t matter how good the secondary is, a quarterback will be able to complete a pass when a defensive back is late.
We can only hope that some of the undrafted free agents and rookies can improve enough to add enough of a threat at run stopping, maybe even a scheme change, to at least slow down opposing offenses. I don’t believe the defense needs to be a shut down defense, but able to slow the offense down in that the Falcons’ fire power is powerful enough to outscore anyone. But some help in the run defense may be all they need.