Probably the most impressive thing I have seen yet in the preseason was the dominant running game. Not on the offense, however, but the defense. Ray Rice was held to only 10 yards on 8 rushes. Considering the Ravens Offensive line isn’t bad and Ray Rice is very good, that says a lot.
But it wasn’t just the Ravens. Although the Bengals don’t have quite as good of a ground game as the Baltimore, the Bengals only had one good run off a missed tackle.
I believed the run defense to be the biggest weakness for the falcons. They had a very hard time stopping the run late in the season and made no personnel movements to counter that. The pass rush should be at least a little improved with a more mature Massaquoi and a younger Umenyiora, but Babineaux can’t stop the runners by himself. Apparently only a minor scheme change is all that was needed to turn this defense into a dominant run stopping machine.
I don’t mean to say that after two preseason games with no game planning I predict a top 5 run defense, only that it is noticeably improved. It appears now that Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters might have the tools to be a good run stuffing duo. Maybe the tools are already there and it’s only up to Mike Nolan to put together a scheme and Mike Nolan may have already found it.
How impressed are you with the run defense so far?