Atlanta Falcons: 5 ways to achieve deep playoff run in 2015

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Dec 21, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Tyson Jackson (99) celebrates after a sack against the New Orleans Saints during the third quarter at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Defense must get off the field

As they say, defense wins championships. 

In Atlanta’s case, it doesn’t need to win them a title, but it needs to give Matt Ryan more support. Ranking 32nd in total defense and against the pass, the Falcons had little chance of making any noise in the playoffs, even if they did overcome the Panthers in the Week 17 showdown. 

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If Dan Quinn and the new additions can generate some pass rush and help lift the defense into the low twenties, or even to the middle of the pack, the Falcons will have a much better chance if they make it to the postseason.

In January, you need to be able to stop the run. The Falcons ranked 21st against the rush, which suddenly looks a lot better than their woeful pass defense.

Either way, the Falcons need to get off the field much quicker than they were able to. And no, that doesn’t mean they should start giving up 80-yard touchdowns on the first play of a drive. They need to be able to limit teams to fewer points and give Ryan and the offense more time to score themselves.

Last year, Atlanta put up 28 points on the road to Minnesota and lost. They scored 37 past Green Bay at Lambeau Field and came up short again. Some better defensive play and they might be walking away with two impressive road victories.

Quinn is on a mission to change the culture of the Falcons’ defense, and the amount of improvement we see will play a major role in determining how far Atlanta goes this season.

Next: December is the month