Atlanta Falcons most intriguing matchups of 2015 – #5


Today, we move on in our “Falcons 50” series, looking at the most intriguing matchups the Atlanta Falcons will face this season. What is at No. 5?

You can find the full list of “Falcons 50″ posts here.

The “Falcons 50” countdown has entered single digits. That means football is coming. What are the most intriguing matchups of the season that the Falcons will face? Here is number five.

No. 5 – Falcons pass rush vs Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick is coming off the back off a disappointing season in San Francisco, but he still poses a tough challenge for defenses. To beat the 49ers, the Falcons’ pass rush will need to keep him in check.

But he’s not what you would define as a pocket passer, and to beat him you must make him one. Against many quarterbacks, the aim is to make them scramble and suffocate their pocket. Against Kaepernick, it’s important to contain him inside the pocket and make him beat you with his arm.

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Once he rolls out, Kaepernick can burn defenses in a number of ways. He can not only extend the play and buy his receivers time to get open, but his long stride makes him dangerous as a runner. In the past three years, he has tallied 1,576 rushing yards and ten touchdowns.

Last year, he rushed 104 times for 639 yards and one touchdown, and this was his most dangerous asset. In the passing game, he completed 289 of 478 passes (60.5 percent) for 3,369 yards and 19 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. His ten passing touchdowns was good for just 17th among quarterbacks.

Of course, the Atlanta pass rush was among the league’s worst in 2014. The unit mustered just 22 sacks and allowed passers time to find their receivers. This is what makes this matchup so intriguing. Can Kaepernick improve his mechanics enough to beat defenses in the air? He has a strong arm, but lacks consistent accuracy.

On the flip side, has the Falcons’ pass rush improved enough to ramp up the pressure and make life difficult for the five-year pro? This battle could determine who walks out of Levi’s Stadium with the victory.

Next: Atlanta Falcons: Five greatest running backs of all time