Atlanta Falcons Defense Picked the Right Time to Click

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 02: Cam Newton
ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 02: Cam Newton /

The Atlanta Falcons defense hasn’t looked as good as its stats would indicate because the team’s three-game losing streak had critics.

The Atlanta Falcons defense hasn’t looked as good as its stats would indicate because the team’s three-game losing streak had critics and fans alike looking at the glass half empty (the same could be applied to the offense, by the way).

The fact remains, though, that the Falcons rank 11th in total defense and against the run.

Results and performance finally aligned on Sunday, when the defense allowed the New York Jets 279-yards of total offense and just 43-yards on the ground in Atlanta’s 25-20 win.

It was, nonetheless, what sportscasters like to call an “ugly win,” but the defense will have plenty of time to hone its skills, considering that the Falcons’ next two opponents will be each without one of their key offensive players.

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First things first, the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. There is an article in Atlanta listing five Carolina players that command attention.

Not included on that list is wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, whom the Panthers traded to the Buffalo Bills for a 2018 third and seventh round draft pick.

We had an inkling that Carolina quarterback Cam Newton picks his outfits in the dark, but that’s apparently the way that the Carolina organization prefers to conduct its business.

Make no mistake, though; that trade makes a lot of sense – for the Bills, whose Playoff-o-Meter (which is totally scientifically-based) forecasts an 80% chance that the Bills will make the postseason.

But the Panthers had their reasons for trading Benjamin, even if Newton doesn’t understand them.

"“This was more about getting more speed on the field. We’ve got some young players who we think have some real ability,” interim general manager Marty Hurney said. “Kelvin was a very good player and was productive for us. It was more getting a mix of skill sets on the field and more speed.”"

Carolina’s offense has “eight games to prove [Hurney] right,” Jeremy Bergman writes in

The Falcons defense has one game to start proving him wrong.

The Panthers will rely now more than ever on young running backs Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel, both of whom Atlanta’s run defense should in theory have no problem stopping, especially the former, who has struggled breaking arm tackles and running inside.

Then there’s the Dallas Cowboys, who will visit Atlanta on November 12th, and they will presumably do so without running back Ezekiel Elliott, who is expected to finally start serving the entirety of his suspension against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

You know, some say Zeke’s suspension doesn’t hold water, but then again, neither does the retractable roof at Mercedes Benz Stadium, and you don’t see Thomas Dimitroff asking for an unprecedented second bye week.

“We’re going to run the exact same plays” with or without Elliott, guard Zack Martin said. But are they really the same plays, though, if they are run by the triad of Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden, and Rod Smith instead of the half-shirt wonder?

After all, this not like Bewitched, where no one noticed when they switched Darrins.

It isn’t as easy, either, as replacing Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal and no one being the wiser.

Next: Can Falcons Learn to Fly Again?

One thing’s certain, though, and it’s that the Falcons will be able to scout ahead what the Cowboys’ Zeke-less run game is capable of.