All in all, the Falcons finished the season with the NFL’s 12th best pass defense. Atlanta may have fallen just short of Top-10 honors, but being in the upper half of the league is never a bad thing.
This past season, the Atlanta Falcons may have fallen short of their Super Bowl goal. But one thing the Falcons did deliver was one of the best defenses in the NFL.
In fact, most NFL betting pundits would agree that Atlanta is rapidly becoming one of the best defensive units in the league. Not only that, the Falcons have enough young talent on board to keep delivering breathtaking defensive performances over the next couple of years.
No doubt there’s still room for improvement, but things are looking quite well looking forward. Let’s take a look at how the Falcons fared defensively in 2017 before taking a look at what we can expect in 2018.
On the Ground
All things considered, the Falcons had a great run defense in 2017, finishing 9th overall against the run. Interestingly enough, Atlanta also wielded the NFL’s 9th best total defense, and there’s no question the run defense was an integral part of that success.
Likewise, the Falcons’ ability to clog running lanes contributed to them wielding the 8th best points allowed per game average in the NFL. There’s no beating around the bush; a great defense starts and ends with the ability to stop the run.
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As for how this will translate to next season’s success, it’s clear the organization has to roll their sleeves up this offseason. Many fans are expecting Atlanta to lose Dontari Poe in free agency, which would be a tremendous hole to fill.
Some mock drafts have the Falcons picking up Taven Bryan, defensive tackle out of Florida, in the 1st round with their 26th. That might be able to help, but there’s no question more will be needed.
Through the Air
All in all, the Falcons finished the season with the NFL’s 12th best pass defense.
Atlanta may have fallen just short of Top-10 honors, but being in the upper half of the league is never a bad thing.
But since this is the only area where the Falcons failed to make the Top-10 cut, there’s really not much room for complaining. Notwithstanding being the 12th best pass defense, the Falcons did have a handful of shortcomings when defending the pass.
Specifically, the Falcons were penalized way too many times. With a total of 10 defensive pass interference penalties last season, Atlanta was the 9th highest offender in the league in that category.
All in all those penalties gave way to 199 penalty yards. That might not seem like a lot for the season, but football’s a game of inches. Additionally, the Falcons had 10 defensive holding calls resulting in 50 penalty yards.
In the end Atlanta’s defensive backs were flagged a total of 27 times, costing the franchise 301 penalty yards.
What this all boils down to is that there are some sizable improvements to be made. The talent is there, the energy is there, and there’s enough youth to keep this defense dominant for years to come.
However, you can have the greatest defense in the NFL crippled by dumb penalties.
We saw plenty of this from Atlanta, all too many times putting a great effort early in the game only to shoot themselves in the foot when it matters most.