The Atlanta Falcons defense today played with a chip on their shoulder. They played with aggression, passion, and heart. Sunday’s 26-9 domination over the New Orleans Saints was by far their best defensive performance of the season.
It is not coincidental that this occurred the same day that Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn gave up his defensive play-calling duties. This was no coincidence and there is a clear correlation between the two.
The Falcons had a stellar defensive game plan today and executed it flawlessly against the Saints high-powered offense. They held New Orleans to 310 total yards, including only 52 total rushing yards. Sunday was the first time since 2004 and the ninth time in franchise history, that the Falcons recorded six-plus sacks and did not allow a touchdown. It was also the first time since 1998, and the third time ever that they held the Saints without a touchdown at home in the Superdome.
Where has this dominating Falcons defense been all season? The answer is invisible, thanks to Dan Quinn. After eight weeks of egregious play-calling and embarrassing play, he has finally swallowed his pride and relinquished and conceded the defensive coordinator position to former linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich.
So, meet your new Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator.
The fifth-year Atlanta Falcons coach clearly emphasized the anemic pass rush Sunday. The Falcons registered six sacks and had seven sacks coming into Sunday’s game all season. Grady Jarrett led the way with two-and-a-half sacks to go along with five quarterback hits.
Even Vic Beasley chipped in with one-and-a-half sacks Sunday, for a player that has been mostly inconspicuous the first half of the season.
If this is the defensive play-calling that Falcons fans will be accustomed to seeing in the second half of the season, then this gives them something to look forward to. It was painfully obvious that Quinn has been running a terrible defensive scheme all season.
The talent is there defensively and should have at least been good enough to be competitive in every game. Quinn was rolling out some hybrid 3-4 hybrid scheme. The scheme looked completely different and it was evident that Ulbrich was using each player’s strengths as opposed to trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
After the re-shuffling of furniture by Quinn during the bye week, the coaches are back coaching in their respective positions, where they belong. There never should have been a secondary coach working with the receivers in the first place.
This does not help with the development of young players, especially rookies. Raheem Morris was moved back to help out with the secondary, which is his area of expertise and Sunday the communication on defense was much better.
One game does not make a second half of the season by any means. It is way too early to get overly excited, but today was by far the most enjoyable game to watch from a defensive point of view all season. It remains to be seen if this stellar defensive play will carry into next week, the week after that and so on.
If Jeff Ulbrich has anything to say about it, the answer is yes it most definitely will!