The Atlanta Falcons defense continued their dominance over the Carolina Panthers. If only their defense played this well on a weekly, consistent basis, this season might have had a different outcome.
The Atlanta Falcons defense played lights out. They gave up 345 total yards, had five sacks, forced two fumbles and had two interceptions. Overall, they had four takeaways.
Why do we only see this defensive domination for the most part only against the division rival Panthers?
If only the Falcons played with the same amount of passion weekly against other teams as they do Carolina, their record wouldn’t be 4-9. This is the defense fans have been imploring for all season long.
Many contributing factors have led to such inconsistency on the defensive side of the ball. This includes lack of turnovers, lack of passion and energy, lack of depth and/or talent and poor coaching.
The Falcons came into week 14 with only two fumble recoveries all season. Against Carolina, they forced three fumbles. On a kickoff, Damontae Kazee forced a fumble that fell directly into the arms of Younghoe Koo, who happened to have luck on his side and be in the right place at the right time.
The other two fumbles were courtesy of two Vic Beasley strip-sacks. This was reminiscent of 2016 when Beasley led the league with 15.5 sacks and six forced fumbles. Too little too late for Beasley, as he will likely be playing elsewhere in 2020.
Takkarist McKinley recorded two sacks as well. He was a big factor today, along with Beasley, Jr. and Damontae Kazee. McKinley was due for a big game as his effort quarterback pressure has been there all season.
Damontae Kazee had two interceptions and now has three on the season. He has such good closing speed and plays pretty well with the ball in front of him. He looks so much more comfortable at his natural safety position than he did playing out of position at cornerback.
Kazee is such a ballhawk. One wonders how many more interceptions he would have had he been playing safety all season long, where he should have been. Next season from day one he should be and has to be a contributing factor on defense.
Matt Ryan‘s 93-yard touchdown pass to Olamide Zaccheaus was the highlight of the day. It was Ryan’s career-long touchdown pass and was a beautifully thrown ball. Zaccheaus broke a tackle after catching the long bomb and took it to the house.
This was Zaccheaus’ first career reception and only catch of the day; alk about stealing the show. The undrafted rookie free agent from Virginia was very impressive in the preseason and took advantage of the opportunity after Calvin Ridley left the game. He should see more snaps over the last three games of the season.
The Atlanta Falcons have been so frustrating to watch all season with their inconsistent, poor play on both sides of the ball. Their lights out play on defense was so refreshing to watch, but is somewhat of a tease.
Atlanta Falcons fans will continue to be subjected to such inconsistent defensive play weekly, except for when the Panthers come to town or the Falcons visit Charlotte. How a team can continue to have zero pass rush and contain no pressure one week and then record five sacks the next week is enigmatic.
Thankfully there are only three weeks left in the season until Falcons fans are finally put out their misery for 2019. A whole new regime and fresh perspective give us all something to look forward to in 2020.