Atlanta Falcons Defense Seeing Red
Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees took the podium and joked with reporters, “no change in the weather? Thought I was coming to Atlanta, it was going to be hot all the time.” Well, it is unseasonable cool in Atlanta; it’s reaching a boiling point around the Falcons practice facility.
During the first two weeks, teams have cut through the Falcons defense like a hot knife through butter. The Falcons gave up 80 points during those two games, far more than any other team. This is hardly the start expected under and two-time Super Bowl champion defensive coordinator.
"We’ve got to do better in the red area … that is prideful for me. – Dean Pees"
Football games are decided in the red zone. The Falcons rank dead last when defending those twenty yards of turf in front of the end zone, which is uncharacteristic for Pees’ high-pressure, multi-look defense. “We got to do better in the red area. It’s a point of emphasis right now. That is prideful with me that we’ve been good in the red area the never given up a lot of points … we are just giving up too many points down there in the red area we are not getting them stopped.”
Defenders have studied Pees’ complex strategies and schemes, but Erik Harris admits it’s much more than knowing your role. “It’s multiple. You’ve got to know the whole defense. Corners, safeties, you’ve got to learn linebacker’s role, d-ends are dropping back. So, we got to know the defense inside and out.”
Pees has been working with video from his time with the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans. But now he has enough footage to start working with his current roster. “I’m tired, you know they get tired watching Tennessee and Baltimore film after a while you want to watch yourself. So that’s why I’m glad we’re kind of done with that.” Perhaps also indicating more familiarity with the new defense.
Dante Fowler Jr is a fan of the defense playbook, “I love Dean Pees’ defense. It’s my favorite defense since I’ve been with Wade Phillips’ defense in LA. We went to a Super Bowl, and we did a lot of great things. I had a great season. I love his defense.” The linebacker recorded 11.5 sacks and 54 tackles during the 2019 season in LA. The six-time Pro-Bowler expects similar results with this system. “It’s a multiple defense, so you are not just standing in one place. He moves a lot of players around. He has set up positions to make plays; it’s just up to us to make them.”
Pees and his players said lessons have been learned during the first two weeks, and they expect a better result in Week 3. The New York Giants will provide a truthful litmus test. The Falcons struggled to contain Jalen Hurts in Week 1, and now face another mobile quarterback in Daniel Jones. After that, it will be simple to see just how much or if they have improved.