Despite first win, Falcons defense has a lot to clean up

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The Falcons earned their first win of the 2022 season, 27-23, over the Seahawks in Seattle. Atlanta’s offense moved the ball at will, posting nearly 180 yards on the ground with another impressive performance from rookie Drake London and the breakout game of 2022 for Kyle Pitts. Arthur Smith’s group has finally begun to mimic the Tennessee offense that was responsible for Smith being hired in Atlanta in the first place. Though it took some magic from the defense at the end of the game, the Falcons came out victorious; however, the defense has a lot to clean up ahead of their Week 4 matchup against the Browns.

Geno Smith looked unstoppable for much of the afternoon, completing 32-of-44 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns. The Falcons’ defense deployed zone early and often, and Smith picked them apart. It seemed most of the time, Atlanta’s corners gave Seattle’s receivers all the cushion in the world, and the West Virginia product took everything the defense was giving him.

The Seahawks’ run game was also incredibly effective — 112 rushing yards on 23 carries, a 4.9 yard per carry average.¬†If it weren’t for some late-game heroics from Grady Jarrett, the Falcons could be sitting here 0-3 instead of 1-2. Marcus Mariota and Tyler Allgeier messed up the exchange on a read option that resulted in a turnover, but thankfully, Jarrett sacked Smith on third down to force a prayer of a throw on fourth and long that Richie Grant ended up intercepting.

With the best rushing attack in football on the docket next in the Browns, Dean Pees has to get things cleaned up. Atlanta is in the bottom third in opponent yards per rush, rushing first downs per game, and in the middle of the pack in rushing yards per game. Cleveland, who relies heavily on the ground game by way of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, ranks first in rushing attempts per game and rushing yards per game and ranks sixth in rushing yards per attempt.

While the Falcons’ offense has experienced a ton of newfound success in the run game, the defense hasn’t entirely caught up in that area. This matchup will be good ‘ole fashion ’90s power running football, and I couldn’t be more excited to see how Dean Pees gets his unit ready for this one.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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