Falcons search for defense; epic football weekend awaits


Perhaps no other team in the NFL this season has seen bigger swings on a week-to-week basis than the Falcons. Two impressive division home victories were each followed by excruciating road losses. This past week saw the Falcons give up 558 total yards of offense to the Minnesota Vikings. Atlanta faced the explosive Saints in the opening week, but games against Cincinnati, Tampa Bay and Minnesota should have fared better for the defense. Instead, the Falcons are on pace for the second worst defense in NFL history with 429.8 yards per game.


I saw a chart on Tuesday that showed all the great players the Oakland Raiders have missed out on in the first round of the draft. On the left side were the Raiders selections and the right side was the very next player picked in the draft. Rolando McClain, JaMarcus Russell, Fabian Washington and Robert Gallery were each drafted by Oakland with the picks ahead of C.J. Spiller, Calvin Johnson, Aaron Rodgers and Larry Fitzgerald, respectively.

Curiosity drove me to see what the Falcons looked like in this scenario and it taught me that the first round has not been the problem. Desmond Trufant, Jake Matthews, Matt Ryan, Sean Weatherspoon, Roddy White and Julio Jones were all solid first round picks in recent years. Other moves have left this Falcons team thin and scrambling the past couple seasons.

Atlanta has not been considered a defensive football team for quite some time, but the steady decline on that side of the football is still uncharacteristic. The slide started in 2012 and the Falcons decision to part with Curtis Lofton following the 2011 season. Lofton was fresh off a career-high 147 tackles and two-interception season. Lofton has since found his home in New Orleans, where he carries the load as the Saints middle linebacker.

The scapegoat for getting rid of Lofton was that he was great in the run game but could not cover tight ends in the passing game. The truth is, no one can cover in the passing game without consistent quarterback pressure. We’ve seen tight ends and wideouts continue to hurt the Falcons over the middle of the football field the past three seasons and the lack of push up front is the main issue.

In the loss to Minnesota, former Sprayberry and Georgia Southern running back Jerick McKinnon accounted for 135 of the Vikings 241 rushing yards. Atlanta did not go heavy on the pass rush because the focus was stopping the run. The gameplan backfired and with playaction working and little pressure from the Falcons, rookie Teddy Bridgewater’s job got a lot easier. That is why the bleeding didn’t seem to stop. Expect the Falcons to go back to the drawing board and start making the proper adjustments. With the offensive line suffering a string of injuries, the defense is going to have to start playing better to keep the Falcons in the win column.



Football has been relatively quiet this season in terms of major upsets. Missouri’s come- back over South Carolina was one of the best games this season. This weekend, however, sets the stage for the most eventful weekend this season. The SEC West is 25-0 outside the division and 7-0 against teams in the Power 5 conferences (including SEC East). Six teams from the SEC West are in the top 15 in the AP poll and Arkansas has a solid team despite being the only school from the West outside the top 25. The powers finally collide this weekend and the playoff picture starts to become a little clearer.

LSU at Auburn, Alabama at Ole Miss and Texas A&M at Mississippi State set up one of the best weekends of SEC football in recent memory and probably the only time you will ever see three top 15 matchups in one weekend from the same half of a conference.

At the varsity level, Friday night is packed with must-see action between the state’s southern heavyweights. Region 1-AAAAAA carries a 29-0 record into region play and we’ll see Colquitt County vs. Lowndes, Camden County vs. Valdosta and Tift County vs. Lee County.

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