Kevin C. Cox
Missed tackles have become a growing concern in recent weeks.
We've seen plenty of it through six games this season. Defenders missing tackles, trying to make a big hit, failing to wrap up. It's no secret the Falcons have dealt with some adversity when it comes to bringing opponents down.
Atlanta is on the hook for 52 missed tackles in 2012, according to Pro Football Focus. Around the rest of the NFC South we see Tampa with 48, New Orleans with 53 and Carolina at a division-high 58. The Falcons finished 2011 with 101 total missed tackles, though, so they are currently on pace to shatter that mark.
As Jay Adams writes, a recurring theme of Monday's open locker was the ongoing issue of missed tackles, and what the team is doing to rectify said problems. Here's what some of the players had to say.
Thomas DeCoud: "I think, now, we have the technique of tackling. Once we make contact, we know how to do that. But I think now it's more so just our path to the ball. The speed of the game is a lot faster and it's faster than it's ever been before, so guys can eat up angles or make you wrong once you get on your way to the ball, so it's more about the path to the ball and making sure we have the correct angles once we're entering contact."
According to PFF, DeCoud leads the Falcons with 11 missed tackles so far. He's played lights out in pass coverage and seems to be gaining attention all around the league, but his tackling is still erratic at times.
Sean Weatherspoon: "We've got to tackle. We'll have the opportunities. We'll be faced with some of the things that we've been faced with in the games previously, so they'll watch tape and see things they think they can do against us and it'll just be up to us to go out there and make sure we hit them whenever we have those opportunities."
After leading the team in missed tackles last season, 'Spoon only sits with two on his record this year. He looks like he's worked hard to better himself and how he goes about his business. 'Spoon has been a nightmare for opponents since coming into the league, but he's even more impressive now that runners aren't getting away from him.
The Falcons do not tackle in practice. They wrap up and the whistle is blown, but no one is out their bringing the ball carrier down. Clearly they already know all there is to tackling in games, but execution has to improve. There were 11 missed tackles recorded against Oakland. Guys would fly in and try to make a hit or shove the runner out of bounds. It doesn't always work like that, though. NFL players aren't always going down from simply being hit hard. Look at the picture above. Remember Greg Olsen's touchdown? He should have been down well before the goal line. Perfect example.
Ray Edward: "All of us have been playing football since we were probably 10 years old. We know how to tackle. We've just got to do it."
Thanks, Ray. Couldn't have said it better myself.
If the defense can improve tackling overall, we will see fewer ridiculous runs from opponents bouncing off Falcons as they work their way downfield. I'm glad to see players acknowledging this issue. Let's hope we notice a change this week against Philly.