Third Down Pass Defense: Mike Nolan Edition

The biggest challenge for Mike Nolan this year, as a Defensive Coordinator is probably to improve the Falcons third down pass defense. This won't be an easy task for Mike Nolan as last years falcons defense couldn't stop Christian Ponder and Tavaris Jackson on third downs. In this post, lets dig in to the third down pass conversions allowed by Miami and Atlanta compared to the rest of the NFL in 2011.

Third Down Pass Conversion Allowed:

Rank Def Pass Att. 3rd Conv 3rd Conv %
1 ARI 168 42 25.0000
2 BAL 178 52 29.2135
3 NYJ 181 53 29.2818
4 MIA 172 51 29.6512
5 HOU 175 52 29.7143
6 DEN 161 49 30.4348
7 NO 174 54 31.0345
8 CIN 169 54 31.9527
9 KC 153 49 32.0261
10 DET 160 52 32.5000
23 DAL 164 64 39.0244
24 OAK 173 69 39.8844
25 TEN 178 71 39.8876
26 TB 137 56 40.8759
27 ATL 166 68 40.9639
28 CAR 150 62 41.3333
29 NE 158 66 41.7722
30 MIN 160 67 41.8750
31 IND 154 68 44.1558
32 SD 144 65 45.1389

  • Miami's pass defense ranked 4th in 3rd down conversions allowed with 29.6% conversion rate. The reason for Miami's success on 3rd downs was primarily because of QB pressures/sacks.
  • Atlanta ranked 27th in 3rd down conversions with a 40.96% conversion rate. The significant portion of the conversions allowed were in the middle of the field by the Linebackers. Curtis Lofton lead the team in 3rd down conversions allowed and Sean Weatherspoon lead the defense in 3rd down stops forcing 13 Punts.
  • NO ranked 7th in 3rd down pass conversion%, the Saints did a good job in getting key stops for the offense to score points and increase the lead or keep the games close. It would be interesting to see if Curtis Lofton will continue to give up bunch of 3rd down conversions in NO.
  • Only teams ranked in the bottom 10 which made it to the play offs were ATL at 27 and NE at 29. This shows how much pressure Ryan and the offense were in to compensate for lack of good defense on third downs.
  • Six of the top 10 teams with least 3rd down conversions % made it to the play offs, except Miami the other 3 teams missed the playoffs by 1 game.

Here is another example of the pressure Mike Nolan's defense in Miami put on Brady.


This clip is on 4th down against NYG, but this should look familiar to the Falcons fans as the QB throws early with a defender on the back,only to miss everyone..


And last but not the least, if the same QB above gets enough time this is what happens on a deep ball.


I hope Mike Nolan has a good plan in place to improve the 3rd down pass defense. Personally, I have no doubt that Asante Samuel is part of that plan and probably Mike Nolan thinks Defensive line problems can be solved by creative pressure packages.

<em>This FanPost was written by one of The Falcoholic's talented readers. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The Falcoholic.</em>

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