In Spite of Loss, Falcons' Defensive Line Shows Some Improvement

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Fact: Peria Jerry finished World of Warcraft.

We saw some improvement along the defensive front this week. Even if that doesn't lessen the sting of a completely avoidable loss to the once-lowly Dolphins, it's worth pointing out. It also gives us something to look forward to as fans - can't hate on that. All that said, it's still a mixed bag, including some good, some bad, and some downright ugly. Let's break it down.

All eyes were on Jonathan Massaquoi this week as he assumed a starting role for the first time. He didn't exactly live up to our expectations, getting handled by former Falcon Tyson Clabo.

Jonathan Massaquoi (-3.4) [...] played well the first two weeks in a more limited role, playing 17% and 58% of snaps. In the aftermath of Biermann’s injury, that figure rose to 79%, with less-than-favorable results. The second-year player did notch a hit and two hurries (though one was unblocked) and they came in 35 snaps rushing the passer, yielding a mediocre 6.4 Pass Rushing Productivity rating. His work in coverage also left something to be desired; though he only dropped back twice, he was burned by Lamar Miller on one of the two occasions, saved only by a dropped pass.

Massaquoi is entitled to one less-than-ideal outing. I'll give him that. To some extent, Mike Nolan will need to figure out a way to schematically hide his inadequacies, at least for now. By the end of the season, I'm confident Massaquoi will have a break out performance or two. This just wasn't his week.

For what it's worth, this was arguably Peria Jerry's best game as a Falcon. He notched a sack, a quarterback hurry, and stopped a run for no yards gained. What's more, he drew a holding penalty against his brother, so that's cool. Osi Umenyiora also broke out in a huge way. He took Ryan Tannehill down twice, while also forcing two fumbles. Not a bad afternoon for a washed up former Giant our star defensive end. Joplo Bartu, Akeem Dent, and Robert "Bobby Mac" McClain also contributed sacks, and while they're not technically part of the defensive line, one has to credit the defensive line anytime a quarterback goes down.

The run defense ostensibly took a slight step backwards yesterday. They allowed the Dolphins to gain 90 yards on the ground, averaging six yards a carry. But keep in mind that Lamar Miller's 49 yard run certainly inflated that average. Without that run, the Dolphins gain only 41 yards on the ground, averaging 2.9 yards/carry.

All in all, notwithstanding Massaquoi's middling performance, the defensive line seems to be trending in the right direction. Nothing wrong with that. Your thoughts?

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