The Falcons have done some pretty remarkable work on defense with a pretty lackluster pass rush in 2015, and if the offense manages to improve, that might be enough to take this team on a solid run. Because I don't think we can count on the passing game transforming into something resembling an elite attack, though, I have a humble request for the defense.
Rush the passer better.
A simple demand, yes, but one that's going to take some work to deliver on. The Falcons have looked pretty punchless outside of a handful of plays per game since the victory over the Texans, and it's obvious they don't have the personnel to be, say, St. Louis. Sending more blitzes may help, but given that opposing teams can and will have success throwing dump off passes to the flats and over the middle of the field, it's not a cure-all. Dan Quinn did acknowledge one move Monday, and that's moving O'Brien Schofield next to Adrian Clayborn on the right side in nickel packages.
Not to sound a grim note, but I don't think we're going to see a drastically improved pass rush in the last seven games, even so. Vic Beasley (who we discussed on Monday), Clayborn, Jarrett, and others should be able to offer up a bit more than we've seen thus far, but it's going to take another offseason (or two) until the Falcons have the horses to really get after the quarterback. For now, all Richard Smith can do is scheme around the team's limitations, send more blitzes when it's prudent to do so, and hope for better from the likes of Beasley, Clayborn, and O'Brien Schofield.
If the Falcons can lure in an impact free agent or two (hi, Bruce Irvin!) over the offseason and players like Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett take that step forward, this has the chance to be a truly scary defense. For it to transcend "good" this season, though, they'll need improvement from the men they already have, and I think modest improvement is well within reach. Paired with a (hopefully) better offense, that might be enough to get the Falcons through the roughest stretch of their schedule in decent shape.