clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Post-game comments: Falcons defense searches for answers after loss to Eagles

Keanu Neal, Dwight Freeney, Vic Beasley, and Tyson Jackson discussed the defense's faults following a disappointing loss to Philadelphia.

James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

After allowing 429 yards against an average Eagles offense, the Falcons defense was left astonished. They were frequently overwhelmed inside the trenches, with Ryan Matthews responding with authority following his recent demotion.

The defense knew their play was unacceptable and didn't shy away from addressing it in post-game remarks, especially Keanu Neal.

NEAL: They ran on the edge a few times, especially the left side. I was supposed to be on the edge and Matthews got by me. Couple times, the guards pulled me and I was supposed to set the edge. I'll definitely take responsibility for that. They did a great job. Running backs ran hard and offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage. We didn't have a response.

Tyson Jackson made no excuses. The defensive tackle personally took the poor performance to heart, and said it was evident that deep evaluations are going to be needed for the front seven to avoid being manhandled like this again.

JACKSON: If you can't stop the run, it's always going to be a long day. We have to do a better job. They kept rotating different running backs, but that doesn't mean we allow more than 100 yards. The winning percentage goes down for a team, when they are held under 100 rushing yards.  It's time to go back to the drawing board and figure things out. We are going to look back at the game plan tomorrow and see where they attacked us from.

Despite featuring mostly in the nickel defense, Vic Beasley is still responsible for stopping the run. He recognized Philadelphia's ball control game plan and praised them. The explosive pass rusher is eager to evaluate their shortcomings.

BEASLEY: We had plenty of opportunities to slow down the running game and couldn't do it. That hurts. We have to look at the tape, evaluate, and then move on. Once the running game gets going, we were on our heels. Credit to Philly. They executed their game plan. Everyone knows about our offense, so you have to try keep them off the field. Some mental mistakes on our part, but they did a great job.

The loss doesn't solely fall on the front four, as the team was vastly outplayed in all phases of the game. Dwight Freeney spoke about growing as a team, Carson Wentz's performance, and not getting to face stalwart left tackle Jason Peters enough.

FREENEY: We need to perform on all sides of the ball. It's no secret that they came up short in all three categories. Everyone takes responsibility. Quinn doesn't treat us differently than the offense or special teams. He treats everyone equally.

BEASLEY: I wasn't in there a lot, but he's been playing at a high level for a long time. They ran the ball well, as I didn't have many opportunities to go against him. It would have been great to face him more often. Game flow just didn't work out that way. I knew I was close to getting a strip sack, but it's a part of the game. If I counted all the times that Freeney was close, I'd have 300 sacks by now.

BEASLEY: Wentz did a good job managing the game. Not many mistakes. Hats off to him. He looked composed for the most part.

Neal laid a vicious hit on Jordan Matthews, which could have been called for a penalty. He addressed the hit and what transpired on the play from his viewpoint.

NEAL: Never will I ever intend to hit a player in the head. That's not who I am. Coach Quinn always talks about the strike zone. That's where I'm attacking. I'm not trying to hit him in the head. Didn't feel the helmet either. I heard the crowd reaction and wondered what was going on. To me, I thought I hit him in the sternum [...] I intend to always use my shoulder. The NFL is focused on cracking down target fouls, so I'm always making sure my hits are legal.

Philadelphia found some success on screens and using Darren Sproles out of the backfield. Neal was relishing the challenge of facing the dynamic running back. While it was a memorable experience, the rookie strong safety was startled by some of Doug Pederson's screen designs.

NEAL: They were a little unexpected. In our zone, we got to have our eyes open and be ready to fall back. They started pulling us out and throwing the backside green. We have to keep our eyes back and be ready to make plays [...] Sproles is so quick, even at his age. I've been watching him since my brother played with him. My brother played for the Chargers. He was always shifty and guys couldn't tackle him. I always wondered why they couldn't contain him. Playing him today made me see it. He is always low to the ground and very powerful. He's stronger than he looks, especially when picking up blitzes.

Beasley continues to develop into a variety of different roles. With his third multi-sack performance of the year, the second year pass rusher is coming into his own. Spying on key players and dealing with chip blocks are adjustments that he is embracing on a weekly basis.

BEASLEY: Spying the quarterback, spying the running back. I've been practicing more and more as the season goes on. There are going to be times, when I need to be prepared for it and make sure to execute on game day. [...] My stat line does look good, but there is so much room for improvement. Learning from the coaching staff and veterans will help build me into the player that I know I can be.

The players are looking to regroup during the bye week. Freeney is almost 100 percent healthy, while Neal is already anticipating a strong response against Arizona.

FREENEY: Not 100 percent, but I'm getting there. I was ready to help this team wherever I could. From leadership to rushing the passer, I'm always going to be a factor.

NEAL: You hate losing in any part of the game. Losing sucks. Going into the bye week, it doesn't feel too good, but this will help us in the long haul. Two weeks with that bitter taste in our mouths and will come back strong.