One key to Sunday’s game was always going to be running the football, given how sloppy the weather promised to be. It’s surprising, then, that neither team blew the doors off the other on the ground, though Atlanta still fared quite well with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
The Jets, however, did not. They carried the ball 22 times on the day and managed just 43 yards, an incredibly low total given how gouge-able this Falcons run defense has been all year. Just a week after the Patriots embarrassed them by repeatedly running up the gut, Atlanta limited the Jets to the lowest per carry average by an opponent since 2010 (technically the 2009 season). That was the second year of the Mike Smith era, and it was nearly a decade ago.
The #Falcons holding the Jets to 1.95 yards/carry yesterday was their best run defense performance since the 2009 season (vs TB on 1/3/10)— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) October 30, 2017
What’s behind the resurgent performance? It helps that Matt Forte is no longer great and Bilal Powell isn’t an elite back, either, but Ahtyba Rubin was very impressive in his snaps, Grady Jarrett was absolutely dominant against the run, and Dontari Poe chipped in at a high level, as well. That combined with a better all-around effort ensured the Jets basically went nowhere, and they were forced to cobble together a short passing attack that made up for their lack of a ground game.
It goes without saying that the Falcons need to be able to do this more often, especially against teams like Minnesota and Dallas that are ready, willing, and able to run all over their defense. If the Falcons can truly get opposing ground attacks under control, I’ll go ahead and say we’ll see them win quite a few games the rest of the way.