Here’s something that was virtually never true during those heady years where Mike Smith helmed the Falcons, or even in the Dan Quinn era thus far: The defense is better than the offense.
That’s not true across the board, and depending on your perspective, it might not be true at all. The defense, as good as it is, doesn’t yet have as much established talent as the offense. But in terms of total yards allowed/piled up, the D ranks better than the other side of the ball.
Falcons are now 9th in the NFL in total offense and 8th in total defense through all games completed today— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) December 11, 2017
The defense has been sharply and justifiably criticized at times in 2017 for allowing long, clock-chewing drives, the kind that deflate the number of yards you’re allowing overall but have severe repercussions in terms of the offense getting the ball and your defenders getting worn out. But they’ve also been quietly stellar at times, holding good offenses in check without the gobs of turnovers they would’ve needed to do so in the past. Part of that is because they’ve been able to make a number of big third down stops, part of it is the improved talent level on defense, and part of it is a secondary that was pretty elite in 2016 taking another half-step forward.
The defense still isn’t a truly great unit just yet, but this is proof of plenty. Atlanta’s not that far away from being able to dominate lesser offenses, at the very least, and the defense will continue to play a major role as the Falcons chase down a playoff spot over the final three weeks.