You can make a pretty solid case that the offense’s ineptitude cost the Falcons the game against the Browns, at least just as much as the defense’s did. But you can also make a solid case that the defense’s ongoing inability to do much of anything, outside of those outlier performances against the NFC East, is what has doomed the season.
While Damontae Kazee has five picks—an impressive total for anyone, but especially a second year safety pressed into a starting role—the rest of the defense hasn’t been able to pick up turnovers. That means the Falcons have had to play disciplined, high-level football on defense to make up for that, and they really haven’t been able to do that much of the season.
Here’s a particularly sobering statistic for you to chew on tonight. When combined with the team’s lack of pass rushing ability and coverage woes, it ties the whole thing up in a pretty little bow.
#Falcons have gotten only 1 forced fumble from the DL and 1 takeaway from the LB corps, and that was Jones week 1. You can't expect to win a ton of games in a passing league when 2 levels of the defense aren't getting the ball back for the offense. @RiseUpReader @TheFalcoholic— Dominique ⠞⠓⠑⠗⠑⠁⠇⠏⠁⠞⠞⠍⠁⠝ (@therealpattman) November 12, 2018
Against the Browns, a team with a capable but not stellar offensive line, the Falcons got zero sacks. They only really got pressure on Baker Mayfield a small handful of times, and the front seven continues to sometimes make solid tackles and sometimes not. Big plays aren’t even on this team’s radar right now.
Again, I understand what injuries have done to this defense, and I understand that there were limitations among this group on the front seven regardless. Our grand dreams of a strong Falcons defense were undone by the combination of injuries and overconfidence in the defensive line, but to have such a meager total nine weeks through the season really tells the tale for a defense that isn’t good enough to consistently get the job done without those takeaways.
We all want better, and while Jarrett, Takk, Senat and perhaps Beasley will be here next year along with a healthy Deion Jones and promising Foye Oluokun, there’s much work to be done to make this front seven the kind of dominant force we’ve been hoping for. That’s sobering, but we need to confront it and hope that the Falcons do, too.