Compared to their week 5 outing against the Panthers, the Falcons defense was far more stingy this time around. Giving up only 17 points and holding Teddy Bridgewater to just 176 yards passing was only part of the story. Mike Davis still did damage on the ground, but this unit put together two more fourth down stops and forced the Panthers to kick field goals in a true exhibition of “bend but don’t break.” Here are the players that stood out the most on the Falcons defense.
Of all the guys who have taken a big step forward in 2020, none are more notable than Oluokun. You can easily argue he’s been the best linebacker on the team and is easily one of the best players on this side of the ball period. He was crucial in the Falcons fourth down stops, tackling Teddy Bridgewater short of the sticks once and working with Jarrett to stop Mike Davis stone cold in the backfield. He also caused the disruption in the pocket that led to the sack by A.J. Terrell.
His play this year has led many to believe that he could be a long-term fixture in Atlanta and this game was a showcase for that.
It’s almost comical that Jarrett ends up on this list nearly every week, but that’s just the kind of player he is. Raw stats don’t tell the full story here, as he was regularly wrecking the interior of the Panthers offensive line to setup other guys to do the cleanup work. He’s been the one consistent bright spot on this unit and it’s nice to see other guys beginning to join him.
He led the team in tackles with 6 but more importantly, he led the team in bone-cracking hits that send chills up your spine. The resurgence of the hard hits from Neal has been one of the best things of the last few games and he kept it up on Thursday night. While that doesn’t immediately add up to stats, those hits have a cumulative impact through the game that you can’t measure.
The start of the 2020 season was a pretty poor one for Debo. Since week 5, however, he has looked alive and is really beginning to play at a high level again. With 5 tackles, 2 for a loss and a sack on the day, Jones reminded us all that he is still very much capable of being a great linebacker in this league.
The veteran cornerback hasn’t had many chances to impact the game in 2020, but he had a nice run stop and the game-sealing interception in this one, making him a strong candidate. Wreh-Wilson was in after an injury to Kendall Sheffield.
Falcons vs Panther: DPOG
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