Cover 9@9: Falcons must improve 29th ranked pass defense

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, right, runs for a touchdown as Atlanta Falcons cornerback Robert Alford chases after him during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, right, runs for a touchdown as Atlanta Falcons cornerback Robert Alford chases after him during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

1. SECONDARY IMPROVEMENT PLAN: The Falcons have some time to get their secondary together.

They are set to face Dallas’ Brandon Weeden, Houston’s Ryan Mallett and Washington’s Kirk Cousins and possibly New Orleans’ Luke McCown over the next four games.

After that murderer’s row of quarterbacks, the Falcons will face rookies Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. The next veteran first-string quarterback they play could be San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick on Nov. 8.

After facing Philadelphia’s Sam Bradford and New York’s Eli Manning, the pass defense is ranked 29th in the league (313.5 yards per game). The Falcons are ninth in run defense (80 yards per game).

Quinn had an opportunity to move left cornerback Desmond Trufant on to Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., but he elected to play “sides.” That’s when the player take his side of the field and stays there, normally in a zone scheme.

So, the Falcons decided to live with Beckham, who had seven catches for 146 yards, doing damage.

“I certainly wasn’t satisfied with the results, let’s make that part clear,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “I thought Odell played a terrific game. Some of the time that we played in our three deep we have underneath help, so for all the catches that went to his side in our system where we play, they’re a huge part of how we play our style.”

Quinn didn’t want to single out right cornerback Robert Alford, who appeared to be targeted by the Giants.

“To say it was on the one guy for every catch would be inaccurate in this case,” Quinn said. “At times, we’ll look at that to see if we’re going to feature more man-to-man or zone in the game. In this game, we just happened to feature more zone.”

However, on Beckham’s 67-yard touchdown play, it was pretty clear that Alford was in coverage and free safety Ricardo Allen missed the tackle.

Trufant is the 11th rated cornerback by profootballfocus.com. Nickel back Phillip Adams is ranked 68th and Alford is 75th.

It will be interesting to see if the Falcons try to get second-round pick Jalen Collins more action against the string of less-than-stellar signal callers.

New York Giants running back Shane Vereen runs with the ball against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

New York Giants running back Shane Vereen runs with the ball against the Atlanta Falcons during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

2. MISSED TACKLES: The Falcons missed nine or 10 tackles against the Giants and missed nine against the Eagles, according to Quinn.

The Falcons have missed 16 tackles according to profootballfocus.com. Here’s their breakdown: weakside linebacker Justin Durant (five missed tackles), middle linebacker Paul Worrilow (three), strong safety William Moore (two), free safety Ricardo Allen (two), linebacker O’Brian Schofield (one), linebacker Kroy Biermann (one), nickel back Phillip Adams (one) and cornerback Desmond Trufant (one).

Quinn wants to cut those numbers in half down to four or five missed tackles.

He really didn’t like that three missed tackles against the Giants happened on third down.

“Our drives could’ve been stopped right there on three of the third downs, which is such a critical part of it,” Quinn said. “Usually if we can get that number down to where it’s cut in half, and it’s threes, fours, and fives, that’s really when we’ll be at our best tackling.”

The Falcons will keep working on their tackling.

“We’re just trying to be better fundamentally than we were the week before, so this week it’s a real emphasis for us,” Quinn said.

Durant, who played the past two seasons with Dallas, leads the Falcons in tackles after two games with 18.

3. JULIO IS AWESOME: Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones has had 59 straight catches without a drop, dating back to Week 12 of 2014, according to profootballfocus.com.

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones makes a catch near the end zone on a pass from quarterback Matt Ryan as Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones makes a catch near the end zone on a pass from quarterback Matt Ryan as Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara defends during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

4. RANKINGS: The Falcons are third in the league with 318 passing yards a game. They rank 22nd in rushing yards with 80.5 yards per game.

5. POWER CHECK: The Falcons are shooting up the polls in most of the power rankings on the internet.

CBS’ Pat Kirwan moved the Falcons up into his 8th spot after they were 16th last week.

Falcons: I’m really happy for Dan Quinn. He’s created an aggressive approach on defense that compliments the clutch play of QB Mat Ryan. It remains to be seen how serious Tevin Coleman’s rib injury is, and how it affects the Atlanta rushing attack. Last Week: 16

CBS’ Pete Prisco moved the Falcons up into his 12th spot after they were 17th last week.

At 2-0, they are off to a surprisingly good start. As long as Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are chucking it around, they will be in games.

New York Giants running back Shane Vereen, center, runs with the ball as Atlanta Falcons defensive back Phillip Adams, left, and free safety Ricardo Allen defend during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

New York Giants running back Shane Vereen, center, runs with the ball as Atlanta Falcons defensive back Phillip Adams, left, and free safety Ricardo Allen defend during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

6. THE BOOK OF WEEDEN: Dallas quarterback Brandon Weeden was signed as a free agent over the 2014 offseason to be the backup quarterback to Tony Romo. He washed out in Cleveland.

Weeden has completed 469 of 832 of his passes for 5,492 yards with 27 touchdowns and 28 interceptions in 29 games with 21 starts. He has a 5-16 record.

Weeden made his Cowboys debut against Washington on Oct. 27, 2014. He entered in the third quarter and played in two series after Romo (back) was injured.

Weeden made his only start as a Cowboy against Arizona on Nov. 2, 2014. He completed 18 of 33 for 183 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in the loss.

In two seasons as a Cowboy, Weeden has appeared in six games with one start, completing 31-of-48 passes (64.6 percent) for 376 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.

7. COACH OF THE WEEK: Landmark Christian football coach Wayne Brantley was named the Falcons’ coach of the week. Brantley is 3-1 this season, including wins over Christian Heritage, Lithia Springs and Josey.

Coach Brantley has been at Landmark Christian for four years and has taken the team to the playoffs every year, including the State semifinals in 2012. He also was named Region 5A coach of the year in 2013.

In addition to his on-field coaching achievements, Brantley involves his program in the community in several capacities. Each year, he takes his team to the Atlanta Community Food Bank, leads community cleaning projects and assists with a local community garden. He also provides a football camp for students with special needs at Joseph Sams School.

“Coach Brantley outworks every coach I have come across,” said Landmark Christian principal Mike Bedosky. “He is a true coach and improves his players not only on the field, but also in life.”

As coach of the week, Brantley will receive a $1,000 grant to use towards his football program, a plaque signed by Quinn and suite tickets to the Falcons home game on December 27.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 20: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons makes a first down reception in the fourth quarter under pressure from Brandon Meriweather #22 of the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on September 20, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Atlanta Falcons defeated the New York Giants 24-20. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – SEPTEMBER 20: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons makes a first down reception in the fourth quarter under pressure from Brandon Meriweather #22 of the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on September 20, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Atlanta Falcons defeated the New York Giants 24-20. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

8. PLAY-ACTION FAKES: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is at the top of the NFL in completing passes off of the play-action

Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan confers with quarterback Matt Ryan during team practice Tuesday in Flowery Branch. Curtis Compton/www.ajc.com

Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan confers with quarterback Matt Ryan during team practice Tuesday in Flowery Branch.
Curtis Compton/www.ajc.com

fake.

Ryan is 11 of 16 in passes off of play-action in 2015, which ranks him among the top five in the NFL. San Francisco’ Colin Kaepernick (17), San Diego’s Philip Rivers (17), Baltimore’s Joe Flacco (14), Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater (12) and Oakland’s Derek Carr (11).

He has also recorded 213 passing yards on those 11 completions off of the play-action fake, which ranks third in the NFL behind Kaepernick (253 yards) and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (233).

9. DEPTH CHART: Here’s the official depth chart for the Dallas game.

OFFENSE
WR 11 Julio Jones, 85 Leonard Hankerson, 16 Justin Hardy
LT 70 Jake Matthews, 79 Tyler Polumbus, 75 Jake Long
LG 67 Andy Levitre, 62 James Stone
C 68 Mike Person, 66 Gino Gradkowski
RG 65 Chris Chester, 62 James Stone
RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 72 Bryce Harris
TE 83 Jacob Tamme, 80 Levine Toilolo
WR 84 Roddy White, 17 Devin Hester, 14 Eric Weems, 15 Nick Williams
QB 2 Matt Ryan, 12 Sean Renfree
RB 26 Tevin Coleman, 24 Devonta Freeman, 33 Terron Ward
FB 42 Patrick DiMarco
DEFENSE
DE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 99 Adrian Clayborn, 71 Kroy Biermann
DT 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 97 Grady Jarrett
NT 96 Paul Soliai, 95 Jonathan Babineaux
DE 94 Tyson Jackson, 93 Malliciah Goodman
LB 52 Justin Durant, 59 Joplo Bartu
LB 55 Paul Worrilow, 53 Allen Bradford, 54 Nate Stupar
LB 50 O’Brien Schofi eld 56 Brooks Reed
CB 23 Robert Alford, 32 Jalen Collins
CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 20 Phillip Adams, 22 Dezmen Southward
S 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie
S 25 Wiliam Moore, 36 Kemal Ishmael
SPECIALISTS
K 3 Matt Bryant
KO 5 Matt Bosher
P 5 Matt Bosher
KR 17 Devin Hester, 14 Eric Weems
PR 17 Devin Hester, 14 Eric Weems
LS 47 Josh Harris

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter tells CineSport’s Brian Clark how the Falcons scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat the Giants 24-20 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

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