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Saturday Apr 29th, 2017  

 Foes’ ‘explosive’ pass plays become vexing for Falcons
posted 8 years ago

Flowery Branch —- In the past two games, the Falcons’ pass defense has been lacking. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers passed for 313 yards Sunday, and Carolina’s Jake Delhomme passed for 294 yards the Sunday before. “That is a concern in terms of passing yards,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “That’s something that we as a staff have to address, and we’ll be addressing it.” More disturbing to Smith are the big plays. Green Bay had touchdown passes of 44 and 25 yards and other pass plays of 37 and 36 yards. In the Carolina game, the Panthers’ Steve Smith had a 56-yard touchdown catch, and Muhsin Muhammad had a 44-yard scoring reception. Anything over 20 yards is what Smith and his staff consider “explosive” plays. “Teams are going to move the football, but you can’t allow them to have passes in big chunks,” the coach said. Safeties Erik Coleman and Lawyer Milloy play key roles in the Falcons’ varied zone defenses. Coleman said there hasn’t been just one thing going wrong. “That’s just something that we have to work on —- finishing plays,” Coleman said. “I think that we are getting better as a group. We are trying to shut down those explosive plays and keep things in front of us. It’s just something that we’re going to have to keep working on.” Rodgers made a near-perfect throw on the 44-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver, who was tightly covered by Coleman and cornerback Brent Grimes. Rodgers made another nice toss on Greg Jennings’ 25-yard touchdown, with Domonique Foxworth draped over Jennings. “We are there. We have to make those plays,” Smith said. “That’s something we’re going to address. We are a young secondary in terms of our corners. It’s not just the secondary. The linebackers are dropping back in coverage as well.” When in zone coverage, the defenders have areas to patrol. When the ball is in the air, they have to pick up the receiver in their area and break on the ball. Discipline is a big part of it. By design, there are going to be holes in zone defenses. “Aaron Rodgers did a great job of finding holes, and the receivers did a great job of catching the ball,” Coleman said. One of the zones, a 3-3-5 alignment where linebacker Stephen Nicholas is in the game, paid off. Nicholas can either rush or help out in coverage. The Falcons were in that alignment when Michael Boley made a key interception in the fourth quarter.

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