Posted: 12:00 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013
By Dave Choate
Going into the Monday Night Football game against the Jets, the Falcons' defense had a pretty clear plan of attack: Get after Geno Smith and force him to make mistakes and toss interceptions. They utterly failed to execute on that plan, getting limited pressure and forcing no turnovers.
The Falcons get another rookie quarterback this week, and if you're a cynical sort, you might suggest that the Falcons will have the same problems. If they can't get after Geno behind a middling offensive line, what are they supposed to do against the vastly superior Buccaneers' O-line? How can they get Mike Glennon?
As it turns out, though, that would be the wrong read. The simplest road to grinding this Buccaneers offense to a halt is two-pronged: Strangling the ground game and letting Glennon beat himself.
For a primer on what I mean, watch this clip of a Glennon interception against the Ravens. You'll note that the Bucs' offensive line does a great job of giving Glennon time to stand up in the pocket, make his reads and execute on the throw. Glennon throws a nice spiral to the left sideline....except it's off the mark and goes right to the Ravens defender, resulting in an easy interception. Glennon misread the coverage and the defender was close enough to make him pay for it.
The blueprint to beating Glennon, then, is to force him to throw. He's got a big arm and may someday grow into a quality NFL passer, but he's not particularly accurate right now and struggles when asked to go through his reads and find the open man. The Falcons have had real issues on defense almost across the board, but their coverage has been above average, and they would seem to be able to cause fits in the same way a more limited Ravens secondary did.
How do you force Glennon to throw more often? Stop Doug Martin. The Falcons have had real success slowing down ground games, and Martin has struggled to find holes thus far in 2013. Oddly enough, this defense with its myriad weaknesses and limited strengths may actually be ideally matched up against what the Bucs can offer on offense.
Now, should we expect Glennon to connect on a couple of deep passes? Yes. Should we expect this to be a game where the defense fully imposes its will on an opposing offense? No. But I can easily see the D doing enough to win and enough to compensate for an offense that is clearly hurting right now.