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Falcons vs. Packers Q&A: Atlanta defense limited by injuries, lack of pass rush

Dave Choate of SB Nation’s Atlanta Falcons blog The Falcoholic answers our questions about the Falcons defense.

Atlanta Falcons v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

In their first game in over 13 years without Mike McCarthy, the Green Bay Packers take the field against the Atlanta Falcons. Dave Choate of The Falcoholic was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the Falcons and provide some insight into their strengths and weaknesses.

APC: The Falcons have fielded one of the worst defenses in the league, ranking near the bottom in DVOA against both the pass and run. Have the team’s defensive issues stemmed merely from their myriad injuries (Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, etc.), or have other issues come into play?

It has been a combination of a handful of factors. The number one issue has of course been injury, as the team lost both starting safeties (two of their better defenders) and their star middle linebacker, who just returned last week. But of course, you couldn’t be this awful just because you lost players.

The Falcons also have no pass rush. Their best pass rushers have been Takkarist McKinley (who hasn’t done much in weeks), Jack Crawford and Grady Jarrett. Crawford and Jarrett are both defensive tackles, and the Falcons have gotten virtually nothing out of their defensive ends and rank as one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL. Couple that with regression from Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant at cornerback and you’ve got a recipe for disaster, which is what Atlanta has been.

We’d like to thank Dave and The Falcoholic for his insight. Be sure to check out our Q&A session over there, as well as their fantastic coverage of all things Falcons. As always, keep your internet machines tuned to Acme Packing Company this Sunday for our comprehensive game-day coverage of Falcons versus Packers.