FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – After giving up 130 yards on the ground to Dolphins' running back Jay Ajayi on Sunday in Atlanta's 20-17 loss to Miami, Falcons coach Dan Quinn didn't shy away from saying defensively his team's performance against the run has not been up to their standard over the last two games.
"The run game is not up to where we want it to be defensively and that's extended some drives for the opponents' offense," Quinn said Monday.
The Dolphins took more than eight minutes off the clock on their first scoring drive of the game in the third quarter. The drive was a 15-play, 75-yard scoring drive and six of the 15 plays were runs.
Then on Miami's final scoring drive that gave it a 20-17 lead over the Falcons, Ajayi broke off two 18-yard runs, ultimately getting the Dolphins in field goal position.
Quinn cites gap control as the overarching issue he saw from his defense's performance against the run.
"For us, we play a lot of eight-man fronts," Quinn said. "It's really about having great gap control. If you're supposed to be in your spot, make sure you own that spot. Sometimes you want to get so aggressive. 'I want to take a shot, [but] I may have lost my gap.' That's where the ball hits on that play. [It's] Murphy's Law, so to speak. OK, 'I'm taking my shot, [and] it ran to that space.'
"In this game, we were discouraged we didn't play the gaps like we normally should. It wasn't all the time, but when your time comes up, you better own that moment. There were about six or seven of the plays that took place in this game that extended drives because we just didn't nail it."
After five games, the Falcons rank No. 13 against the run, giving up an average of 102 yards a game.
Quinn is confident that his team will "shore" up this part of their game and they'll have the opportunity to do so this week when they travel to Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots.
New England has the No. 19th rushing attack, averaging 102.2 yards on the ground. The Patriots use a multitude of backs in their offense. Through six games, here's the breakdown of New England's rushing attack:
• Mike Gillislee: 79 carries, 290 yards, 4 touchdowns
• Dion Lewis: 30 carries, 151 yards, 2 touchdowns
• James White: 23 carries, 99 yards, 0 touchdowns
• Rex Burkhead: 5 carries, 18 yards, 0 touchdowns
The Falcons will get back on the practice field and begin preparations for the Patriots (4-2) on Wednesday.