FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes takeaways from the Falcons' loss to the Cleveland Browns.
The Falcons played far below their standard during Sunday's 28-16 loss to the Cleveland Browns, but at 4-5 with only seven games remaining there's no time to sit around pointing fingers. Besides, all parties deserve to shoulder at least a little bit of the blame.
Atlanta's defense struggled to defend the run and allowed rookie quarterback to have an excellent day throwing the ball. The Falcons' offense, meanwhile, struggled against the Cover 2 scheme that the Browns rolled out on defense, which ESPN's Vaughn McClure noted in his post-game piece.
"Browns coach Gregg Williams typically plays an aggressive man-to-man scheme, but Williams made it clear he wanted to "stay on top" of Jones," McClure writes. "The whole premise behind the Cover 2 defense is to rush four, drop seven into coverage, and take away vertical routes, forcing the ball underneath. Running four verticals is a Cover 2 beater.
"The Falcons simply didn't find the way to consistently combat the zone defense, and not have great success in the run game (71 yards on 19 carries) didn't help the cause. Plus the Falcons are likely to see more "Tampa 2" next week with Rod Marinelli, the defensive coordinator in Dallas, using that zone defense as his staple over the years."
To read the rest of McClure's article, click here.
Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:
AJC: Chubb took little glee in running roughshod over Falcons
There's sure to be plenty of overlap between Georgia Bulldogs fans and Atlanta Falcons fans, which likely made Sunday's game a bittersweet affair for some. Former Georgia star Nick Chubb led the Browns' rushing attack against the Falcons, gaining 176 yards on 20 carries, including a franchise-record 92-yard touchdown run. As D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, though, Chubb didn't take extra pleasure in having a dominant performance against his hometown team.
"This is the same game we always play no matter who the opponent is," Chubb told Ledbetter. "I know that is my hometown, but I'm just prepared like any other game.
"It's always great to win, no matter what it takes. I'm willing to do anything they ask me to do. When I was not getting many carries, I was taking advantage of the ones I got. I was just trying to help the team any way I could. That still the same now that I'm getting more carries. I'm going to make the most out of all of them."
To read the rest of Ledbetter's piece, click here.
NFL.com: What we learned from Sunday's games
Falcons fans may want to forget Sunday's loss as quickly as possible, but what were some of the things gleaned from the contest? NFL.com's Marc Sessler had three takeaways from the game, which were, understandably Browns-heavy.
"Sunday served as an ultra-effective recruiting advertisement as general manager John Dorsey searches for Cleveland's next coach," Sessler writes. "The talent is there, just waiting for the right leader to step in and tug this team toward the promised land. The Falcons, meanwhile, can barely afford another misstep after sinking to 4-5 on the year with a rugged, road-heavy remaining slate featuring tilts against the Cowboys, Saints, Packers and Panthers. In a stocked NFC South, the Falcons realistically need to go 6-1 down the stretch."
To read the rest of Sessler's takeaways, click here.