FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – During training camp, Dean Pees mentioned that he hoped the culture surrounding the Falcons' defense would change. That sentiment is beginning to echo through the first games of the Falcons 2022 season. Over the course of the last three games, the Falcons' defense has been consistent in their approach about establishing a new foundation for this season.
Late in the fourth quarter against the Seahawks with two minutes left, Grady Jarrett had a crucial 10-yard sack on Geno Smith that led to an interception from Richie Grant to seal the win. It wasn't the prettiest victory but what was shown from the defense down the stretch goes back to what Pees talked about previously.
"We definitely want to step up that momentum and continue to grow and learn from things that we can be better at," Jarrett said. "At the end of the day, make more plays."
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The Falcons will look to carry that same momentum into Week 4 against the Cleveland Browns. As mentioned in Wednesday’s daily report, the Browns lead the league in rushing yards with duo Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt leading that charge and the team has a veteran offensive line group that will present challenges for a relatively young defensive line in the Falcons.
"They come at you every single play," Ta'Quon Graham said. "They run the ball a lot, maybe 40 times a game, around there. I just feel like it's challenging because they kind of grind teams out, you know, they're pretty physical and I feel like we have to match that. We got to be more physical, and we have to stay in our gaps."
That will be key come Sunday against a run-heavy offense.
"They have a heck of an offensive line that's all worked together. They are a veteran group and very talented. Probably the best, if not at least one of the best offensive lines in the league," Pees said. "Their tandem of backs, I mean either one of them can be starters on every team probably in the league. They're just two great talented backs. It's the best of backs I think I've ever been around combined together and that's not taking anything away from any one guy."
Take a look as the team puts in the work in Flowery Branch to prepare for this week's game against the Cleveland Browns.
The Falcons have seven sacks, five takeaways, three interceptions and 12 tackles for a loss through the first three games. In comparison to last season, those numbers have improved across the board.
Closing out the game against the Seahawks was a step in the right direction for this defense and shows the resiliency that this team carries. With the Browns run game being a focal point heading into Week 4, Jacoby Brissett and players like David Njoku and Amari Cooper will bring another challenge within itself.
"Anytime you get the running game going, it's always going to be an asset to the passing game," Pees said. "You're going to pull linebackers up to play the run, you're going to get secondary guys to bite on the run. Anytime the running game is strong, usually the passing game has a chance then too and they do a good job with the play action, quick game, all that stuff."
Jarrett mentioned after Thursday's practice that it's going to take all 11 guys on defense to have an effective game against the Browns, but they're ready for the challenge this game will present.
"Every play you got to be ready," Jarrett said. "Not just on the defensive line level of play, but the whole defense. That presents a challenge in itself and I think it's going to take everybody."