FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Atlanta’s defense has faced their fair share of talented running backs of late. And it doesn’t get any easier this weekend as their next task will be trying to shut down Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys’ rushing attack.
The Falcons are coming off one of their worst performances against the run as they allowed the Browns to rush for 211 total yards Sunday. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett didn’t mince words following the loss, saying that type of performance in the run game is in no way up to their standard.
“We’re definitely going to rebound from our performance that we had last weekend and try to get back to our way of stopping the run,” Jarrett said.
The Falcons (4-5) will need to make their adjustments in this area quickly as their next challenge happens to be coming off their best game of the season. Elliott, who rushed for 151 yards on 19 carries and scored a touchdown against the Eagles, has rushed for 831 yards and four touchdowns this season.
His best attribute as a running back is his patience, according to Falcons coach Dan Quinn.
So how will Atlanta’s defense combat this? It’s all about being disciplined.
“We have to be patient as well,” Jarrett said. “You can’t do a lot of gap jumping and peeking, when he sees some air and some light he’s going to hit it. Guys have to be disciplined across the board.”
The Cowboys’ offense is predicated off their ability to run the ball. Elliott is an unfamiliar opponent to the Falcons as he was unable to play due to his suspension last season when these clubs met in Week 10.
But as the Falcons saw firsthand against in the loss to the Browns, if they don’t have success in defending the run on first and second down, it limits what they’re able to do from a pass rushing standpoint.
Atlanta has been at their best when they’re able to stops early on to set the tone and they’ll look to do just that against Elliott and the Cowboys (4-5) on Sunday.