As the Atlanta Falcons (4-7) prepare to host the New Orleans Saints (9-2), FOX Sports color analyst Jonathan Vilma joins AtlantaFalcons.com to preview the game.
*What's been the biggest difference from what you've seen on tape from the Falcons over the last few weeks? *
The effort they are playing with, that's always the first thing I look for. Defensively, are guys running to the ball? Are they trying to make the tackles? The scheme is going to be the scheme, players are going to make plays. Are you going to play hard? Are you going to play fast? They are doing that. Offensively, they've always been pretty good. I haven't seen much change from that perspective. It's really been about the defense starting to pick up their tempo which is helping them be 4-2 under Raheem Morris.
What changes have the Falcons made on defense that's allowing them to have success?
I've seen them simplify it. Not a lot of moving around and disguising. When you make it simple for the players they can play fast. And it's not that they didn't have good athletes on that side of the football, it was just a matter of them getting them to play to their capabilities. Especially on third down, there's not a lot confusing coverages, they know what the coverage is, and they know who they are covering which is half the battle. They're able now to get pressure up front and that's been the biggest difference.
Who has caught your eye recently?
Deion Jones has really caught my eye defensively. I'm still very impressed with Calvin Ridley. I just wish Julio Jones could be 100 percent for a whole season so those two could really start problems for opposing defenses.
What do you expect the Falcons to do differently this weekend against the Saints?
Offensively for the Falcons, they need to have some checks within their checks especially on third down. The reason Matt Ryan was getting harassed so much was the coverage was excellent on the back end by the Saints. He had nowhere to throw the football. They understood third-down route concepts, they doubled them up if necessary. It left Matt Ryan in a bind; I would imagine they are going to have some nuances to their third down passing game because the Saints were all over it. If they do that, it won't put so much stress on their defense because their defense played well to start but just wore down.
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