FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – When asked how Atlanta's defense was able to limit the production of the New York Jets' offense on Sunday – the run game in particular – and linebacker De'Vondre Campbell said the Falcons showed a look the Jets "probably weren't expecting."
"We felt like they had a certain game plan on how to attack us, so we went opposite of what they expected of us," Campbell said of the Falcons' performance, which held the Jets to 279 total yards on offense, including 43 coming on the ground. "I think it was a bit of a change up for them. They were expecting a lot of zone probably. They were running a lot of routes that were beaters for our zones so we switched it up on them, [brought] a little bit of pressure to keep them guessing."
The Falcons' defense is full of versatile players who can fill multiple roles, which allows them to play both man and zone coverage.
"We knew we would have to play better on third down," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "We like to play man-to-man and we are fortunate that we have the guys to do that. Sometimes it will depend on the matchups, sometimes it will depend on the situation of what we need to do. That's what was needed yesterday. As we went into the run game thinking what ones were going to be our strongest, knowing they were going to try us in that area, we wanted to make sure we were really strong and stout in that area."
That they were. Atlanta's defense held the Jets to 5-of-15 on third down, a major factor in the final outcome. Getting off the field gave the Falcons' offense more possessions, ultimately giving the team more opportunities to score.
Atlanta added more periods in practice devoted to third down work, and it appears to have paid off.
"I hope it did and it was a difficult day to throw, for sure, so it wasn't a clean day for that," Quinn said of the extra practice added to this area. "Just having that ability to go against the offense at times, some of our periods that we added were just Falcons against Falcons competing in man-to-man coverage, playing aggressive. For sure it had a factor and it's something we'll continue to do."