FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Falcons' run defense will be tested yet again this week as they get ready to face the Jets' trio of talented running backs.
Veteran Matt Forte (157 yards), Bilal Powell (283 yards) and Elijah McGuire (205 yards) have combined for 645 yards on the ground for the Jets (3-4) so far this season.
"They're all actually very similar," Jets coach Todd Bowles said of his running backs on Wednesday. "All run, catch and block at the same time. Forte has great vision. Bilal is explosive, inside and out. And Eli – he's very smooth and he just kind of glides. Between the three of them, we try to get it done."
Atlanta (3-3) has allowed more than 100 rushing yards in the past three games – Buffalo 117, Miami 138 and New England 167 – a streak they'll look to end this weekend.
The Falcons currently have the No. 16 ranked rush defense heading into Week 8.
"They have running backs by committee," Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel said. "Forte has been doing it for a while and he comes in and is a downhill, illusive runner. Then they have the combination of young guys right behind him that come in [as] change-up backs. We have our work cut out from that standpoint. Our gap integrity is really the key. Doing our job longer means being consistent in gap control. When I own one, I have to own it. I can't make a play in someone else's gap. That's the consistency we have to get back too."
The Falcons play an eight-man front, and if one player tries to do too much and two players end up playing the same gap for instance, they'll likely be exposed. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett says it all comes down to discipline when playing the run, and that's what they'll try to be on Sunday.
"We have to be gap discipline across the board, Jarrett said. "[When] we come up one gap short, that's when teams will be able squirt out a 7-, 8-yard run, maybe bust [out] a 15-yard run and play the draw better. We need to be more aware and more gap sound."