In the span of a few seconds Friday night, the Falcons defense showed everyone what they can do. No, *plan *to do.
Through two preseason games the Falcons defense has five takeaways, including four interceptions, tied for the league lead. Yes, it's the preseason, but when first-teamers are making plays, you have to notice that and use that knowledge as you begin to shape your expectations.
Atlanta's offense has plenty of expectations, but the defense ... well they're classically under the radar right now. But on Friday, one sequence of events showed where the D is at.
After the Brent Grimes interception in the first quarter came a thunderous block from safety William Moore. Grimes' played the deep pass well, hauling in the throw in the end zone and had the presence of mind to return it 62 yards. Moore's leveling block of the intended receiver, Mike Thomas, drew almost as many raves as the interception itself.
In that moment, the Falcons showed they can make plays but also have a toughness that must be respected.
In in his third-year Moore is drawing a reputation around the league as one of the hardest-hitting safeties, a player it's best to avoid unless you want to spend extra time with the trainers. Swagger like that can cause offenses to make mistakes.
In the words of Moore, a.k.a. Willy Mo, C4, The Missouri Misery (yes, I made that one up ... just now), that's what the Falcons defense wants to be known for.
"We've got a bunch of guys back there that can hit," Moore said Sunday. "We're physical guys and we want to show that. We don't want to be out there looking stiff and just a bunch of us guys that are basic. We're fundamental, but at the same time we're trying to add the swagger to it. We're flying around and we want that reputation of flying around and hitting people."
Moore said Friday night's game confirmed to them there are still some things they need to work on, but they believe in all their pieces on defense and as the preseason goes so goes the ratcheting up of a potentially difficult defense.
"It was a great evaluation for our team," he said. "There's some things that we can clean up, we know that, we knew that before going into the game. We did some great things too, with the turnovers we got. Grimes hasn't lost a step. Up front they were doing an excellent job and we're just trying to tighten things up on the back end."
The problems on third down, the safety feels, were issues of their own creation, mostly caused by miscommunication. He's confident they can correct that and move on without a blip.
The takeaways are a point of pride for the defense, especially this year. The players are coached to run to the ball in every situation. With a mentality like that and some of the playmakers this team has on defense, the takeaways are going to happen. Moore is pretty convinced it's going to be something Falcons fans see a lot of.
"We preach takeaways and we thrive off takeaways," he said. "We've got some athletic guys on our defense all around. You saw that we got a defensive lineman with an interception. I think we're going to get a lot of takeaways this year and get our offense back on the field."
It was already obvious that Moore's got a little explosion in him and Wallace, the Jacksonville receiver, is the last person to experience that, but the safety doesn't think that kind of play ends with him.
Don't think the defense hasn't heard all this talk about explosiveness this preseason for the Falcons' offense. They may have some dynamite of their own.