Just like he said, Mike Nolan's putting together a defense in Atlanta that gets pressure from a variety of ways and slowly but surely a number of players are getting involved in the tackles for loss and sacks that the Falcons defense is generating through two preseason games.
Last week the Falcons had seven tackles for loss and three sacks. This week they had five tackles for loss and one sack. The details behind the numbers show that Nolan's getting this production from all over the field, not just his star pass rushers.
In Thursday's loss to the Bengals, the Falcons had two tackles for loss from defensive backs, two from defensive ends and one from a linebacker, in addition to defensive end Peria Jerry's sack. Safety Chris Hope has seen a lot of types of pressure from defenses from his days as a starter in Pittsburgh and sees an aggressive unit blossoming in Atlanta.
He believes the defensive backs are critical to Nolan's pressure scheme because the defensive backfield is filled with versatile players.
"We have depth at safety and that's a good thing." Hope said. "We have guys that can play, run and tackle and cover. When you have that, you have an opportunity to do a lot of things up front. When you have that, you can pretty much bring blitzes from all over since you have safeties that can do multiple things."
Hope singled out cornerback Dunta Robinson after the Bengals game. Robinson finished the game with three tackles, one tackle for loss and a pass deflection. That stat line reflects the versatility Hope believes is integral to Atlanta's new defense under Nolan.
"We have physical corners," Hope said. "Dunta has been playing well for us, tackling well and playing physical. When you have DBs that aren't afraid to come in and make tackles, you can bring pressure from pretty much everywhere. I think that's what is bringing versatility to coach Nolan's play calling."