One of the biggest concerns for the Atlanta Falcons last season was their inability to put any pressure on opposing quarterbacks. That didn’t appear to be an issue in the third game of the preseason, as the Falcons forced Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore to scramble left and right throughout the night.
Atlanta was tied for 19th in the league last year in total sacks, finishing with 33 in 16 games. Brian VanGorder’s defense would often allow quarterbacks to simply sit back and scan the field for seconds on end, leading to easy conversions. The Falcons allowed the fourth-worst third-down conversion rate to opponents in 2011 (44.1 percent) in large part due to their lax pass rush.
Mike Nolan is known for wreaking havoc with his defensive schemes. Things are already looking up in Atlanta, as players are consistently penetrating into the backfield.
Against Miami there were two sacks and five tackles for loss for the Falcons. John Abraham recorded his first sack of 2012, and Lawrence Sidbury wound up with his first as well, causing a fumble on the play that Cliff Matthews recovered.
Kroy Biermann is also flying into the backfield, putting up a string of impressive performances so far in preseason. Biermann brought down Reggie Bush for a loss of five last night, and brought pressure repeatedly during his playing time.
The linebacker corps managed to get after Tannehill as well.
Stephen Nicholas absolutely blew up Artis Hicks at right guard on one possession, and Sean Weatherspoon never seems to have a problem making big plays when they’re needed.
This is still only the third game of the preseason, but it’s a promising start to Nolan’s first season with the team. He hasn’t been sending defensive backs on blitzes as often as we’ve seen from his teams in the past, so he might be saving some of that for the regular season. Whatever the case, the Falcons are already bringing the pressure, a good sign for the team’s potential going forward.