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Falcons’ pass rush needs to step up to keep hot streak alive

The Atlanta Falcons rank alone at the bottom of the NFL in sacks generated with eight on the season. Under first-year head coach and former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Atlanta hasn’t been much better than year’s past in that category.

Quinn helped maintain an aggressive style of football as the Seahawks averaged 40.5 sacks in the two seasons he was in Seattle (2013, 2014). In 2013 when the Seahawks captured the Super Bowl title, the defense ranked eighth in sacks with 44.

Right now, the Falcons defense doesn’t have the players in place that the Seahawks did and still have, but Quinn should be able to patch things together. This year’s No. 8 overall selection, Vic Beasley Jr. leads Atlanta’s defense is tied with former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Adrian Clayborn with two sacks each.

In terms of quarterback hits, the Falcons have no one who ranks in the top 20 in that category. Beasley Jr. is 21st with nine while former Seahawk and Atlanta starting weakside linebacker O’Brien Schofield is the next closest thing at No. 79 with five.

It’s been the offense that has carried the way for the Falcons once again as quarterback Matt Ryan and his crew ranks fourth-best in points scored per game (27.6).

The defense, on the other hand is 20th in points allowed per game (21.4) which has been an attest to Quinn’s coaching style. Atlanta has forced 12 turnovers on defense (8 interceptions, four fumbles) which places them seventh overall in that category. The team’s turnover differential (+2) ranks 12th.

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The Falcons unfortunately will be without their second-leading tackler and overall most reliable cover man in safety William Moore. Moore is battling a groin injury and was ruled out earlier this week by Quinn. He’s tied for the team lead in interceptions (2) with rising Robert Alford.

Middle linebacker Paul Worrilow has been the steadiest defender and is the team’s leading tackler with 46. He also has contributed an interception and two pass breakups. Newcomer Philip Wheeler who signed with the team on Oct. 20 is expected to play right away. He isn’t going to be a starter right away, but he’ll be able to keep the starters Beasley Jr, Worrilow and Schofield fresh as the top rotational backer off the bench.

Nate Stupar, Schofield and Clayborn are the trio of defenders who have recorded a sack apiece over the last three games.

This is an important week for the Falcons as they face a Bucs offense that has been inconsistent at 2-4 through six games. The pass rush needs to be more effective for Quinn if this team wants to take things to the next level. Atlanta has been fortunate to force turnovers at a nice clip, but eventually the lack of a pass rush will catch up to the Falcons.

At 3-0 at home, Atlanta should be able to earn another win this Sunday. Going for their seventh victory of the season, the Falcons have what it takes to win this NFC South matchup against Tampa Bay.

The Atlanta defense needs to start getting things going along the defensive front. That plan of attack starts this week and if they can be successful it should give them momentum to keep this hot streak going throughout the season.

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