clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Broncos Falcons preview: Denver can ground Atlanta’s passing attack

New, comments

The Denver Broncos have an interesting test against the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday. Here is how they could both win this game and lose it.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have quite the task ahead of them on October 9, 2016 when the high powered Atlanta Falcons offense comes to town. The deciding factor in this game will most certainly come down to Broncos defense versus Falcons offense. This game represents a huge test for both teams.

Matt Ryan is coming off a 500 yard passing day, while Julio Jones is coming off a 300 yard receiving day. They shredded the defending NFC Champion Carolina Panthers defense quite badly.

Let’s dive into some of the Falcons strength in the passing game, because I really think they are playing right into the strengths of the Broncos defense in general.

According to Football Perspective prior to Week 4, Ryan was averaging nearly 9.5 yards per attempt regardless of the wide receiver he was targeting. That’s insane and unsustainable in my opinion. This number jumped to 10.5 yards after last week due largely to the 20 yards per attempt Jones offered in his historic performance.

Why is all of this important?

Pressure.

Every team the Falcons have faced is in the bottom half in the sack category. That doesn’t even account for actual pressure, which the Broncos do better than anyone.

During his 500 yard day, Ryan completed just 44% of his passes and took three sacks when pressured, according to Pro Football Focus. The Panthers pressured Ryan on just 14 of his 42 drop backs, which is why he was able to have such a good game.

That’s just not going to happen in Denver. Von Miller is too good. And the hits began to add up to the point where Ryan will be feeling pressure that isn’t even there by the time the fourth quarter rolls around.

There’s another caveat.

The Falcons are playing the same kind of explosive deep passing offense that led the 2015 Panthers to a 15-1 record and the number one overall offense in football.

Against most teams, quarterbacks will have the time to take advantage of big play opportunities. The Broncos, however, are not most teams.

The clock is ticking and the clock runs short in Denver.

For the Falcons to have any kind of success, they will need to change their game plan through four weeks. They need short, quick throws and they need to get their running backs out in space in the passing game.

That means beating the coverage. Right now through four games, that means exploiting Bradley Roby. He has made some plays, but he has also been making more mental errors this season than he did last season. That is where the weakness in the secondary is from the cornerback position.

The other way is to get Jacob Tamme involved. T.J. Ward has not been playing very well either in coverage and teams have been able to extend drives on third downs often by completing passes against Ward.

Lastly, the Falcons have one of the best pass catching running backs in Devonta Freeman and should focus their game plan around him. Todd Davis is not very good in coverage against these kinds of running backs and neither is Brandon Marshall (or anyone else) for that matter.

This is how you teams can find success against this Broncos defense.

Will the Falcons listen? I hope not...