Manuel has plan to stop Jets’ rushing attack

Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel discusses the aNets rushing attack, if Ahtyba Rubin can help and the play of De'Vondre Campbell. Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Falcons have seen the run of Matt Forte slicing and dicing his way through the Miami Dolphins’ defense.

On third down-and-19, he caught a screen pass out to the right and juked and powered his way through seven missed tackles on his way to a 21 yard gain last week.

“Forte has been doing it for a while,” Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuell said. “ He comes in and he’s a down-hill elusive runner.”

Tackling Forte in the open field is one of the Falcons’ major task, but they must also stop the Jets rushing attack. In addition to Forte, the Jets have running back Bilal Powell and rookie Elijah McGuire.

“One of the things is that they have running back by committee,” Manuel said. “Then they have a combination of young guys right behind (Forte) them as change up backs. We have our work cut out (for us) from that standpoint.”

The Falcons have given up 117, 138 and 162 yards rushing to Buffalo, Miami and New England. They are giving up 112 yards, which ranked 16th in the league. The Jets are rushing for 103.3 yards per game, which is 19th in the league.

With journeyman Josh McCown at quarterback, the Falcons want to stop the run. McCown is the 29th rated quarterback in the league by analytics site footballoutsiders.com.

Manuel believes the Falcons have to do a better job getting off blocks in their gaps. He calls it “gap integrity.”

“We showed it,” Manuel said. “It’s happened. But the inconsistency...when you play a team that does ordinary very extraordinary, it shows up. We have to understand this is a great run team this week.”

The Falcons signed defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin and he’s slated to play against the Jets.

“(Dan Quinn) told me that’s the main reason they brought me here, they want me to stop the run,” Rubin said. “That’s what I do best.”

Rubin (6-foot-2, 310 pounds) was signed on Thursday, Oct. 19. The 10-year veteran was signed to bolster the interior of the defense which has been hit by injury.

“I wouldn’t say him by himself, but it definitely would help out,” Manuel said. “I think that’s one of the things that, as many guys that you can have in our Brotherhood on the interior to help out. Those guys…that rotation between those guys, it helps come the fourth quarter. He’s going to help from that standpoint.”

The Falcons lost defensive tackle Jack Crawford for the season with a biceps injury. Courtney Upshaw returned to action last week after missing nearly three games. Also, the Falcons cut former second round pick RaShede Hageman after his domestic violence case was settled.

Rubin spent seven years with the Browns, two with the Seahawks and played in two games for the Broncos this season.

Cleveland drafted him in the fifth round in 2008 out of Iowa State. He’s played in 132 NFL games, starting 107, with 413 combined tackles and assists, 15 sacks, six forced fumbles, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

Rubin was released by Denver Oct. 17.

Also, second-year linebacker De’Vondre Campbell is set to receive an expanded role in the Falcons defense.

Campbell is third on the team in tackles with 34. He also has two sacks, four passes defensed, two tackles for losses and a forced fumble.

“He’s a guy, coming into the season, that was on a mission not only from a pass-rush standpoint, improving his coverage skills,” Quinn said. “We’ll lean on that versatility.”

Campbell started at weakside linebacker as a rookie, but a high ankle sprain slowed his development.

He’s starting to blossom this season.

“I’m comfortable playing in space,” Campbell said. “I’m comfortable up on the line. I’m comfortable playing in coverage. There’s really nothing that I’m really like ‘oh, I’m not really comfortable doing this.’ I just feel good about everything.”

He worked with former Falcons and pass-rush coach Chuck Smith over the offseason.

“It definitely helped tremendously,” Campbell said. “To work with somebody who’s been a pass rusher and has the blueprint. It has helped out being able to get some tips and being able to work with him this offseason. It’s contributed a lot to my improved pass rush.”

The Falcons can drop Campbell in coverage from his strongside spot and our they can send him off the edge. That explains his two sacks and four passes defensed.

“He put the time in outside of the building working on his pass rush moves,” Manuel said. “When you put the time in, you’re going to get better. That’s what you’re seeing from him in Year Two. (He) can see that he’s not only play at this level, but he has a skill-set he can utilize on a weekly basis.”