The Falcons played a lot of their 3-4 defensive alignment against the Vikings in the season opener last week.
There were some major adjustments for middle linebacker Deion Jones and defensive ends Takk McKinley and Vic Beasley. Jones has to share the middle of the defense with DeVondre Campbell. McKinley and Beasley were standing up as outside linebackers.
“Even in our 4-3 alignment we had a lot of 3-4 feel to it,” linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich said this week, as the Falcons prepare for their home opener Sunday night against the Eagles. “We also kind of had a four-eye or a 5-technique which is very 3-4-like.”
Jones, who normally leads the Falcons in tackles, only had five against the Vikings. Defensive tackle Tyeler Davison led the unit with eight tackles.
“He hasn’t made a whole lot of adjustments,” Ulbrich said of Jones. “The biggest adjustments have been for the outside guys and their ability to be in two-point (stances) instead of three-point (stances) and ramping up their vision.”
The Vikings got most of their 172 yards rushing running outside and McKinley and Beasley failed to contain the runs or “set the edges” in the Falcons nomenclature. Also, Adrian Clayborn played some outside linebacker.
“We really believe we have the players and we are trying accentuate their strengths,” Ulbrich said. “We are just trying to put them in the best position to be successful.”
The Falcons don’t believe the ends had too big of an adjustment to play outside linebacker.
“Takk did it in college, so for him probably not a huge adjustment,” Ulbrich said. “For Vic, he’s played backer here on and off the entire time that he’s been with us. So, it’s not a huge adjustment for him as well. Probably for AC, it’s been the biggest adjustment. He’s the guy who’s been in the three-point the most over his career.”
McKinley had four tackles, Beasley had three and Clayborn had one against the Vikings.
“It’s a little bit of a work in progress, but in the midst of the darkness and it was dark on Sunday, I get it,” Ulbrich said. “What a horrible feeling, but there were some bright spots.”
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