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Jaguars, Falcons try to improve pass rushing
Question of the Day
FLOWERY BRANCH, GA. (AP) - Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard moved his offense easily through the Atlanta Falcons’ defense.
Or maybe both teams are still trying to solve some of the problems that kept Jacksonville and Atlanta out of the playoffs last season.
Falcons coach Mike Smith thought his run defense was solid, but there are still too many gaps in zone coverage, and some players are too slow in their route progressions.
“We’ve been seeing the same type of routes from our offense for 31 practices and we’ve seen some different ones here over the last day and a half,” Smith said. “I think it’s good for us. Not only does it stimulate our players, but it stimulates our coaches in terms of how we’ve got to get our guys ready to go.”
Jacksonville and Atlanta ranked among the worst pass defenses last season. The Jaguars’ 14 sacks were a league low. Opponents completed 67.6 percent of their passes, second-highest in the NFL.
The Falcons allowed 55 completions of 20 or more yards, second-most in the NFC and fifth overall. Atlanta’s run and pass defense combined gave up the league’s highest percentage on third down at 45.3 percent.
Both the Jaguars and Falcons have attempted to upgrade their defensive lines over the past two offseasons.
Atlanta drafted tackle Peria Jerry 24th overall last year and chose Corey Peters in the third round this year. Jerry, however, has missed much of training camp after sitting out 15 games with a knee injury last year.
Jacksonville picked tackle Tyson Alualu 10th overall and used a third-round spot to take tackle D’Anthony Smith. However, Smith might not take a snap this season after an Achilles’ injury last week.
The Falcons and Jaguars also acquired help at linebacker to improve their coverage of curl routes, screens and other short passing attempts that can hurt a defense.
Atlanta drafted outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon 19th overall, and it will be no surprise if starts the season opener at Pittsburgh. Weatherspoon has impressed Falcons coaches since camp started.
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
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