4. The Reality Is, these players have to step up.
While much of the responsibility for the defense’s slow start rests on the coaches, a significant portion still rests with the players. It’s ultimately on them to find a way to honestly assess their substandard performance as a unit and come together to play up to their talents. When guys like Baldy and Marcus Spears are calling you out as a unit, you probably aren’t giving it your best play in and play out. You can bet these men have seen these breakdowns, and it sure should have an effect on their effort this Sunday.
Prediction: Matt Ryan is a statue…but he’s a savvy statue, so while some fans expect a dominant performance by the defensive line, I am not ready to predict that. There may not be better results on Sunday from the defensive front…but there will be better hustle and a greater sense of desperation. Look for Allen, Sweat, Young, Payne to play with particular passion Sunday. A unit led by Jon Allen and Chase Young isn’t going to be allowed to play scared and lazy two weeks in a row.
Also, look to see how many counter moves these four throw this week. With how poorly they have finished their rushes, both individually and as a group so far this season, I expect them to show some individual creativity and fight to every whistle.