Sports Minute: Falcons' secondary looks to avoid same mistakes vs. Cowboys
By GEORGE HENRYAP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Falcons defensive coordinator Raheem Morris blames himself for last week’s loss to Seattle.
Morris vows he won’t make the same mistake this week against quarterback Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys.
Morris said his game plan called for a prerequisite on stopping the run and didn’t credit Russell Wilson, one of the NFL’s top QBs, enough in the passing game. Wilson completed 31 of 35 passes for 322 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a stellar 143.1 passer rating.
“We stayed one-dimensional,” Morris said. “We didn’t give them a good enough look, a good enough presentation, and a lot of that I put it on myself. I gave these guys a little too much credit in the run game and not enough credit in the pass game, and they absolutely beat us.”
Morris wants to make sure he lets his secondary disguise coverages better when the Falcons (0-1) visit Dallas (0-1). Prescott, like Wilson, is adept at keeping plays alive with his feet, throwing on the run and not getting rattled when moved off his spot.
“We were able to physically affect the quarterback, hitting him (10) times, getting (three) sacks,” Morris said. “What I did not do, solely on me, is I didn’t give the guys the ability to affect the quarterback mentally. Some of our disguises wasn’t what it needs to be in order to win a game like that. I didn’t give those guys enough credit to beat us in the pass game, and he absolutely did.”
Cornerback Isaiah Oliver learned a big lesson, too. The third-year veteran was beaten for a 38-yard touchdown pass that defined the loss. Oliver was in man coverage against D.K. Metcalf when Wilson dropped back to pass on fourth-and-five. He blames faulty footwork as the reason Metcalf scored so easily on a go route.
“It was definitely a technique issue,” Oliver said. “I kind of drop-stepped with my left foot, which is going to kind of put me behind the receiver immediately. The hands part of it was fine. I wasn’t really worried about that, but it’s just with the feet I have to move more at a 45 (degree angle) instead of drop-stepping and opening up like that.
“When you do that with a good receiver, you’re always going to be a couple of yards behind on any route that he runs. That’s kind of what happened there.”
Oliver knows the Falcons’ secondary faces a stout challenge against a Dallas receiving corps comprised of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb.
“It’s definitely going to be a tough matchup, but I feel like we can get ready for that,” Oliver said. “... We’ve kind of got the scheme we want to run against them and the idea that we have. So we feel good.”
Morris liked what he saw in A.J. Terrell’s NFL debut. Terrell, a first-round draft pick from Clemson, played all of the defense’s 62 snaps.
“I thought the guy played pretty well,” Morris said. “You’re talking about a rookie who’s out there playing hard, playing fast, playing physical. He went throughout the day and played some sticky coverage on some really good wideouts. He stood up in some really big moments. He gave up a big play on a four-minute drive where he was taking a shot at jumping a ball. I can’t blame him. In that moment, if he makes that play it’s a big-time play for us.”
Terrell is taking to heart Morris’ mantra that it’s OK to make mistakes as long as you don’t keep repeating them.
“That’s also what they’ve been preaching to us as a defense and as a unit, as a whole team," Terrell said. “Just not making the same mistake twice and just getting the things corrected and just going out there next time, being alert for it and making a play when it comes."
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