When New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith hit the Atlanta Falcons with a game-winning scoring drive in Week 5, Falcons safety William Moore walked away saying the defense made Smith look like a 10-year vet.
Surely Moore and the defense don’t want to have a repeat of that pathetic showing. So expect the Falcons not to overlook Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie quarterback Mike Glennon, as they seemed to do against Smith.
"Geno came in and played great like he did, and it lets us know rookies can come in ... don’t say [Glennon] can’t come in and beat a good Atlanta Falcons defense, because Geno did it," Moore said. "We’ve got to respect him like he’s a veteran."
Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan went as far as to compare Glennon to a young Matt Ryan. Moore agreed with his coach’s assessment.
"No, seriously, he looks like a young Matt," Moore said. "Matt played awesome when he first got into the league, and that reminds you of their quarterback.
"[Glennon] is following his keys. You can tell he knows where he’s going with the ball and he’s following through with it. He’s not second-thinking it. He’s more mobile than people think. He looks good, man."
The same can’t be said about the Falcons' defense. Through five games, the Falcons rank 26th in the league in pass defense and 25th in scoring defense. The Falcons have surrendered eight plays of 40-plus yards. And on third down they are the league's worst, allowing opponents to convert 50 percent of the time.
Despite those numbers, Moore is confident the defense can make an impact for a 1-4 Falcons team.
"They say defense wins games. We're going to put in on our shoulders," Moore said. "The] offense has been doing their thing for the past few weeks. We have to step in and finish ballgames."
Getting after Glennon would be a good start. Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano praised his rookie for showing poise since taking over for the exiled Josh Freeman. Sunday will mark Glennon's first road game as the starter. He is likely to have two big, physical receivers to throw to in Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, plus a capable tight end in Tim Wright.
"He’s a tremendous student of the game, physically gifted, disciplined, competitor -- all the things that you look for in a quarterback,’’ Schiano said of Glennon. "He’s a rookie, so there’s going to be that growing process. But he’s fun to coach. He’s fun to be involved with during games. And I look forward to him doing big things as well.’’