Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan isn’t going to give out his game plan in advance. But it’s pretty obvious what the Falcons need to do against the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday’s playoff game.
They need to blitz Russell Wilson often. I’m not just saying that because Wilson is a rookie coming into a loud and hostile environment. I’m saying that because the numbers say it’s a no-brainer for the Falcons to come after Wilson with extra pass rushers.
Let’s turn to ESPN Stats & Information for some support.
First off, although the Falcons used the blitz somewhat sparingly (relative to other teams) during the regular season, they had tremendous success with it. When sending at least five pass rushers, the Falcons allowed opponents to complete only 50.3 percent of their passes – a figure that put Atlanta at No. 3 in the league. Opponents completed 81 of 161 passes for 1,046 yards with four touchdowns, six interceptions and 11 sacks.
When the Falcons weren’t blitzing, the results were pretty ordinary. When sending four or fewer pass rushers, the Falcons allowed opponents to complete 256 of 390 passes (that 65.6 percent figure ranked No. 22 in the NFL) for 3,014 yards with 10 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and 18 sacks.
Now, let’s look at it from another angle. Wilson was far less accurate when he had to deal with the blitz. Against five or more pass rushers, Wilson completed 58.5 percent of his passes. When facing four or fewer pass rushers, Wilson completed 66.5 percent of his throws.