• Whether it's man coverage or the reliable Cover 3, Seattle's defensive calls will come down to how to best contain Julio Jones
By Andy Benoit
November 20, 2017

Previewing Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football...

1. How will the Seahawks scheme for a loaded Falcons offense? Coordinator Kris Richard now plays more meaningful snaps of man coverage than zone, but with Richard Sherman out for the season, Richard doesn’t have a corner who can reliably match up to Julio Jones. And so Richard’s calls may come down to whatever coverage structure he feels most readily doubles Jones. Maybe that’s man-to-man, with safety Earl Thomas, an excellent robber, swooping across the middle of the field to take away Jones’s lethal crossing routes. Or, maybe it’s that ol’ reliable Cover 3, where the doubles on Jones come from inside and underneath. One thing the Seahawks might consider is to wait for the Falcons to show their formation (and Jones’s location) and then have their centerfielder, Thomas, make the call from there. 

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2. The Atlanta defense will still feature plenty of condensed formations with wide receivers aligned inside the field numbers. Generally, that’s to set up the play-action game, but this season, there hasn’t been the same harmony between Atlanta’s rushing and passing attacks. Relatedly, the Falcons have had fewer explosive plays. That must change Monday night; your best chance against a fast, experienced defense like Seattle’s is through deceptive play designs. 

3. There’s only one question a defense must answer when facing Seattle: how do you defend Russell Wilson? Most teams play zone in order to keep eyes on the quarterback. But like Richard, his Seahawks successor, Falcons coach Dan Quinn has grown fond of man coverage over the past two years. When Quinn plays man coverage he usually keeps two safeties deep and spies the quarterback behind a three-man rush. If he does that, the spy will likely be defensive end Vic Beasley, given that the other option, linebacker Deion Jones, always covers the running back in that 2-deep man coverage.

Bold Prediction: Falcons cornerbacks Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford and Brian Poole can all match up to Doug Baldwin, one of the league’s most unique and challenging receivers. They’ll keep Baldwin under 40 yards.

Score Prediction: Falcons 27, Seahawks 20