“It’s not always the easiest thing to do,” Pees said. “We struggled with some things. We’ve had some guys lining up late. We had an unusual number of missed tackles which killed us in the running game with 15 of them. And we haven’t had 15 in three games, usually.
In addition to the missed tackles, there were 11 missed missions.
“We were trying to change some things to try to get the best games possible,” said Pees. “But when you try to do that, it’s not the norm. It’s not what you’ve been practicing all year. You try to do it. Thinking that this is going to give you the best chance, but I don’t think it necessarily does. “
The Falcons have started well. Duron Harmon and Terrell had interceptions that led to a 15-14 halftime lead. Linebacker Foye Oluokun again knocked out Bills quarterback Josh Allen early in the third quarter to give the offense a chance to take a two-point lead.
“They didn’t hurt us in the passing game,” said Pees as Allen finished with a career-low 17 assist rating. “We have choices. We did some good things there.
But the Bills stepped up their rushing attacks and finished with 233 yards and four rushing touchdowns.
“It really hurt us in the racing game,” said Pees. “We ended up with bad race force situations on the edge. It has helped the guys to get out of position at times. Gave them bad angles. Made them miss tackles. It just wasn’t. … I’ve said in the past, I don’t like to do it, and I wish I hadn’t done it even in this one.
Terrell held off against Diggs, who was an All-Pro last season. He only caught five of nine targets for 51 yards.
“Matching AJ on Diggs wasn’t a problem. … I never felt like this was a problem, ”said Pees. “I mean, he grabbed a couple.”
In addition to Hall and Sheffield who were playing a lot, Shawn Williams was playing in free safety, with Jaylinn Hawkins on the reserve / COVID-19 list. Williams is a veteran, but hadn’t played much this season for the Falcons.
“Lots of new guys,” Pees said. “Even though we thought that might be the best way to do it, looking back, I don’t know if it was.”
Pees said the players, in the new rosters and positions, are lining up late
“Meanwhile, the ball is broken and running around the edge, and we don’t have anyone to help the defensive end,” said Pees. “You know, every time you try to help someone, you put another load on someone else.”
The Falcons couldn’t stop Allen in the running game. He finished with 81 yards and two rushing touchdowns. They will have a similar challenge from the Saints who lead quarterback Taysom Hill on Sunday.
“It was the most important focus in the game was taking care of the quarterback, and we didn’t,” said Pees. “We did it in the passing game. We didn’t do this in the racing game. We had the chance to sack him on a third and -8 to get out of the field on the first score. We should at least keep them in the basket if we don’t miss the tackle.
“I was just disappointed with the race (defense). Disappointed in myself just thinking about it just saying I know better. I tried to do this, and it didn’t work out very well.
Going forward, the Falcons will have two defensive priorities during the offseason.
“It’s not about learning the system now,” said Pees. “Now it’s being able to have the ability to play the men’s cover and actually be able to rush the passer without it being pressure. Those are the two things that need to improve next season.
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