Falcons run defense shows improvement

Atlanta's defense contained Philadelphia's how-powered offense, and running back DeMarco Murray, in a huge test.

How would Atlanta’s run defense do this season? That was one of the many questions entering the 2015 season. If Monday night’s game is any indication, the Falcons will be significantly improved at stopping the run.

Atlanta held Philadelphia to only 63 yards on the ground in the season-opening game, with star back DeMarco Murray getting only nine yards on eight carries, with his longest run for eight yards. Darren Sproles led the Eagles with 50 yards on five carries, with a 27-yard gain his longest.

Murray was brought in by Chip Kelly to be the workhorse back that would fit perfectly in Kelly’s offense. But the Falcons stymied Murray with quickness in the backfield. Philadelphia’s offensive line probably won’t grade out very high in spots, as Atlanta’s energy overpowered them to create havoc for Murray.

Paul Worrilow led Atlanta with 13 tackles (four assisted), William Moore had nine (two assisted), Ricardo Allen with seven (two assisted) and Justin Durant was very active with eight (four assisted).

The Falcons held opponents under 100 yards rushing just six times last season. Next week they’ll face the Giants, who ran for 99 yards Sunday night against the Cowboys. Rashad Jennings was their leading rusher with 52 yards on 13 carries.

The pass rush was not as impressive statistically, as the Falcons did not record a sack on Eagles’ quarterback Sam Bradford. But he was under pressure for most of the night, particularly in the first half when Atlanta’s defense set the tone for the game.

Rookie Vic Beasley batted down one passed ball and was consistently breathing down Bradford’s neck. Durant also caused issues for Bradford. The Falcons will have to do the same on Eli Manning Sunday in New York.

The secondary (particularly the safeties) played well Monday with two interceptions. William Moore got the first one, with Ricardo Allen picking off the crucial pass from Bradford late in the fourth quarter.

Listen to "The Bill Shanks Show" from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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