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Atlanta Falcons bye week: Three things to work on

A 6-0 record is a great place to be, but there are still things the Falcons can work on.

Larry French

Bye week for the Atlanta Falcons has come at a perfect time. There's something to be said for keeping up momentum, but with the dangerous Philadelphia Eagles after the break it's a nice time for Atlanta to charge their batteries, take stock of their position, and be ready for the second-half push in this 2012 season. These are three things the Falcons should work on before Philadelphia.

1. Tighten up the run defense

Mike Nolan's unit has looked good in 2012, but against the run the Falcons have struggled stopping the run. Allowing 5.2 yards per carry, Atlanta rank 31st in the NFL-- only the Buffalo Bills are worse in this regard.

If Corey Peters is able to return it will make a huge difference, but as it stands the lack of run-stopping isn't a major concern for the Falcons, with only the New York Giants presenting a serious threat on the ground.

2. Lean on Michael Turner more

In year's past the idea of putting more on Turner's shoulders was laughable-- he was the workhorse, and at times became too much the focal point of Atlanta's offense. In 2012, however, the Falcons have moved further away from utilizing Turner, likely out of fear the RB was breaking down.

Six games in, he's running the ball just 14 times per game-- down from an average of 19 times in 2011. Given Turner is running the ball well, it behooves Atlanta to give him the ball more often, and use that to work their play-action pass.

3. Another defensive end needs to step up

John Abraham has been stellar in 2012, but he needs help. Despite having 15 tackles, 6.0 sacks, and three forced fumbles on the year, his opposite, Ray Edwards, has yet to register a sack. This hasn't been a huge problem for the Falcons, as they have gotten consistent pressure from their defensive tackles, and a nice boost from Sean Weatherspoon, but in order to take their defense to the next level they'll need another defensive end to step up.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.