Defensive-minded Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn preaches tackling on a daily basis. The message still hasn't gotten through completely.
Quinn said the Falcons were in the "low-double digits" in missed tackles following Sunday's 23-17 win against the Chicago Bears. And he wasn't the least bit pleased.
"Tackles, we were disappointed in," Quinn said. "That's an area that we know we can improve. But to have that many, man, we were -- not going to say surprised by that -- but we were disappointed that it was that high.
"That caused some of the plays to get extended: a run that goes from 4 to 8 [yards] or a pass that gets hemmed up and then goes from 10 to 15 or 16. That part, we'll continue to work really hard at because we know we're a lot better tacklers than we put out (Sunday). But I always like to have a good challenge for us. That part is at the top of the list for this week."
Multiple tackling blunders on the same play led to 5-foot-6, 179-pound Bears running back Tarik Cohen breaking free for a 46-yard run to set up a score. Cohen reversed field, which naturally threw off the defenders. But defensive end Brooks Reed missed tackling Cohen for an 8-yard loss at the Bears' 20, and speedy middle linebacker Deion Jones missed Cohen down the sideline at the Bears' 42, allowing Cohen to pick up 28 more yards.
"I believe there were two on the long run," Quinn said of the missed tackles.
Then Cohen run set up a touchdown on a Wildcat play, when Cohen handed the ball to fellow running back Jordan Howard, who then sprinted to the right corner of the end zone for a 4-yard score. Cornerback Desmond Trufant was blocked off by Bears quarterback Mike Glennon on the play and took a poor angle off the block, which kept Trufant from stopping Howard short. Trufant also was plowed over by Cohen on a 19-yard, fourth quarter catch-and-run touchdown.
Falcons rookie third-round pick Duke Riley, who started at weakside linebacker in the base package, also had a few miscues. He was run over by Bears fullback Michael Burton on a short-yardage, first-down run, a play cleaned up by fellow rookie Damontae Kazee. Riley also twice missed corralling Cohen as the running back spun away.
"I thought, from a competitive standpoint, Duke really jumped off," Quinn said. "Were there some missed tackles? For sure. But we feel like (Riley and fellow rookie Takkarist McKinley) are really going to grow the more they play, and we're totally committed to doing that."
Cornerback Robert Alford, who made some nice plays on the ball, whiffed on an attempted tackle in the fourth quarter which led to Bears receiver Kendall Wright picking up 16 yards. Both safeties, Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen, missed tackles while trying to put big hits on Bears' tight ends, something they can't afford to do come Sunday night against a player like Green Bay's Martellus Bennett. The tight end, who was with the New England Patriots in 2016, was sixth in the league with 162 receiving yards after first contact last season.
And speaking of the Packers, the Falcons had better solve their tackling issues quickly. Containing Aaron Rodgers and his ability to extend plays is a task in itself. Wide receiver Randall Cobb, who missed both games against the Falcons last season, was fifth in the league with 165 receiving yards after contact despite missing three games. And running back Ty Montgomery had 34 rushing yards after contact in last week's win against Seattle despite rushing for just 54 yards total.
Brian Poole and Jones led the Falcons with seven tackles each against the Bears. Allen probably had the best tackle with an open-field takedown of Howard, and Neal and De'Vondre Campbell both had punishing hits for stops.
The Falcons need more of that Sunday night.