Despite no sacks vs. Browns, Falcons are itching to rev up pass rush

CLEVELAND -- At least twice against the Cleveland Browns, the Atlanta Falcons put pass-rushers Vic Beasley Jr., Takk McKinley, and Bruce Irvin on the field at the same time.

The speed rushers working in unison didn't exactly work in a 28-16 road loss, especially with the way Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield escaped pressure. But maybe the trio of rushers is something the Falcons can look forward to utilizing over the final seven games.

Irvin, who was released by the Oakland Raiders, signed this week a one-year contract with his hometown Falcons that is worth $1.5 million for the rest of the season. He played Sunday after only a couple of days of practice.

"It felt good, man," Irvin said. "Dreams come true, as I said earlier. It's unfortunate we couldn't get out of here with the win, but there's a long season to go still."

When Irvin first entered the game, he rushed off the right edge with Beasley coming off the left edge. Irvin recorded two tackles, including one first-quarter stop of Nick Chubb for no gain where he talked trash to the former Georgia running back. Later in the game, Beasley and McKinley rushed off the left edge and Irvin off the right on third-and-5, but Mayfield scrambled left and picked up 10 yards for the first down.

For the day, the Falcons didn't get credit for a sack or even a quarterback hit on Mayfield, although Brooks Reed got close on one play.

"I don't think we had enough opportunities, honestly," Irvin said. "They did a good job of switching it up. When we had our base personnel out there, and they were passing. And when we put our nickel group out there, they were running. They did a good job of mixing it up and keeping us off-balance."

Mayfield attempted 20 passes, completed 17 for 216 yards and three touchdowns. The Browns ran the ball 29 times for 211 yards, with Chubb accounting for 176 of those, along with his franchise-record 92-yard run for a score.

"I think they had a good scheme for us, a good game plan," Beasley said of the Browns. "We have to do better with transitional rushes. As far as the play-action, you have to be better with the transitional rushes. We're feeling like they're going to run the ball, but it's a play-action so you've got to transitional rush."

Said McKinley: "They got a huge lead on us. And from there, why do they need to pass the ball if they're up 28-10? You feel me? If you're up 28-10, I hope our offense wouldn't throw the ball. That's pretty much the reason why [there weren't more sacks]."

Stopping the run always is first priority, and it will be the same next week when the Dallas Cowboys come to town with Ezekiel Elliott. A matchup with Drew Brees and the streaking New Orleans Saints (8-1) on Thanksgiving night is all the more reason why the Falcons need to start generating more pass rush. Right now, they have only 17 sacks, which ranks near the bottom of the league.

Plus, enhancing the pass rush might take some of the pressure off of the Falcons' defensive backs, who have struggled in coverage of late.

Maybe that "NASCAR" package with McKinley, Beasley, and Irvin rushing all together, along with defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, will bring better success.

"I think it's a good luck, especially with the speed out there on the field," Beasley said. "On third-down packages, it can definitely cause some confusion for the offensive line with what side you want to slide to. It's like pick your poison. I think it's going to be good for us in the future. We just have to keep working."