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Atlanta Falcons visit Clemson to prep for read-option

Few NFL teams faced the read-option more last season than the Atlanta Falcons. Few teams struggled more consistently against it.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton had two of his best games of the year moving the ball up and down the field against the Falcons, averaging 29 points in two games. The Falcons did a solid job against the Washington Redskins in the regular season but struggled to get stops in the playoffs against the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.

Like so many NFL teams this offseason, the Falcons now are looking for help from the college game. The Falcons' defensive staff recently spent a day at Clemson University to get some help.

"(The Falcons) are trying to learn more about what we do and how we defend what we do," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told the media Monday, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Yet we were able to take a lot from them as well. I'd be surprised if there's an NFL team that hasn't gone and spent time with college coaches this offseason."

The Falcons will face the 49ers and Seahawks next season and also will have two games against the Panthers. Coach Mike Smith wants to be more prepared.

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"I know that our coaching staff is going to spend a whole lot of time on it because it could be the wave of the future," Smith said. "I'm not saying that it will be, but that it could be."

Like any schematic trend, the read-option isn't simply going to stay the same from year to year. The Falcons will have to be ready for what comes next. NFL defenses still should be more prepared this time around.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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