NEWARK – There is one thing that is becoming clear as the Falcons hit the .500 mark.
Teams with above average to great quarterbacks are going to feast on the secondary.
Falcons coach Mike Smith won’t single out the secondary, but tighter and more instinctive coverage would probably get more passes batted down or defense.
“We gave up a lot of passing yards,” Smith said. “That’s very obvious. Way too many passing yards. It’s team defense. It’s not just the secondary. It’s a combination of the secondary, linebackers and defensive (linemen). We’ve got to make plays on third down. We continue to struggle on third down. It’s a combination of a number of things. But we can not give up, those type of yards in the passing game and expect to have the success that we want to have.”
The Falcons have been beaten by Tom Brady (277 yards passing), Tony Romo (311), Drew Brees (308), Jake Delhomme (195) and Eli Manning (a career-high 384). (Brady, Delhomme and Manning have started in Super Bowls).
The Falcons have beaten Chad Pennington, Delhomme, Shaun Hill, Jay Cutler and Jason Campbell.
If this “good quarterback” theory holds up, the Falcons will be in trouble against Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb and Brees and the Saints. They should be OK against Josh Freeman (twice), Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick. If this hold up, the Falcons are headed for a 9-7 record which would snap the 44-year curse. However, that will not likely get them into the playoffs.
THE SECONDARY WOES: The secondary was exposed in the preseason by Philip Rivers and more importantly by Baltimore reserve John Beck.
The Falcons signed Brian Williams, but he suffered a knee injury and is on injured reserve. They traded for former first round pick Tye Hill, who received a shot, but got a quick hook against Carolina last week and did not even grace the field against the New York Giants.
The Falcons had opportunities to address the problem.
ABRAHAM SPEAKS UP: Defensive end John Abraham has not had a full sack since the San Francisco game in Week Four. He has just 3.5 sacks after racking up a franchise record 16.5 last season.
He had a quarterback hit against Eli.
“The D-line has to do a better job of getting (Manning) down,” Abraham said. “The pressure was good, but we weren’t getting him down. If we get him down, you don’t have to worry about that stuff (the passing yards).
Q & A WITH BRENT GRIMES
Q: How can you all tighten things up in the secondary?
A: “Just do the fundamentals. Do our techniques and make plays when we have the opportunity.”
BAKER PLAYED STRONG: Left tackle Sam Baker returned to the lineup and appeared to have a strong game.
“It was not the outcome that we wanted,” Baker said. “We fought hard until the end. It’s just frustrating right now, but I came out OK.”
The offense was proud of how they rallied in the second half.
“It’s huge,” Baker said. “We had a chance to show some character at the end, just to get back in the game and put ourselves in position to win it, was huge for us.”
COIN TOSS BLUES: Matt Ryan called tails in overtime. The ref dropped the coin, picked it up and then flipped. Ryan didn’t now if it was tails on the drop.
“If we would have got that ball, things would have been different,” Tight end Tony Gonzalez said. “That’s the way the luck strikes. You have to give them credit. They took the ball, which you would think that . . . the team that gets that coin toss gets the ball and they usually win. That’s what happened.”
Ryan was not kicking himself for not calling heads.
“Those are the rules,” Ryan said. “You can’t be frustrated with the system.”
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