Computer cord crashed this past week, so the posts will be somewhat shorter than normal. As soon as the technical issues are resolved, we’ll be back at full strength and ready to roll.
The Falcons enter the national stage of Monday Night Football extremely heavy underdogs against the Saints. The Saints are the best team in the NFC, and arguably the best team in the NFL. They are coming off a huge comeback win against the Dolphins that found them down by 3 scores, showing they can storm back to win, along with their normal role of blowing opponents out. The Atlanta Falcons certainly enter on a different note, losing an ugly game in Dallas that saw Tony Romo have a field day on the secondary, the run game continue its ridiculously weak performance, Matt Ryan being sacked 4 times, and the offense again looking feeble, despite having so many weapons. Of course it’s early, but if the Falcons lose here, they fall 3 games behind the Saints and, assuming the Saints continue their success, might be forced into the wild-card hunt. A victory may not be in the cards, but the Falcons have got to show that they at least belong in the same paragraph as the Saints. Keep the faith though Falcons fans, because anything can happen on “Any Given Sunday” (Monday in this case). The Falcons have nothing to lose and can shock the NFL world by upsetting the hated Saints on Monday Night Football, and maybe a certain “treat” may be in order for Bird fans.
1) Can the Falcons secondary pull a miracle?
Pairing one of the worst secondaries in the NFL with the best passing offense might spell a very long day for the Falcons if they can’t get some good play out of the cornerbacks on the roster. The loss of Brian Williams has decidedly been a terrible loss for the Falcons. Falcons fans knew this would be the weakness after preseason, and now its obvious. Yes, the defensive line must help them out and get better pressure on the quarterbacks, but Houston and Grimes have a hard time covering digs, hitches, and short routes, much less deep routes. Enough talking, its time to see Chris Owens and Tye Hill. They may not hold the answers, but at least all doubt will be removed. A miracle is in order, and the Falcons will have to force the Saints to run the ball to win.
2) Can the Defensive Line get ANY pressure?
The defensive line seems to be boom or bust in terms of pressure. They were able to effectively pressure Chad Pennington, Shaun Hill, and Jay Cutler; but provided no worry whatsoever on Jake Delhomme, Tom Brady, and Tony Romo. The latter two being top-tier QB’s and making the Falcons pay, paving way for great days in the passing attack. True that the secondary situation is pretty horrid, but the defensive line deserves as much blame letting quarterbacks sit back in the pocket all day, pick apart the DB’s, and get into a great rhythm. Abraham and Biermann need to find their magic they possessed in those few games, Jamaal Anderson needs to stay at DT, and its time to put Lawrence Sidbury Jr. in a serious rotation rather than a few snaps here in there. Brees is one of the NFL’s best QB’s so he’s going to make plays, but the defensive line don’t have to make it easy.
3) Please rekindle the 2008 Falcons rushing attack
Being ranked second in the NFL in rushing seems ages ago. It has been a complete struggle for the Falcons all season to get anything going in the rushing attack. All parties deserve blame including Michael Turner, the offensive line, and Coach Mularkey’s play-calling. It is true that injuries have taken their toll on Ovie Mughelli and Jerious Norwood, which have made the Falcons pretty one-dimensional in their running game. Jason Snelling has been a bright spot and needs more touches. Aaron Stecker was signed in hopes of adding some speed to the rushing attack. Several fans have wondered why Thomas Brown’s phone didn’t ring since he added speed and a great knowledge of the playbook. Regardless of all those issues, its time to re-establish the rushing game, doing whatever it takes. The excuse of playing 3-4 teams has been proffered, but that’s the coaches job to figure out ways to run the ball, be it 3 back sets, reverses, stretch runs, or even the wildcat. Try something other than 1 and 2 yard dives. The offensive line needs to get their nastiness back, but the lion share falls at Michael Turner’s feet. It’s time for the former Pro-Bowler and $16 million dollar man to run harder and deliver the hits like last year, as opposed to bracing for impact and tip-toeing. The passing attack has its issues as well, but you have to run the ball to win in the NFL, just ask the Saints.
The Falcons go into the land of creole as huge underdogs and given absolutely no chance, but that’s the way you want it sometimes. Backs are against the wall and the character of team has even been called into question, so a hard-fought and gritty performance is due in New Orleans on Monday Night. Time to “trick” the Saints unbeaten record and “treat” the Falcons fans to a belief that this team can do great things THIS year!
-What’s your key match-ups?
-Shock the NFL World or be shocked into submission?
-Can the defensive line get any pressure on the streaking Brees?
-Will we finally see Tye Hill, Chris Owens, and more Chevis Jackson?
-Can Matt Ryan break out of his mini sophomore slump?
-Will Turner get back to his Pro-Bowl status? Can Aaron Stecker and Snelling be the spark needed?
-Will the receivers have a chance to stretch the field?