(((((((((((( Technical Update)))))))))))))
Computer is still out of commission, so the posts will be a touch on the light side until the issues are resolved. Sooner, rather than later I hope.
The Falcons went into the Crescent City on Monday Night Football with no one in the world giving them a chance, including some of their own fans, but they played with a ferocity, toughness, and desire not seen much to this point in the season. The Falcons dropped another tough game, making that two in a row for the first time in the Coach Smith era, to the rival Saints. The Saints continue to put a stranglehold, not only on the NFC South crown, but also on the fight for the best record and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Falcons punched, took shots, and counter-punched the Saints to the very end, refusing to give in after a few huge miscues all but assured the blowout many were expecting. These Atlanta Falcons didn’t quit though, and they played arguably the best team in the NFL to the very end.
The argument rages on whether there is such a thing as “moral victories” in the NFL, and it seems to be pretty split with fans. But most can agree that this type of fight and intensity they brought on the national stage to one of the best teams is a huge building block for the future. The Saints are a better team, simply put, but they should be. This is Sean Payton’s fourth year in New Orleans and they should be twice as far along as the Falcons, but they almost lost one at home to a very young team full of heart. A few quick hits from the game:
1) Tye Hill Sighting - Yes, it finally came to pass on Monday Night Football, the long awaited appearance of Tye Hill after his trade from the St. Louis Rams way back in preseason. Hill seemed to play pretty well, making some nice stops and flying around the field. Brent Grimes did come in play well for the cramping Hill, but it was nice to see Hill get some reps and maybe we have something after all.
2) C’Mon Mike! - Michael Jenkins has certainly had his ups and downs as a Falcon, but many fans thought that the drops had passed after last year’s big year, but not so fast. Yes it was one drop, but it was a really big one that could have led to a different outcome. Jenkins dropped a wide open 3rd and 4 that could have made a big difference in the momentum of the game. Granted, Jason Elam should have made the FG, but a first down there keeps the drive alive in the red zone and keeps Drew Brees on the sideline. When looking at the Saints corps of receivers there is amazing depth behind their number one Marques Colston, but as Jenkins noted, not so much in Atlanta behind Roddy White. As Jon Gruden said, “Jenkins has to be a better complement to White.” Well, he’s in his sixth year.
3) Matty Not So Ice – Mark it down as official, Ryan is in a sophomore slump. He did have very many nice throws throughout the game, but the ones that fans remember are the big two picks: one ugly INT that seemingly lost the game near halftime, and the other that was the ultimate dagger in the Falcons upset chances. Granted, the second one was the result of a really nice play by Jonathan Vilma, but still throw the ball away and high if nothing else and come back for a 3rd down try. The other one was just terrible. The deep passing attack just isn’t clicking, whether it’s Ryan’s fear of throwing it deep or Coach Mularkey’s play-calling, the weapons are there to go long for the attack. There’s a reason for such a thing called the “Sophomore Slump” because all teams have had a year to scout and plan for tendencies, weaknesses, etc. and they make young QB’s pay for it. Statistically, Ryan is still way ahead of many other great QB’s in their second year and has one of the best work ethics of any QB, so he’ll get there, just some bumps along the way.
4) The Old Turner – Michael Turner had a great night, running like the back who was second in the NFL in rushing and made the Pro-Bowl a year ago. The O-Line and play-calling may have also been better, but the Burner gets all the credit on this one. He was running like a man possessed last night and just near willed his team to a victory with his tenacious running, hitting holes with speed and never stopping his legs. Turner reminded fans of just how explosive this offense can be if the running and passing ever get into full sync. Excellent performance all around from the running back.
5) Gritty Defensive Showing - More on this later in the week, but the defense showed up and played very well against the number one offense in the NFL. Defensive line added pressure a couple of times, and the linebackers had their usual good night, but the comeback award goes to the secondary. One of the most maligned in the NFL, the Falcons secondary showed up Monday night and played with a sense of urgency not seen in previous games. They held Drew Brees to his lowest passer rating of the year to date. True that they gave up many big plays, but from where they were a week ago to now, there was much improvement. Still a ways to go, but a solid performance against the best offense in football in their house. They kept the Falcons in the game when the offense sputtered a couple of times down the stretch.
A loss is a loss, but the way the Falcons played last night reminded many fans of the potential of this team and that the trajectory is pointed very high in the coming years. The Falcons did come up short in New Orleans, but they came with a passion and fight not seen in the other two losses, or a few wins for that matter, and gave the Saints everything they wanted. One of the hardest parts of the schedule is over and the Birds stand at 4-3, with so much to improve upon.
-Your thoughts on the loss: moral victory or still a loss?
-Help fix Matt Ryan: play-calling, typical second year, or thinking too much?
-Is Turner back, or just a flash?
-What’s up with Jenkins drops this year?
-Your thoughts on the defensive performance?
-Good cornerback play or just needed?
-Did Tye Hill impress you, or Grimes deserves the spot?
-Does DeCoud deserve game ball?