The Falcons officially enter into the final push of the 2009 campaign with an extremely cold and frigid task up in New York against the red hot Jets. The Birds have had a penchant of playing tough and close this year against good opponents, but yet coming up short. The Falcons may not be playing the Saints or Eagles, but if the Falcons drop this one it will be a tough pill to swallow for fans. Meaning that the Birds are not only a part of the elite, but really aren’t a part of the second tier either. Should be a really interesting tell on whether the Falcons fight is for real or if the Saints loss was the end of the road. Let’s find out……..
Even though the Birds have been ranked near or at the bottom of every category in defense, they have improved a decent amount in stopping the running game. They have held many deadly combos under wraps and not allowed the teams to beat them on the ground. Thomas Jones is one of the best in the biz and Shonn Greene is a pretty amazing rookie. Can Anderson, Thomas Johnson, Babs, and maybe Trey Lewis or Vance Walker force Sanchez or Clemens to beat them?
Will Ryan play? Will Turner play? Will anyone who started for the Falcons in game one be out on the field against the Jets in NewYork? Chris Redman has filled in pretty nicely, Jason Snelling has shown flashes, but the injury list is growing unbearable. Injuries are no excuse, but at what point do you concede that its not your year with the avalanche of injuries that have occurred this year?
As has been mentioned before, the Falcons have done a good job of making the good, the bad, and the young look fantastic against them this year. The secondary has been beaten pretty much by everyone including the greats (Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Donovan McNabb), the good (Tony Romo), the young (Josh Freeman), and below average (Jake Delhomme). Mark Sanchez was on track for Rookie of the Year before his injury, so all signs point to a big game facing the Birds secondary. Yes, the Falcons did play “good” against Brees, but do they have to let every single QB get into rhythm and look like Unitas or Starr?
When Rex Ryan took over the Jets in his first year, the offense may have been a big question mark, but to have any doubt on his defense would be silly and best and egregious at worst. Ryan has built this team into the leagues best defense (statistically at least) in the NFL. In one year, the new head coach has transplanted the aggressive and tough defense from Baltimore to New York. Matt Ryan and Michael Turner have been practicing as of late, but this one would be a major test if the Falcons were 100% healthy. If Ryan and Turner can’t go, Redman, Snelling, and Coach Mularkey did a good job of mixing up the play-calling against an extremely aggressive Saints defense. Save for one play, the offense played fantastic and had a chance to win the game at the end. The Falcons need a repeat performance.
For the fans, how much are you still engaged? Are you a steel harbinger of breaking the Godforsaken curse? Or are the Falcons simply overmatched this year with all of their ridiculous injuries? Most Bird fans are looking forward to the last few games to see where this team is really headed, but many others may have bailed out after dropping under the .500 mark. Since the playoffs are over, has your interest level fallen off?
Only speaking from a very young ticket season holders point of view, but the Atlanta Falcons Organization should be ashamed of themselves in their outrageous ticket increases this year. The longtime season ticket holders obviously get the most relevance and importance on this issue since they’ve likely seen this before and it may be nothing new. But the Falcons decided to raise season tickets for the middle earners (cheap seats) over 40% in one season. No one needs a person who talks about sports to vouch, but so many people are hurting right now both emotionally and financially in this country to even afford the most basic things, much less an almost 50% increase. Put a 40% increase on tickets (which makes it the 19th consecutive year of increases…………economy be damned), take away most of the gameday parking, basically require you to purchase an almost $100 parking pass, and not to mention the concessions, and the Atlanta Falcons Experience needs to rethink their “Customer Service” policies. Many fans, and this author certainly included, loves their Falcons and always will, but to raise the prices so astronomically in this economic environment is unfortunate at best and insulting at worst. No new stadium to pay for and a team likely not going to the playoffs………….a good time to raise prices almost 50%.