Apologies for Length of Time Between Posts. Holiday season is upon us. Speaking of……..Happy Holidays to all of you and your Families!
The Atlanta Falcons looked as though they may lose another tough fought game as they’ve done many times throughout the year, but they showed an unbelievable determination in beating the gritty New York Jets in frigid Meadowlands Stadium. It wasn’t one of the prettiest games in Birds history, but considering the environment, weather, and eventual outcome, this game possibly could a springboard for future things to come. The offense was wholly unspectacular for most of the 58 and half minutes, but came up in the clutch when it mattered most. The defense had an excellent game (save for one play) and continued to give the offense tons of chances throughout the game. The Falcons showed some serious character in getting a really tough win against a pretty good team in a very difficult environment.
Grimes played a fantastic game filling in for injured Chris Houston, grabbing two interceptions in the game and holding the passing offense to a minimum on the day. After having his ups and downs, Grimes had an excellent day and has showed in two consecutive weeks that he brings more to the defensive table than Chris Houston has in quite some time. Granted, Mark Sanchez is a true rookie and had his challenges on the day, but give credit where its due, Grimes had a big day on tall receivers Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards. After being the most harangued group on the team, rookie Chris Owens and Brent Grimes appear to be the best cornerback combination of the 2009 campaign. Whether Grimes will be a starter in future seasons remains to be seen, but he almost certainly has proven that he will be a part of the Falcons secondary in some form.
Even though the offensive side of the ball stole the win at the end of the game, the defense should most all the credit for the win. Time and time again, the defense stood tough and kept the Falcons in the game while the offense sputtered for the entire time. Often times the offense either went three and out or only gained one first down in their drives. The Birds defensive unit held the NFL’s number one rushing offense to under 100 yards and held some really talented receivers in check. The defense has gotten the brunt of the blame for the Falcons travails this year, but they are the main reason for the Falcons having a chance at a winning season.
Matt Ryan was questionable up until game time, but showed little effects from the turf toe that kept him out the last two games. The starting quarterback certainly wasn’t perfect and showed a lot of rust in the passing attack, but he managed the game in not turning the ball over on a cold and windy day (same can’t be said of Mark Sanchez) and pulling the win in hitting his favorite target Tony Gonzalez. Even though the Falcons season hasn’t gone according to plan, Gonzo looks to be en route to yet another Pro-Bowl with a chance at 1,000 yards receiving (currently 820) and already six touchdowns on the year. On the game-winning throw and catch, the Jets were inexplicably in a soft zone that allowed Gonzalez to sit down on a dig route and was wide open. He made the catch as always does, and put an exclamation with his patented field goal dunk. Surely it felt good to Ryan after working through an injury riddled year with its share of lows.
The ugliest of wins are infinitely better than the prettiest of losses, but the Jets missed opportunities played an enormous part in the Falcons victory on Sunday. Rookie QB Mark Sanchez had a bad day in throwing 3 interceptions on the day. Credit goes to the defense for making the plays, but Sanchez made some bad decisions as well, particularly the first INT to Thomas DeCoud. The Jets missed three field goals as well, leaving 9 points on the field. One was a miss on a windy day, another was the result of a botched snap, and the final one was blocked by Chauncey Davis. The Jets defense played an excellent game and kept the Falcons in check for over 58 minutes, but their offense didn’t help them out very much at all. Like the Birds, the Jets are a young team that’s learning how to win the close the ones.
Hard to argue with a win and a defense that played lights out including 3 picks and 2 sacks, but the lack of pressure by the defensive line came up a good bit. John Abraham ended his streak of no sacks and Thomas Johnson collared in another, but the rookie Sanchez had ample time throughout much of the game. His rookie mistakes were a big part of the Jets offensive issues, but he did have time to throw for most of the contest. Which brings up a good point: which position needs upgrading more, defensive end or defensive tackle? Abraham had an all-star year last season, but has struggled a good bit in 2009. Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury Jr have talent but are both very green. Has Jamaal Anderson moved to defensive tackle permanently? Chauncey Davis has proven to be a solid backup, but hasn’t made transition to super-starter. DT is much more unsettled with Peria Jerry expected back from a big injury, Jonathan Babineaux expected to be suspended for at least four games, and whether or not Trey Lewis has returned to his rookie form. Thomas Johnson has the heart of a lion, but does he add much more than Anderson or Peria Jerry? Vance Walker has played very well as a 7th round draft pick, but is future starter or good rotation? The upcoming draft looks to be stockpiled with defensive line talent, so which needs more help: DE or DT?
Home-Field Advantage, 13-1
1st Round Byes, 12-2
Ed, Seminole, FalconsforLife, DW, JJ
Division Winners, 11-3
Jonathan, MRyan, Russ, Warbucks, Brian Hunt, sportaree, Sarah B., CBrass
Wild Card Spots, 10-4
D3, Chris, Joseph R., WR, Lil’ Dave, Nookah, tbird, A.Dylan Thomas
In the Hunt, 9-5
Dean21, Boxcarar, Birdman
Struggling for Postseason, 8-6
Black Talon, downsouthdirtybird
Out Like our Birds, 7-7
With Jason Snelling proving to be a solid number two back to Michael Turner, will Jerious Norwood be suiting in red and black in 2010? Snelling certainly doesn’t have Norwood’s blazing speed to complement Turner, but he has shown to be much more reliable and runs really hard between the tackles. Snelling has also proven to be extremely versatile in the passing game as well. Should the Falcons look to keep #32, with the possibility of getting him for a bargain, and use the draft picks in much more needed areas? Or should they be willing to spend a draft pick (later round perhaps) on a new speedy complement to Turner and Snelling?