Not even going to pretend to be objective in this one because it was so truly horrific. Many of us may be labeled “fatalists” or “negative nellies” and frankly, that’s fine. The Falcons played one of their worst games of football under the new regime. No point in going over the general details because the score speaks for itself……….
Where does this embarrassing excuse for football game rank in your Falcons memory? It may not be the worst performance in history, but coming on the heels of the Debacle in the Dome, this Collapse in Chicago could be a bad omen for the season. There’s a difference between blind loyalty and not calling it like you see it. Frankly put, this one of the worst games this team has played under the Coach Smith regime. A team and coaching staff that prides itself on staying calm and collected completely unraveled and seemed sophomoric and absolutely outclassed. Kind of like the last game they played in the playoffs.
Even the most hardcore loyalists were probably shaken by the debauchery that took place in Chicago. Every team has bad games, but sometimes trends start to emerge. The overall track record for Smith is outstanding, but the last two games that have been played the Falcons have been absolutely dominated. Anyone looking for any solace won’t find any with the Eagles and Packers coming to town in the next month. Sure its just one game, but the magnitude of awfulness that was on display was staggering. Maybe it was just another bad game on top of the other bad game, but the Eagles coming to town may strike a trend.
The rookie phenom burst onto the scene in 2008 and one thing that made him so good was his lack of fear to try and throw the ball. Maybe it is mostly offensive coordinators fault, but Ryan also has to deserve some of the blame as well. He looked like a rookie against the Bears and gave the deer-in-headlights look. He was beaten to a pulp by the Bears defense, but he seemed scared to even take a shot and appeared obsessed with checking down. We won’t truly know what Ryan holds until you see him with another coordinator, but it appears judging from game 1 that he has regressed in this offense. That fumble he had that essentially ended the game was one of his worst plays of his career.
Did Harvey Dahl and Todd McClure make that much of a difference on the Falcons offensive line? It certainly appears that way. Matt Ryan had a really bad day all on his own, but the offensive line surely didn’t help him out either. Ryan was hit 14 times, sacked 5, and hurried 8 times. Granted, the Bears will be one of the toughest defenses they’ll face all year, but they looked outright pathetic against them today. Better regroup in a hurry because the Eagles defensive line is coming to town, the Bucs new talented line, and the Packers soon after that. Ryan won’t make it through the end of the season if they play like they did today.
Was this the Green Bay playoff blowout or our 2011 season opener? Couldn’t tell the difference. Tackling was atrocious, players took bad angles, 3rd down conversions were as easy as baking cakes, multiple interceptions were dropped, several sacks were missed, and the defense made Cutler look like an All-Pro and even the backup running back looked like a stud, much less Matt Forte. Even the Falcons usually stout run defense was awful. If Brian Van Gorder wasn’t on the hot seat, you would have to think he is now. Just a really terrible defensive showing against a team not supposed to have a good offense. Mularkey has seen the vast majority of the ire from fans in terms of coordinators, but that would probably be shifting here very soon. The Sean Weatherspoon arm shove on Matt Forte, essentially helping him into the end zone, will go down as one of the worst missed tackles by any player on any team in the 2011 NFL season.
If Mike Smith and his coaching staff were in the marketing business, they would be firmly bankrupt by now. They chose the word “explosive” as their off-season improvement slogan. The only thing explosive today were the two sacks by John Abraham, the awesome interception and touchdown return by Kroy Biermann, and the multiple explosions on Matt Ryan’s helmet. Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Harry Douglas = Zero Offensive Touchdowns. Same old, same old from Mularkey: dink, dunk, checkdown, and a staggering inability to counter an aggressive defense. Did they mean “implosion” instead of “explosion?”
Still and issue and boy did it look real bad today. Would love to have a stat on the amount of tackles that were missed today. The players are to blame, but when it happens with that many players that often, there’s no other conclusion to reach other than they were severely under prepared. This has been an issue since Smith took over this team and it was put on display in a ferocious way in Chicago.
This was the exact tagline from the post after the Jaguars game. This has been one of the absolute biggest problems since Mike Smith and Brian Van Gorder took over this defense. There’s simply no more excuses for the level of ineptness on this. On one of the big 1st down conversions on 3rd down in the 1st quarter, John Abraham was literally dropped 15 yards downfield in coverage. On another 3rd and long, there were 3 rushers, 8 in coverage and Johnny Knox easily slipped in to that soft cheese, insanely weak zone. Just inexcusable any way you look at it. No one expects the Falcons to win every 3rd down battle, but improving over the current 10% success rate would be a good start.
Penalties, dropped passes, dropped interceptions, missed tackles, missed sacks, personal fouls, failure to fair catch near the end zone, fumbles, and the list goes on and on. You can’t expect to win many games when you have 3 turnovers, regardless of how much talent you have. For a team and coaching staff that prides itself on limiting turnovers, they pulled a 180 today.
For a player on the hotseat, Thomas DeCoud did himself absolutely no favors today. He dropped two easy interceptions that hit him directly in the hands and may have helped change the game, missed tackles, and was yet again a step behind way too many plays. James Sanders started a lot of games for the New England Patriots and could be getting a call if DeCoud continues his current level of play.
Even the eternal optimists get a little nervous after games like this. It would be easy to chalk this one up to “just a bad game” if the Falcons weren’t coming off the “Debacle in the Dome” and the future doesn’t get any easier. Mike Smith just got a much-deserved new contract and will be safe for a while, but games like this sure do take up a lot of that goodwill he’s built up. The great thing about a Smith coached Falcons team is that they so rarely have games like this, but today you never got the feeling the Birds would mount a serious comeback. The old cliché is that NFL stands for Not-For-Long. Are the problems against the Bears just a bad game or are serious cracks in the foundation beginning to appear? The next 4 games will really define that. Most fans surely didn’t predict a loss in Chicago, and definitely not a blowout that occurred. Coach Smith better get it together in a hurry.
Analyze the Collapse in Chicago if you dare………..