All the media-elite-talking-heads should be ecstatic, the Falcons finally lost and they lost to everyone’s favorite darlings, the hated Saints. But hey, it’s only the regular season and, as we all know, the regular season doesn’t matter, right? The late game magic finally ran out and, frankly, the Birds deserved to lose. They started fast, blew way to many opportunities, and allowed the Saints to dictate the entire game, save the last quarter. Even Falcons fans and Bird Cage members knew they’d lose at some point, but it just had to be to the Bountygate Saints. A look at the Falcons first loss……….
The Falcons couldn’t have asked for any better start to the game. They had some big plays, scored on their first drive, and literally intercepted the first play of the hated Saints. Even though there was a shadow, garbage penalty on Asante Samuel for “excessive celebration,” the Falcons bogged down and settled for a field goal. Sure, it was points, but the chance to go up 14-0 was definitely a wasted opportunity. After a hot start, the Falcons evidently went back into conservative mode where Drew Brees had enough time to bake a cake and do his taxes and the offense was hell bent on running Turner through a brick wall and taking losses on first down. It looked as though the game may get out of hand until the defense finally found a way to stop the hated Saints and the offense pulled themselves out of their hyper-conservative funk. Fact is, the Falcons had been living on borrowed time with their comebacks, and that magic finally ran out.
Ryan had a career high with 402 yards and 3 touchdowns and yet the Falcons offense always finds a way to bring it back to Turner. This is a new day and it’s a new Falcons team. Michael Turner has done a magnificent job for the Falcons since he’s been here and may be on a track for the Falcons Ring of Honor, but his time has passed. Not sure whether it’s Smith or Koetter, but the truth is that most times when Turner gets the ball instead of Ryan, it’s usually not as good. This doesn’t mean that the Falcons have to throw the ball 50 times every game, but at some point, Ryan should be allowed to do what Brady, Manning, Rodgers, and Brees do with their teams.
For the longest time fans were able to blame Brian Van Gorder and by extension Mike Smith. Well, we have one of the best coordinators in the game and it’s true that Sean Weatherspoon was surely missed, but the Falcons don’t have much of anything in terms of rushing (or even disrupting) the quarterback. Drew Brees had enough time to cut the grass, do the dishes, and plan his Bountygate party in the pocket on Sunday. The Falcons mustered one sack, but rarely was pressured whatsoever. The defense stepped up some in the second half, but overall it was another pitiful display by the defense in pressuring the QB. Fans no longer know whether it’s the defensive tackles, the defensive ends, the linebackers, or the scheme to pressure the QB. They were sent on bltizes on Sunday, but most times they looked pedestrian and were easily picked up. John Abraham is the lone exception and how long does it take to get him some help. This did not look like the defense who confused and stymied Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers at all. Somethings got to give with the defense and lack of pressure.
This is not a hatchet job on Michael Turner. The guy has done wonders for this franchise and likely will get a look at the Falcons Ring of Honor, but fans can easily see and call a wasted play coming on first down to Michael Turner. Given first and goal and a chance to go ahead in the game, the Falcons predictably go to Turner (as they always seem to do) to not only a stop, but a loss on the play. It was brought up in the offseason whether or not Turner fits in the offense and it becomes painfully clear every single week that giving the ball to Turner on first down is a wasted play. It’s not necessarily his fault, but seeing undrafted Chris Ivory run like a man possessed makes Turner seem like relic on the Falcons offense.
This is not meant to be slam against Dominique Franks, but the punt return game has become nothing more than catching the punt with a fair catch and surely is not threat to return it and get some yards. Perhaps Eric Weems was undervalued after all (this author admits). Dominique Franks had a blast on the scene in preseason with his dynamic punt return for a touchdown, but ever since he seems tentative at best and weak at worst at returning punts. The Birds put Harry Douglas back at punt returner with the game on the line and he offered little more.
The Falcons deserved to lose. Period. But of course this will come off as sour grapes and may have not made a difference in the grand scheme, but there were some pretty bad calls in New Orleans, a city known for it’s penultimate honesty (Bountygate’s the same as the Iraq War, right Brees?). There was the first part of the game and the “excessive celebration” that Fox never showed. Antone Smith evidently made a penalty on special teams, also not shown at all on Fox. There was the catch that Harry Douglas made as we all saw on tape, but they couldn’t overturn because the initial call was botched to Hades. Again, the Falcons deserved to lose, but the calls all seemed to go the Hated Saints way.
This is not meant to be a hatchet job on Michael Turner. It really isn’t. Turner has been a rock, a stud, and one of the main reasons that the Falcons have been one of the most consistent teams in the National Football League. The argument is always that Turner isn’t very good because the offensive line is so bad. That is an accepted truth with Falcons fans. We all know how poor the OL is. It’s been that way ever since Bill Fralic and Mike Kenn retired. However, one needs to take one look at Saints running back Chris Ivory and the way he runs the football and how Michael Turner runs. Ivory was an undrafted free agent and ran like a man possessed against the Falcons, running tough, delivering blows, refusing to go down, and generally carrying the ball with force. Flip over to Michael Turner and you see the exact opposite. Turner has never seemed to fit in this offense and evidently Coach Smith is afraid of upsetting Turner because after he seemed frustrated with his lack of carries (and subsequent production), Smith and Co. have been committed to giving him the ball regardless. Again, it’s not a hatchet job on Turner, but the fact is that Turner is the exact opposite of dynamic.
Even though the media elite are salivating over the Falcons loss and their emphasis that these are the “same old Falcons,” the coaching staff have control over that. Although they seem to overdramatize the Birds issues on the offensive line and running game, they do have a point. The Falcons had woeful losses last season and in the playoffs because they couldn’t muster a few yards. That point couldn’t be any more true, but it can be broken down into a few areas. Albert Einstein said that “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” is the definition of insanity. The Falcons have changed only one thing in moving Peter Konz to right guard (only after Garrett Reynolds was injured) on the offensive line from last year’s OT debacle to the hated Saints and Meltdown in the Meadowlands. Why did fans expect anything different? After a supposedly “open competition” in the offseason, the offensive line looked exactly the same. Some were holding onto a new “OL coach and new offensive coordinator” in making all the difference. Please. Same goes for the running back situation.
Thomas Dimitroff hasn’t done a great job of drafting offensive linemen or invested hardly anything in the running back corps, but he did draft two potential-laden OL and it took Garrett Reynolds getting injured to get Peter Konz in the lineup. For all the talk of other running backs getting looks, that’s become a distant memory. It’s the Turner show and all others are lucky to get scraps. Jacquizz Rodgers has shown he can run the ball and we all know that Snelling can too. Antone Smith has speed, but is never seen. After seeing the Saints plug in a new offensive lineman at right tackle and bring up their 4th or 5th running back to look fantastic (Ivory), the Falcons seem stuck in their same old, same old. There’s evidently a refusal to make many changes on the Falcons offensive line or in the backfield, so Albert Einstein’s looking pretty correct.
The same defense that held a slew of quarterbacks in check and forced Peyton Manning into three interceptions in the first half, looked just as pedestrian as any Falcons defense that’s lined up in recent years. The Falcons produced no pass rush whatsoever, only mustering one sack and never pressuring Brees at all. How many times will defenses allow elite QBs to pick them apart. Great teams and defenses have proven that pressuring the quarterback is the only way to knock them off their game. While it wasn’t quite reminiscent of the Debacle in the Dome seeing Aaron Rodgers pick apart the defense, it wasn’t far off. Not only that, but tackling was as bad as it ever was under Brian Van Gorder. That long TD run by Ivory has to go down as one of the worst defensive meltdown plays in Falcons franchise history and completely jumpstarted a struggling Saints team. After being so creative with his multiple and different looks, Nolan’s defense was a mirror image of it’s failed soft-zone predecessor. Why not try William Moore in some linebacker looks, for instance. The Falcons defense of old was not good, and especially not good against the Saints. The thought was that Mike Nolan was supposed to change all that.
A word of advice to Falcons faithful would be to tune out the MTV Sports, Entertainment Tonight Media Elite for the next few weeks. They finally got everything they wanted: the Falcons lost, they’re overrated, they should be 1-8 instead of 8-1, the Bountygate Saints are back on top, and it’s the “same old Falcons” as everyone always says. Too bad Mary Hart and Mario Lopez can’t give their opinions on the NFL, football, and those terrible, overrated Falcons.
1) Simple Sack – how bad of a loss is this: just a loss or a reason to believe the Falcons are the worst team in the NFL?
2) At what point did you get a bad feeling on the game? How tough was blowing a good start?
3) Is this Michael Turner or Matt Ryan’s team? Are there still handcuffs on Ryan?
4) Please, please help fix this anemic pass rush.
5) Why has the Falcons pass rush remained so terribly poor?
6) How about those Turner playcalls right up the gut?
7) Anyone else at punt returner?
8.) Thoughts on the Mercedez-SuperDome officiating?
9) Please explain the Curious Case of Michael Turner.
10) Has Albert Einstein pegged one Coach Mike Smith?
11) What happened to Mike Nolan and his defense? Yikes
12) Promise yourself a prize if you can ignore the MTV Sports / Entertainment Tonight media-elite-talking-heads-experts for a few weeks………..or maybe ever.