Goodness gracious. This is one of those games that sees the Falcons win a game they shouldn’t even been close. How can a team turn the ball over 6 times and still win a game? Well, the Falcons found a way to do it. A win is a win is a win, but if the Falcons play like they did today it’s going to a bad collapse ready to happen. A look at one of the ugliest wins in NFL history……..
The Falcons once again found a way to win the game, especially at home, but goodness gracious, the idea of winning an NFL game with turning the ball over 6 times is unthinkable. Gone are the days of feeling good about coming back and winning the game. The Falcons put themselves in that position and it was just an ugly display of awfulness for 95% of the game. Matt Ryan threw 5 , yes FIVE, interceptions in one game and somehow won the game. The Falcons better improve in a very quick manner because a their schedule gets infinitely harder in a hurry. However, the ugliest win in the world is always better than the prettiest loss in history.
It was one of the worst imaginable games, but the Falcons still somehow found a way to win the game. They are continuing to win the games even though not playing nearly close to their best. Although much in the post may sound negative, the underlying point is that this team keeps finding ways to win and that’s surely helping them in confidence. Watch out if this team ever puts together 60 minutes of their A game.
Maybe it’s the case that 2 or 3 of the interceptions that Matt Ryan threw weren’t his fault, but good Lord it was a terrible display by the franchise quarterback. It started by his first play from scrimmage that was picked from a tipped pass. Another pass was tipped, but overall this looked like the QB from 2009 that was tentative, worried, and unsure of himself. The lack of running game, rather the insistence of running Michael Turner regardless of the circumstances, likely is taking it’s toll. Ryan found a way to win the game in the end, but everyone’s new favorites Tampa Bay Bucs are ready to celebrate Ryan’s career interception day next Sunday.
You can’t call it a trap game when you lose the week before, but the Falcons suffered from an ugly game seeing a team that saw a weaker opponent and played accordingly. The Falcons came out flat, executed poorly, and generally played awful. It wasn’t a deal of coming off a great game that you won and celebrated as such, but rather a game that was awful and you felt just as terrible. It was a tough game to get up for, but the Falcons nearly blew an opportunity to win one at home.
Let’s get past the point of starting and running Michael Turner in spite of what actually works, but the play-calling and route combinations were pretty horrid to say the least. It seemed as though once the Falcons started moving the ball with Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling that a stall flag was raised and Turner was inserted back in the game. Although painfully clear to most Bird Cage members that the new way to dominate on offense is with versatile and responsive running backs, Koetter, Smith and Co. are bound and determined to force Michael Turner regardless of what the circumstances say. Not only that, but there were several times where the WR route combinations were terrible. Several times it was seen receivers and tight ends were running into each other’s zones. There is so much talent to be seen, however it seemingly gets minimized by a somewhat decent defensive coordinator. Better get it fixed or it’s going to be a bad slide to end the season.
Evidently Mike Smith is attached to Michael Turner and feels that he can’t make success without him. It’s not a smash against Turner himself, but the fact remains that when Jacquizz Rodgers or Jason Snelling are the feature backs (sometimes in at the same time), the offense simply rolls better, that has been the case all the way back to preseason. It appears to many that the offense is at it’s peak when Quizz or Snelling are in the game. Funny enough, when the Falcons offense is rolling and doing great, there is a need to bring Turner back in the game to slow it down and generally make the offense predictable, weak, and not good. If Mike Smith doesn’t adjust accordingly, fans may be looking at 0-4 in the playoffs. This isn’t to say that Turner doesn’t have a place on the offense, but it’s painfully clear that, regardless of what the coaching staff force, he is no longer a feature back and the offense is insanely predictable when he’s in the game.
It doesn’t feel good to talk down about any Falcon and Dominique Franks has surely absorbed some criticism, but the simple fact remains that Franks is just not getting it done returning punts. Franks doesn’t fair catch and that leads to terrible starting field position and he looks very timid returning punts. Even when there’s several openings, Franks looks to get tackled as soon as possible and any dynamic ability he showed in the preseason is definitely gone. At what point will the Falcons coaching staff make a change? There’s always Harry Douglas and they brought back Tim Toone and, just like those first down Turner runs, returning punts are becoming wasted plays at best and horrible miscues that lead to awful field position at worst.
This really doesn’t apply to this game since the Cardinals won the toss and elected to defer, but throughout the season, it seems as though the Falcons always get the ball first to open the game. Mike Smith believes in getting the ball first and trying to go down and score to set the tone for the game. That’s all fine and good when you go down and score a touchdown, but more times than not the Falcons are going 3 and out, stalling on drives, and in worst case scenarios, turn the ball over essentially wasting a possession and even helping the opposing team. Most want to get their defense on the field first to see if they can make an early stop, score themselves first, set the tone for the game, and even get the ball back at halftime. Of course you can’t control who wins the toss, but when your defense is outperforming your offense, it may be time to rethink that strategy.
The Falcons continue to have major issues stopping the run. Each week the Birds are finding new ways to make rather unheralded running backs look like perennial Pro Bowlers on the ground. To it’s credit, the defense stiffened up when they needed to, but much of that had to do with pitiful quarterback play from the initial starter and then a brand new rookie. It’s a total team failure effort. The defensive tackles are getting blown up, the defensive ends are getting pinched, the linebackers are taking poor angles and getting blocked easily (Akeem Dent looking at you), and the defensive backs are taking poor angles themselves. And many of them are tackling poorly. Fans shudder to think about playing against some of the better running backs in the league and one of the best, rookie Doug Martin, looms in less than a week. Break out those prayer beads.
Attribute it to play-calling, the fact that Turner makes the offense predictable, weak offensive line play, or just poor execution, but the strain is becoming apparent on Matt Ryan and the offense. The Cardinals and other defenses are pinning their ears back and going after Ryan and trying to throw him off his game. It worked pretty well on Sunday. Also throw in those wasted 1st down runs and it’s easy to see the offense getting picked up with ease. Evidently there’s a hesitancy to let Ryan run the no-huddle. To be fair, the offense has been pretty good throughout the year, but as the season starts it’s final drive, the Falcons are showing some eerily similarities to seasons past.
Some positive news from the game is the continued excellent play by cornerback Robert McClain. The undrafted free agent is potentially moving out of a role player / nickelback and possibly into a future starter for the Falcons at some point. With their two other corners on the downside of 30 and Brent Grimes coming back from a significant injury (and likely not re-signed), McClain’s good play is a great and needed sign for the future.
We all complain about the media and the game announcers, but Daryl Johnston and his crew was pretty spot on. At one point Johnston said that “if the Falcons play like this against a quality opponent, it’s going to be a different outcome.” Also at some point in the game, Tony Siragusa said the “Falcons were doing everything in their power to keep the Cardinals in the game.”
This shouldn’t come as a massive surprise, but Ray Edwards release didn’t lead to any new explosions from any of the other defensive ends Lawrence Sidbury, Cliff Matthews, or Jonathan Massaquoi. It was only one game and Kroy Biermann is still taking the majority of snaps as the new starter, but there’s a hope that one of these guys can show some promise.
Are we the ones who are wrong after all? The Falcons are 9-1 and that’s nothing to sneeze at in the NFL, but it’s getting harder and harder to defend some of the things the Falcons do and they way they play. They blew an enormous opportunity to essentially bury the hated Saints and the Bucs are suddenly right on their heels in the division. They obviously can’t control their schedule and have won 90% of the games they’ve played, but many of what seemed big victories at the time (Chargers, Eagles, etc) aren’t looking nearly as good, lost a huge division game, and have looked downright terrible against some of the league’s worst (Raiders, Panthers, Cardinals). Many in the media have felt the Falcons are paper tigers of sorts, gobbling up weaker opponents and looking generally weak overall. Fact is, fans are having a harder and harder time defending the Birds as of late, but they are tied for the best record in the NFL through 10 games and every team beneath them has their own set of problems and issues. Bottom line is we’ll know everything we need to know in the next 11-12 days. It won’t matter how ugly the wins are if they find a way to pull out W’s against the Bucs and Saints.
What an enormous game looms for the Falcons. The Falcons travel to Tampa Bay to play one of the hottest teams in the NFL and play one of the biggest games of the season. Considering what’s at stake, it has to be the largest. The Bucs are only 3 games behind the Falcons and winning here would put the Birds in a great position for the division, giving them a 4 game lead with 5 games to go. However, if the Falcons lose, the door swings wide open once again putting the Bucs only two games behind the Falcons and some difficult games coming up (Saints, Giants, @ Lions). If the Falcons can go down and win any way possible, fans will get some sense of comfort back. If the Birds go blow one on the road, as they did in New Orleans, it’s a whole new ballgame.
1) Simple Run Stuff – your thoughts on the Falcons ugly, ugly win?
2) What in goodness name happened to Matt Ryan?
3) What’s your confidence level right now?
4) Did the Falcons suffer from a “loss hangover” or did they just play down to their competition?
5) What’s going on with the play-calling on offense?
6) Will the coaches stick with Turner regardless of the realities on the ground?
7) What is the deal with punt returner?
8.) Does it annoy you that the Falcons always get the ball first?
9) Time to hit the panic button on run defense? Why so bad?
10) Why has the offense become so predictable?
11) Is Robert McClain a potential future starter?
12) Are the Falcons paper tigers after all?
13) How big is the Bucs game on Sunday?