Some Cage members are having a hard time finding The Bird Cage through normal channels, so make sure to bookmark the following in your favorites:
It’s hard to know where to start on this one. To be blunt, this was one of the worst losses in the entire time that Mike Smith has been head coach. This team has serious problems and they just proved to all the doubters and skeptics that they may be right after all. The Falcons may not always win while under Smith’s reign, but they usually always play hard and fight until the end. Well, that appeared not to happen on Sunday in Charlotte. The Falcons were not only beaten, but flat out embarrassed. Fans likely started getting that same sick feeling in the back of their throats the way they did the last two years in the playoffs, because that’s how bad they looked. A look at the horror show that was:
15 yards in the first quarter. 40 total yards in the first half. Michael Turner 2 carries for 3 yards. Do those stats strike you as a team ready to make waves in the postseason? Sure, they turned it on when they decided to start playing, but by that point it was entirely too late. When they were well behind, they decided to start playing a little offense and looked pretty good in the no-huddle which bogged back down when they needed points. The running game was non-existent, the line was horrible, and Matt Ryan was off yet again. Most of us tried to chalk up the poor offensive game vs. the Saints as just a blip, but they actually looked worse against the Panthers.
That’s putting it nicely. The fact has long been that Jacquizz Rodgers has shown way more upside and the ability to carry the bulk of carries in the backfield. All Falcons fans appreciate what Michael Turner has done for this franchise and he’ll likely have a banner hung in his name when it’s all said and done, but he’s just not getting it done. It’s hard to part with players who have meant so much to the franchise, but the time has come. Mike Smith obviously hasn’t got that memo. The entire offense played terrible so it’s unfair to scapegoat just one player, but Jacquizz Rodgers is just better and the facts don’t lie. Rodgers had 21 yards on 4 carries and Michael Turner carried the ball 7 times for 14 yards.
This game had trap written all over it. The Falcons clinched the NFC South and were playing a 3-9 team with the Giants coming up next week. Fans are trying their best to chalk it up as just a blip, but there’s a growing fear that we’re starting to see an eerily similar storyline. In 2010, the Falcons won a lot of close games en route to a 13-3 season and the NFC #1 seed. The rest, of course, is history seeing the Birds have a complete meltdown catastrophe vs. the Packers. Being completely objective, the Falcons are still 11-2, have already won their division, and are still leading the NFC, but the nightmare scenarios are getting worse and not better with the Falcons seemingly playing their best football at the beginning of the season and playing their worst football closer to the playoffs. There’s still 3 games left and all 3 teams will be good tests for the playoffs. This one can be chalked up to a trap game, but we’ll know everything we need to about this team the next three weeks, starting with the Giants at home in a one week.
Yes, he threw for 325 yards and one touchdown, but he also does not look the same quarterback that he did in the first half of the season. He missed throws, looked jittery in the pocket, and just didn’t seem to be in a good rhythm. Maybe it’s playing behind a weak offensive line, maybe he’s suffering from a weak running game, or maybe his coordinator is not helping him at all. Who knows why, but the results say that Ryan is going in the opposite direction. He looks the most comfortable in an open, no-huddle type offense, but for whatever reason, the coaching staff seems to avoid it except when they are 23 points down. Here’s to hoping Ryan gets it figured out and quickly.
It’s been common knowledge that John Abraham has been the Falcons only pass rush for a long time. Problem is, when he’s not completely on his game, the Falcons have nothing else. Biermann has great hustle, but is more of a linebacker playing as a defensive end. No one has taken advantage of Ray Edwards absence whatsoever. In particular, the defensive tackle position appears particularly weak. Peria Jerry has never turned that mythical corner, Corey Peters is likely not 100%, Vance Walker is a good rotational player, and Jonathan Babineaux is playing more defensive end and on the downside of his career. The Falcons were gashed by the run yet again and it allowed Cam Newton be precise in his passing. All considering, the defense did pretty decent since the offense didn’t help whatsoever until entirely too late.
Matt Ryan always does best in an open, no-huddle type of offense. If you think about some of Ryan’s best games, they have come from those type of gameplans going all the way back to the Ravens game in 2010. This offense is more in sync, has more rhythm, and it masks some of the weaknesses on the offensive line. The Falcons were at their best early in the season with many of the no-huddle type of looks and yet they are going away from it with diminishing results. Even the run game seems more productive in the no-huddle. Do they have to stay in all the time? No, but why not go with what works best. They only implemented it when they were down 23 points and, sure enough, they went right down the field. The great mystery remains.
This may come off as sour grapes and ultimately it likely didn’t matter with how poor the Falcons played, but there were several questionable calls at a very critical juncture in the game. The first was one of the worst calls of the entire season. The Falcons scored a touchdown and converted a two point conversion. Even the line judge ruled the 2 point conversion good and was evidently overruled. The ref said that Roddy White bobbled the ball, but the replay clearly showed he never bobbled the ball whatsoever. It was only two points, but it seemed to cut down some of the Falcons building momentum. Another play showed a critical catch by a Panthers receiver who appeared to drop the ball, the play was ruled incomplete, but the refs overturned that call. Finally, Dunta Robinson was called for holding a play where the defense seemed to get a stop. He was holding and it was the right call, but there were tons of times when Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, and John Abraham were being held to no avail.
This is an issue that was supposed to get fixed earlier in the season, but the Falcons are still having issues bringing down their opponents. Corey Peters couldn’t bring down Cam Newton for a sack (but also got no help at all either) and there were several other instances where the Panthers running back or quarterback got extra yards after the first hit. At best, they’re simply inconsistent. Some weeks they’ll tackle well and others, they won’t. If they don’t get it fixed in a hurry, they won’t be going far in the playoffs.
1) Simple missed tackle – how awful was this game?
2) Does this rank as one of the worst under Smith?
3) Is it panic time with the offense?
4) What’s most to blame on offense (besides the OL)?
5) When will the Turner Era end? Should it end?
6) Was this just a blip or playoff preview?
7) What is wrong with Matt Ryan?
8.) Which is worse: offensive or defensive line?
9) Why do the coaches refuse to run no-huddle, open attack?
10) Bad calls or sour grapes?
11) Will tackling ever get consistent?
12) Are you terrified of upcoming Giants game?