There was a little hope in all Falcons fans that the unexpected could somehow happen. The Falcons would find a way to resurrect a season that has crashed into the side of the mountain. They won last week and many felt that if they could find a way to win the next two, starting with the Arizona Cardinals, that they would have a shot. WRONG.
Even though there’s been worse butt-whippings in the Mike Smith Era in terms of scores (Falcons 16, Saints 45 in 2011 comes to mind), this was easily one of the most embarrassing losses in the last four years. It thoroughly was a must-win in every sense of the word. The Falcons could ill-afford another loss and keep any hopes alive of making the postseason. Not only that, their schedule gets much, much harder as the season goes on.
The nail might as well be placed and ready to be driven into the Falcons “Super Bowl or Bust” season. Fans will of course stick with their team, but much of it will now turn to “what now?” Assuming the Falcons season continues as it has started, Arthur Blank will have some major decisions to make. Most of us wouldn’t want the job of defending the status quo going forward. A look at the horror show that was:
This one is the gift that keeps on giving. The Falcons finding a way, ANY WAY, to settle for a field goal when a touchdown is warranted and needed. Example number comes after Asante Samuel nabs an interception to set the Falcons perfectly in the red zone. No touchdown. After falling behind 14-3 and desperately needing a TD to claw back in the game, they came up short once again. In fact, they were only able to score a touchdown because of a controversial defensive pass interference on the Cardinals when the game was already well over.
Matt Ryan had a really terrible day. Specifically, one of the worst of his career. Some of his decisions were pretty bad and that’s not even mentioning the Falcons awful OL. However, there’s not too many quarterbacks that would do very well with a whopping 27 yards rushing. Not in one quarter, but the entire game. The problem in running the football goes wide and deep. The play calls are ridiculously predictable (no idea what’s coming with extra OL in there). The running backs are anything but dynamic. But most importantly, the supremely terrible. The lack of running game is definitely taking it’s toll on Ryan and the offense as a whole. Is any offense good when their QB has to throw the ball 61 times? The commentators mentioned that the Falcons were on pace for a franchise low amount of rushing yards for the season. Let that sink in for a second thinking about the Falcons less-than-stellar franchise history. Oh yeah, and 13 of those rushing yards were from Matt Ryan.
How is it possible that an organization gets 6 drafts, many free agents, two defensive coordinators, and several other defensive coaches that a defense is actually worse than when they first started. They literally make any team, their QB, and any rookies look destined for the Hall of Fame in Canton. Drew Brees is one thing, but seeing the Falcons let Sam Bradford have a career day, Ryan Tannehill look like Dan Marino, rookie Geno Smith resemble Broadway Joe Namath, Carson Palmer look 10 years younger, and even Mike Glennon look OK as a rookie, it’s gone from sad to embarrassing.
Now it’s not only limited to quarterbacks, but also rookie running backs as well. Former Clemson RB Andre Ellington ripped off over 150 yard rushing, including an 80 yard jolt. There are no answers and no excuses. Everyone deserves blame, especially Smith and Dimitroff who have built this defense (or not built it should be more accurate). Mike Nolan has been a very successful defensive coordinator everywhere he’s gone. Why not here? Early guesses see Nolan being a convenient scapegoat for this year’s collapse. Didn’t we see the same story back in 2011?
There’s nothing left to say and this really should have a standing spot on each post for the remainder of the season. All 5 offensive linemen looked terrible. There were no bright spots at all. Every player on the OL got abused by a stout defense, built around a tough and physical defensive line. Not only that, but the OL had a heap of flags. It got so bad that Lamar Holmes and Justin Blalock actually got a false start penalty at the same time. Luckily for the Falcons you can’t get double penalties. They got a total of 5 false start penalties for the entire game. One of the most depressing parts about it is looking forward. Who can the Falcons build around? Maybe Lamar Holmes, but that learning curve is getting deeper and larger by the game.
Justin Blalock is on the wrong side of 30 and getting a huge contract. Konz still is thought to look forward as the future at center, but days like today throw a huge question mark into that line of thinking. How long will the tackle-playing-guard experiment last with Garrett Reynolds? He may be OK going forward, but not at guard. Jeremy Trueblood is on wrong side of 30 and just an injury replacement. After a fluke decent year (during a contract season), Sam Baker seems to be back to normal. Even if they wanted to, the Falcons couldn’t repair this OL in one off-season, probably two to be honest. The past, current, and future looks really bleak on this offensive line.
Even though not many, there were a few bright spots from the really terrible loss vs. the Cardinals. As fans we may not have gotten a look at some younger players without the injuries, but there’s some nice surprises. In particular, the Falcons have finally see Harry Douglas step up and out of the shadows of Roddy White and Julio Jones. HD has shown he can carry the weight if need be. Drew Davis and undrafted free agent Darius Johnson have also displayed the ability to round a young and athletic wide receiving corps moving forward. Matt Bosher is really awesome at doing onside kicks and making tackles on special teams when no one else can. And the Falcons may have finally found an answer at punt returner in Robert McClain. He showed an ability not seen since Eric Weems left town. The new punt returner also showed a fire and tenacity sorely lacking with the rest of the team when he de-cleated an unprepared Cardinal on special teams. Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow are seeing their share of issues, but they at least should finally be a lock for the Falcons woefully inadequate linebacker corps moving forward.
More to come very soon………..
Who Can Falcons Build Around Moving Forward?
Can’t Blame Injuries
Is Matt Ryan Regressing?
The Schedule Gets Worse
Out of Playoffs by Week 8