The most remarkable thing about the Falcons starting 2-0 for only the seventh time in franchise history is that they failed to make the playoffs in four of the previous six seasons it happened. (The most recent tumble: Jim Mora’s exit season of 7-9 in 2006.)
But given the way things are shaping up in the NFC South, chances of the team taking a significant dive seem minimal. Tampa Bay has dropped off the face of the earth. Carolina is close behind. New Orleans? Not going anywhere.
Onto this week’ check behind enemy lines in the NFC South.
The Falcons’ secondary has six weeks before they have to face the Saints. Might as well rest up now.
While it’s true New Orleans’ two wins have come over a 0-16 team from last season (Detroit) and another that was missing its starting quarterback (Philadelphia), the Saints’ offense has been somewhat ridiculous. They have outscored opponents, 93-49. They lead the league in points and offense (468 yards per game).
You think Matt Ryan has been good? Drew Brees has thrown for 669 yards and nine touchdowns. He has a quarterback efficiency rating of 132.9. Just two points higher and he’s officially a lab creation.
The Saints seemed to have learned something after losing five games of three points or less last season, which buried their playoff chances at 8-8. Former Georgia tackle Jonathan Stinchcomb told ESPN.com, “We have wallowed around at 8-8 and 7-9 since that NFC championship game [two years ago]. And that has left a bad taste in our mouths. But we also don’t want to make the same mistakes that we’ve made in the past. We feel like we’re a special team and we shouldn’t be hanging around .500.”
Safety Darren Sharper told the New Orleans Times-Picayuene: “We want to have the mentality that if we have a team down, we want to stomp on their throat and not let them come back.”
The only thing more surprising than the fact the Panthers already have lost half as many games as they did last season (12-4) is how accepting they seem of it. Coach John Fox said after Sunday’s loss to the Falcons, “I think we saw some things we can build on.”
Defensive tackle Damoine Lewis said, “We’re finding our stroke.”
Offensive tackle Jordan Gross told the Burlington Times, “There’s nothing that’s good in a loss, but I’m happy for Jake [Delhomme] and I’m happy for our offense a little bit after we did so poorly last week. At least we let us have a chance to be in the game this week.”
Gee, can we set the bar just a little bit lower?
Lewis had high praise for Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, saying: “Dude was getting rid of the ball so fast. We just could not get to him.”
We figured going into the season the Bucs would be the division’s worst team. Now we know it.
New defensive coordinator Jim Bates — a disaster as the Falcons’ coordinator for one season in 1994 — gets the Willie Martinez award. The Bucs lost to Buffalo, 33-20, after losing to Dallas, 34-21. That’s 67 points and 900 yards in two games allowed by a defense that used to be the NFL’s standard.
Bills running back Fred Jackson, who I’m fairly certain went undrafted in every Fantasy League, rushed for 163 yards in Sunday’s game. The Bucs even were called for four facemask penalties. Who gets called for four facemask penalties?
My pal Gary Shelton of the St. Petersburg Times summed up the wreckage best, writing: “Exactly how long does the thrashing continue? Will the Bucs win four times this year? Will they win two? Will they win any? Admit it: You thought about 0-16, didn’t you? Such are the questions that come to mind after watching a second straight drubbing.”