‘Explosive’ Falcons just opened season with a dud

What do they say about a picture telling a story? This one of Matt Ryan illustrates the Falcons' day.

What do they say about a picture telling a story? This one of Matt Ryan explains Falcons' day.

CHICAGO – When the Falcons said they wanted to get more explosive this season, did they mean like Wile E. Coyote explosive?

They said the intent was to open up the offense. Stretch defenses. They said they wanted to get more aggressive on defense. Pressure opposing quarterbacks. Let it fly, baby. Light the fuse. Problem is, when you don’t follow your own directions, it’s easy to inadvertently wire your big toe to the ACME dynamite kit. Then when you push the plunger on the season opener . . .

Boom!

The Falcons opened the season Sunday. Three hours later, all the remained was a pile of ashes.

Chicago Bears 30, Falcons 12. How’s that for your potential Super Bowl team? Instead of giving you a reason to forget their 48-21 playoff loss to Green Bay last January, the Falcons succeeded only in extending the hangover. They have been outscored in their last two games by 45 points.

And about that 0-4 record in the preseason. Maybe it’s not so meaningless after all.

“Stunned is an understatement,” linebacker Mike Peterson said.

“This isn’t what we planned on — it was awful,” Roddy White said.

It was worse than that. It was inexcusable.

Was all that talk about explosiveness just lip service? This was a season opener. This game followed months of hearing coaches, players and the front office talking about the need for wows and pyrotechnics on both sides of the ball. The Falcons traded a blur of draft picks so they could move up to draft wide receiver Julio Jones. They snagged defensive end Ray Edwards in free agency. They talked a big game.

But when the gates open, they pressed the trigger and a  flag saying, “Bang!” popped out. The Bears didn’t play dead.

Many Falcons players chose to credit Chicago’s defense for playing a strong game and taking away the deep threat. But quarterback Matt Ryan and offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey seldom left the impression they were in attack mode. Ryan never threw deep. Never. He says he thought about it several times but there was nothing there. Ryan also committed two horrific mistakes — an interception by Brian Urlacher, which led to a second-quarter touchdown when the game was still 3-3, and fumbling in the third quarter, leading to an Urlacher return for another score.

Ryan also was hoping to leave his Green Bay playoff performance behind him. This didn’t help. He has five turnovers and one touchdown pass in his last two games.

The Falcons didn’t just look bad. They self-destructed. They did things that good teams, let alone Super Bowl contenders, never should do. The defense missed tackles, took bad angles on plays and blew coverages. They turned Jay Cutler (312 yards, two touchdowns) into Sid Luckman. They introduced Roy Williams, who got drop-kicked out of Dallas, to relevancy.

They were beat physically. Chicago defense may be good but it’s hardly Monsters, redux. This isn’t 1941 or 1985.

Offensively, the Falcons looked and played timid. They lined up White on one side, Jones on the other,  and Tony Gonzalez and Harry Douglas between the two, as advertised. Then they cowered. Chicago often dropped eight players into coverage and taking away the deep ball. But don’t great players and great coaches adjust? They make plays. Instead, we were subjected to four quarters of check-downs.

Coach Mike Smith acknowledged the poor performance but he tried to temper concerns with, “Let’s not say the sky is falling.”

Gonzalez also sought to calm the masses.

“People outside the organization are going to push the panic button,” he said. “They’re going to think, ‘Oh my God. Overhyped. Over this. Over that. You know what? They’re full of it. If you want to think that, go ahead. Maybe it sells papers. Maybe it gives people something to talk about.  But it’s one game. We’ve got the players to do something special. We just have to go out next week and play better. And we will next week, I guarantee it.”

Nobody should doubt the Falcons can still be a great team. But opening performances like this tend to alter perspectives, especially with Michael Vick and Philadelphia coming to the Georgia Dome next week.

Overhyped? It’s probably too early for such proclamations. But it would at least be nice to see the Falcons attempt what they advertised.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

750 comments Add your comment

Najeh Davenpoop

September 11th, 2011
7:35 pm

After watching that Carolina game, it may not be that far-fetched to say Matt Ryan could be the division’s worst quarterback by the end of next season.

Benjamin

September 11th, 2011
7:37 pm

Kroy Biermann showed up to play. Where is Ray Edwards on my stat sheet?

SonOfBoh

September 11th, 2011
7:37 pm

At least we will get a quality first round draft pick…..

Festus

September 11th, 2011
7:38 pm

The late comedian Paul Lynde said it best when asked how to cure a compulsive gambler: Give him 3 points and the Atlanta Falcons. Bring back Bobby Petrino.

Billy O

September 11th, 2011
7:39 pm

It’s just one game….we played lousy….we’ll do better next week….

sam bonner

September 11th, 2011
7:39 pm

Look, people, including Atlanta fans, took the Bears lightly. Which is odd, since the Bears played the Packers far better last year than the Falcons did. The Bears are just a better team than Atlanta. There was no surprise in this game, just in the pointspread beforehand.

falconfever

September 11th, 2011
7:39 pm

matt ryan behind cam newton? ah…the vick apologists never give up

Jamaaliver

September 11th, 2011
7:39 pm

To say today was deflating is an understatement. They looked unprepared on defense and just plain inept on offense. There’s enough blame to go around to EVERYONE.

Our defensive coordinator needs to be re-evaluated. We didn’t cover, couldn’t tackle and got only sporadic pressure on the QB.

And I hope OUR Offensive Coordinator took note of how effective screen passes can be to offset the opposing defense’s pass rush.

Now on to MV7 and the Philly Dream Team. I REALLY hope our our pro team doesn’t start out 0-2 also.

Slimjr

September 11th, 2011
7:39 pm

Hey Melt let you girl wear the hose….Rise up DUDE or else kick rocks………

ab inito

September 11th, 2011
7:39 pm

I crap bigger than our defense…

Weak One

September 11th, 2011
7:39 pm

I’LL SAY IT AGAIN…. FALCONS TIED FOR FIRST PLACE IN THE DIVISION!!!!!!!

Slimjr

September 11th, 2011
7:40 pm

Its just one game of 82…OOPS wrong game…..

Weak One

September 11th, 2011
7:40 pm

WHY AREN’T MY COMMENTS POSTING?????????? FALCONS IN FIRST PLACE AFTER WEEK ONE

reebok

September 11th, 2011
7:41 pm

Looking at 8-8. The Falcons didn’t win a preseason game because they weren’t good enough. The defense is terrible and did not get better in the offseason.

reebok

September 11th, 2011
7:44 pm

the thing is, the Falcons could play a LOT better next week against the Eagles and still lose badly.

Dominic Hughes

September 11th, 2011
7:44 pm

I’m not panicking yet. But I would say Mike Mularkey and Brian Van Gorder have about two more games before the murmurs about firing them that began after the Green Bay debacle last year grow a heck of a lot louder. I’d say the Falcons were vanilla on both sides of the ball, but I actually like vanilla. If the Falcons D can’t do better than that against Jay Cutler and his lousy group of receivers, I hate to think what is going to happen against the likes of the Eagles, Packers and Saints.

DavidV

September 11th, 2011
7:45 pm

You cannot blame Ryan for the loss; he did not play defense. Also, the O-Line could not keep the Bears off of him. Give him some credit. The Falcons got destroyed by Aaron Rogers in the playoffs bacause their secondary is horrible. Cutler exposed that glaring weakness again today. The Falcons did not need offensive help in the offseason, the needed defensive, especially secondary help. Going to be a long season…..

JP

September 11th, 2011
7:45 pm

I came into this season believing that the Falcons didn’t have enough to match up with the Packers, Eagles and Saints. I did, however, think they would be able to match up with the Bears. :-/

Dwayne C

September 11th, 2011
7:46 pm

The Atlanta Falcons will play better in their next game at home vs the Philly Eagles…and still lose. They’ll be 0-2 after next weekend. Believe it.

ramblingbuzz

September 11th, 2011
7:46 pm

Falcan’ts can’t score except with field goals and can’t stop the other team. That is not a recipe for a Superbowl run.

same ol same ol...

September 11th, 2011
7:46 pm

…and we spent 5 draft picks to come up with that “better” offense – it was offensive all right…

#%$#$ing.......

September 11th, 2011
7:48 pm

…Sports Illustrated cover jinx….

JP

September 11th, 2011
7:48 pm

Also, DavidV is right. The O-line was horrible. Ryan wasn’t that bad. He still threw for over 300 yards despite spending all day with a pocket collapsing or running for his life. Urlacher made a good play on that INT. Receivers dropped balls all over the place. Defense didn’t tackle. Eric Weems doesn’t want to field punts. Our kickoff man can’t put the ball in for a touchdown. Lots and lots of problems.

root4au

September 11th, 2011
7:49 pm

Falcons will be lucky to win 8 games. No playoffs this year. M Ryan is getting worse imho. And the defense is down right terrible

yeah right

September 11th, 2011
7:49 pm

to all you idiots trying to say cam newton or josh freeman are better than matt ryan, have you lsot your mind? Its not Matt Ryans job to block for himself. and guess what, WHEN THEY TAKE AWAY THE DEEP BALL, YOU CHECK DOWN TO THE OPEN RECEIVER. But i bet all of you idiots moaning about that would be doin the same type of complaining if he took his shots down field into double coverage all day too right? Cant have it both ways guys. sorry to tell you. Its also not Matt Ryans jonb to call the plays, they come from upstairs, and Mularkey is a serious handicap to this offense, so please, blame Ryan for his happy feet and his lack of checks at the line of scrimmage, but not for making SMART choices to check the ball down or calling plays, HE CANT CONTROL THAT

ijonathan

September 11th, 2011
7:50 pm

Najeh, you usually bring some relevant information and perspective to the conversation. That comment about Ryan being the worst QB in the division is straight out of the deranged, hate-driven playbooks of blog agitators like Falcons Sorry and “Choke”. You disappoint me, sir.

firemikesmith.com

September 11th, 2011
7:50 pm

I thought our head coach was supposed to be a defensive specialist? 3 years into the regime and we have this crapfest?

Who said the NFC South......

September 11th, 2011
7:50 pm

…was the toughest division in all of the NFL – they are 0-4 for the first week….

And some of you goofs......

September 11th, 2011
7:52 pm

…still want BVG as UGA’s defensive coordinator…

REF

September 11th, 2011
7:53 pm

Explosion isn’t going to work with this offensive line. Letting Dahl go was a huge mistake. Biggest need for the Falcons in the offseason was the secondary but instead get a DE and rookie WR. After Green Bay, I thought TD was going to wake up and try to shore up the secondary but instead we trade the house for a WR in the draft.

ormewood

September 11th, 2011
7:53 pm

Well, they’re still tied for first place! Every other team in the division that’s supposed to be the best lost.

overslept

September 11th, 2011
7:53 pm

what did i miss?

This Gets Old

September 11th, 2011
7:54 pm

@ SonOfBoh Cleveland owns the Falcons first round pick

Larry

September 11th, 2011
7:54 pm

We have the worst Defensive Coordinator in the NFL and the most predictable Offensive Coordinator…as evidenced be the last two games one-sided scores.

Tell it like it is

September 11th, 2011
7:54 pm

Say what you want to,but we need a leader at QB,this guy seams to be getting worse,insted of better.sad state of affairs!

the barves

September 11th, 2011
7:54 pm

I thought they looked great out there

Big Wally

September 11th, 2011
7:55 pm

Well, the Falcons will go back to sucking, the dawgs suck, the Braves are choking and will probably miss the playoffs, the Hawks are locked out, and the Thrashers moved to Winnepeg. How’s the WNBA team doing?, looks like that is all we have to pull for.

Clay

September 11th, 2011
7:55 pm

What’s amazing is how often Bears receivers were WIDE open. You always know it’s a Falcons game when you see 5-10 yards between the receiver and the Falcons defender.

The Real DLedbetter

September 11th, 2011
7:55 pm

Noel Devine looked good today for the Falcons. I am sorry he is with the Eagles. LOL, the Falcons are a joke and so are the beat writers!!!! GO STEAK and tell baby Sophie I said hello!!!!!

the barves

September 11th, 2011
7:56 pm

just get some late dirty hits on vick and I’ll be happy. It must be done.

Big Wally

September 11th, 2011
7:56 pm

Memo to A. Blank. These great ‘character” guys maybe good in the lockerroom, but if they can’t block or tackle, then what good are they?

the barves

September 11th, 2011
7:57 pm

Real DLedbetter:

Devine isn’t with the eagles. he showed up kinda fat, i believe. So that’s a big loss there.

You know its a bad loss when people get on blogs and take it out on the beat-writer

djthescorpian

September 11th, 2011
7:58 pm

Micheal Turner-yes did have 100 yards rushing, but I’d like to know why they put a Jaquez Rogers on their team. Running backs are getting smaller and smaller these days. Yes, Jaquez had a good preseason, but I would have overuled that decision and gotten some odd 253 pounder to push Micheal Turner. As for Ryan-you got what you got-no more, no less. He is who he is and nothing more. Teams can win with a Matt Ryan, but let’s not make him out to be a Rogers(who is clearly better) or even a Brees. At this point the Falcons fans and those who’ve been watching ever since Matt Ryan came to Atlanta-he’s a winner, but he has to have the pieces around him to showcase his skill set.

BFalcon

September 11th, 2011
7:58 pm

Piss Poor performance from a so-called Super bowl contender.The offensive game plan stunk, the defense was pathetic.I have seen better tackling at the middle school level of football.Fulton Co, Sheriffs should arrest D.Robinson and T.DeCoud, they are stealing money from the Falcons.M.Mularkey and BVG had terrible game plans.The whole team was outplayed, outcoached and out hustled. To come out and put on a performance like that after you wait all off season to avenge a horrible playoff loss last season was just pathetic.Mr.Blank,you should withhold all checks due to poor work performance.I can only guess what M.Vick and the Eagles are thinking now.Everyone was so ready to annoint this team as the “team” that would finally take it to the next level. Think again,this team is far from that.The pass defense is still weak,no consitant QB pressure. O-line is suspect.What happened to the explosive plays downfield? I was expecting a spirited, determined, fired up group of Falcons today.What we all saw was a group of unsure, non-passionate , undetermined players who got their butts kicked up and down soldier field.I only can imagine what the Vick led Eagles are going to do next week.

Signed embarrassed Falcon Fan

GPMAN

September 11th, 2011
7:58 pm

Same ole chuck and duck. Would New England or Pittsburg trade away their future for an unproved receiver? Not likely. Michael Jenkins was a perfectly good target but if your QB can only throw twenty yards then you are screwed. Teams play both safties forward because anything over twenty is a floater.
I’ve been watching this team play defense for thirty years through Bobby Butler and Deon. They have never fielded a team that’s stopped the big play

scott

September 11th, 2011
7:58 pm

falcons..i,m very dissapointed i expected better in this game and better things from you this year however today i was about as let down as last years playoff game..you have lost 6 straight now including last years playoff game..i,m starting to get edgy!!!

M&M

September 11th, 2011
7:59 pm

Matt Ryan wasn’t the problem ?! How many deer in the headlights look he needs to show you ?! A million or 2 ?! He is regressing, get use to it ! I use to be his biggest believer. But after 2 playoffs loses and today, Not anymore !

GulfwavesGary

September 11th, 2011
7:59 pm

Maybe The Answer To All Of This is The Millionaire Atlanta Falcons Players are still on strike. Scrubs could not be any worse.

the barves

September 11th, 2011
7:59 pm

@big wally

don’t think dunta and spoon would be considered “high character” guys necessarily. and they did not look good

Gumbo

September 11th, 2011
7:59 pm

Chris Owens has to be the WORST defensive back playing in the entire NFL. My God, he has NO Clue out there.

Why does he play?