Apparently Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com saw the same game I did. Because he spent the entirety of his post on the Falcons’ victory over San Diego — was there ever a victory so misleading? — discussing the winning team’s defense. Or the abject lack of same. Wrote Yasinskas:
“The Falcons aren’t going to go out and blow up their defense at the end of the preseason. They’re going with what they’ve got and that’s a little scary. They could have gone out and grabbed some blue-chip defensive backs in the offseason. But they didn’t.
“They’re going with Brent Grimes and Chris Houston as their starting cornerbacks and Erik Coleman and Thomas DeCoud as their starting safeties, for better or worse. If the Falcons are going to make the best of this, they need to do some of the same things they do with their offensive line. They don’t have a tremendous amount of talent there, but they make the most of it because they hide their weaknesses.
“They need to do the same thing with the secondary. The best way to do that is with a pass rush. They’ve got an elite rusher in John Abraham, but they need more than that. They need third-year pro Jamaal Anderson to step up from the very start of the season. Anderson was a top 10 pick in 2007 and he’ll be on the bench if he doesn’t start quickly.
“The Falcons have Chauncey Davis, Lawrence Sidbury and Kroy Biermann as alternatives to Anderson. One, or some combination, of all those defensive ends will have to step up or the secondary really might be in trouble.”
I’d agree the Falcons aren’t apt to blow anything up at this late date. But I’m not sure they’re committed to going with what they have. As I mentioned yesterday, GM Thomas Dimitroff seemed to indicate after the game he could be doing some last-minute shopping among free agents and off the waiver wire.
I don’t believe Anderson is going to get cut, as many commenters on Saturday’s live chat suggested. Neither do I believe he’ll become anything more than a rotational player along the defensive line. A guy with two sacks in two seasons isn’t going to turn into Deacon Jones because Mike Smith wishes really hard.
No, if there’s a pass rusher to be found (other than Abraham) among this D-line crew, I’m thinking it’s Sidbury. And it should be noted that Smitty singled the Richmond rookie out for praise after the game, which is more than he did for any first-team defender save Curtis Lofton.
Here’s one of those fun-with-numbers things that is neither terribly fun nor especially edifying. Jay Jaffe of Baseball Prospectus, which leads the majors in numbers per column inch, breaks down the schedules of the National League wild card contenders for ESPN.com and determines that the Braves’ isn’t so tough. Wrote Jaffe in a post dated Friday (link requires registration):
“Aside from six games with the Phillies — against whom Atlanta is 8-4 this year — and seven with the Marlins, the only other contender the Braves face the rest of the way is the Cardinals.”
The Braves just finished a three-game series in Philadelphia, meaning only 13 of their remaining 32 games will be against teams with winning records. The Giants, by way of contrast, must still play more than half their games — 16 of 31 — against winning clubs. Yet San Francisco entered the weekend with a 12.2 percent chance of making the playoffs, while the Braves entered with “a less than 1-in-10 shot.”
Got that? Me, neither. But here’s something to consider: The Rockies, who fell into a tie with San Fran for the wild card lead 3 1/2 games ahead of the Braves, play only nine of their 31 games — and three of the next 22 — against teams with winning records.
Jeff Owens, the gifted and expressive Georgia defensive tackle, set a goal of breaking the magic 1,000-follower mark on Twitter over the weekend, and he made it. (Thanks to esteemed colleague Rudy Isaza for alerting me to this momentous development.)
If you care about the Bulldogs and haven’t yet followed Mr. Owens, you should. (He’s @jeffowens95.) Because you’ll discover things, such as how Mr. Owens spent his weekend:
Not entirely sure what’s on tap for next weekend. Something about playing cowboy. Or maybe it has to do with playing the Cowboys.