To borrow from those old Overstock.com commercials, it’s all about the O now. If they’re going to make the most of what remains of this season, the Falcons have to score more points.
They’re 12th in the league in scoring this season, averaging 24.6 points. They were 10th last season, averaging 24.4 points. That’s not enough of an upgrade for an offense that kept everyone and added Tony Gonzalez. Judging on total yards, it has been no upgrade at all. The Falcons ranked sixth in the league in yardage last season, averaging 361 yards; they’re 14th now, averaging 343.
The Falcons have scored 30 or more points twice in nine games. They scored 30-plus points five times in 16 games last season, and that was with a rookie quarterback and a new feature back and no Tony Gonzalez.
Sixty percent of the Falcons’ payroll is devoted to offense, which makes sense. Michael Turner, Roddy White and Gonzalez are Pro Bowlers, and Matt Ryan was the 2008 offensive rookie of the year. But Turner was having a lesser season until those big games against New Orleans and Washington, and now he’s hurt. And Ryan, who was 11th in passing efficiency last season, is 20th in 2009.
Given the changes made over the winter, we knew this defense would wobble, and it has. But the D has yielded only 1.3 points more per game it did in 2009, and its rating for total defense has dropped only from 24th to 25th. Put simply, the defense has been what we expected. The offense has not.
Sunday brings a test. The league’s 20th-ranked offense will face the Giants’ top-rated defense. And the game is on the road and outdoors, and Michael Turner might not play. No matter. You can’t pick your spots in the NFL. You have to perform when and where the schedule dictates. And what better place than the Big Apple — or East Rutherford, N.J. — for what seemed a sleek offense to prove it deserves to be called big-time?