5 reasons I’m (slightly) disappointed in these 4-2 Falcons

This isn't to say there haven't been high points. This was the apogee. (AP photo)

This isn't to say there haven't been high points. This was the apogee. (AP photo)

1. Matt Ryan hasn’t yet had the breakthrough season many projected. He’s tied for 17th among in NFL quarterbacks in passing efficiency. He’s tied for 22nd in yards per attempt. He’s tied for 20th in completion percentage. He was very good against the Cardinals and Saints, so-so against everybody else. He’s excellent on third down — he’s not known as Matty Ice for nothing — but as an every-down quarterback he isn’t significantly better than he was as a rookie. (Granted, he was great as a rookie.)

2. Michael Turner is sleeker than he was a year ago but no more effective. Last season Turner showed up heavy and only started to rumble in midseason, whereupon he hurt his ankle. This time Turner reported leaner and presumably meaner, but his numbers don’t reflect the upgrade in conditioning. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry and 79.2 yards per game in 2009; he’s averaging 4.3 and 77.7 now. He scored 17 touchdowns in 2008, 10 more last season. He has scored once in 2010.

3. The Falcons are better at gaining yards than scoring points. They’re ninth in the league in total offense, which reflects yardage, but tied for 11th in points. According to TeamRankings.com, their red-zone offense is tied for 21st among 32 NFL clubs. (And this with Tony Gonzalez, the ultimate red-zone weapon.)

4. They kick too many field goals. Again referring to TeamRankings.com, the Falcons are tied for second in the NFL with 2.7 FG attempts per game. (They’re tied for 17th in touchdowns per game.) This tells us they’re moving the ball — just not far enough.

5. The defense is better but still not Super Bowl caliber. The Falcons ranked 24th in total defense in 2008, 21st in 2009. They’re 18th now — those 474 yards amassed by the Eagles dropped the Falcons seven spots — and their pass efficiency defense is tied for 25th . Opponents have completed 68.6 percent of their passes, which means the quarterbacks who have played against the Falcons (Dennis Dixon, Derek Anderson, Max Hall, Drew Brees, Alex Smith, Seneca Wallace, Jake Delhomme and Kevin Kolb) have been more accurate than Ryan has against their respective defenses. Which shouldn’t be the case.

179 comments Add your comment

Walker

October 19th, 2010
9:15 am

Mark Bradley

October 19th, 2010
9:18 am

Kudos, Walker. Among the fastest firsts ever, I’d wager.

mmgtfan

October 19th, 2010
9:18 am

Ah 2nd!!! Dissapointed in me too Mark?

mmgtfan

October 19th, 2010
9:18 am

KornDawg

October 19th, 2010
9:24 am

I have to agree with you on this one. The Falcons seem to be doing just enough to get by offensively, the Cardinals game notwithstanding. With the exception of the Eagles game the defense has been okay, but there’s a long way to go. I can see the Falcons winning enough games to get to the playoffs, but they won’t do any damage when they get there if they keep playing like they have been playing.

Moonlight Mile

October 19th, 2010
9:29 am

Agree on all points, especially Turner. He is not a franchise back right now.

Worm

October 19th, 2010
9:30 am

Not championship caliber when you can’t beat teams on the road who are starting their back-up QB!(Philly) (Pitt)

Mark Bradley

October 19th, 2010
9:30 am

Never disappointed in you, mmgtfan.

waynester

October 19th, 2010
9:33 am

17th or so in most of the categories listed in this article–right around where we finished last season–and still no moves by the front office as the trade deadline is passing. We have some holes to fill, the $$ to do so, teams out here having fire sales on talent, yet we remain inert. I’m still holding out hope that Dimitroff will turn into a sharp horse-trader and be less dogmatic about building through the draft. He!!, I’d like to see him grab a few extra picks with some smart trading like the Pats always do but still, no moves. Patriot Way my hind leg…c’mon TD– shore up this team!

Mekias

October 19th, 2010
9:38 am

Turner needs more holes to run through. When he’s in the backfield, defenses are stacking the box and looking run. When Snelling comes in, they’re looking pass. Turner doesn’t look any worse to me. We just need better run blocking.

SadDawg

October 19th, 2010
9:39 am

Mark, does it seem that Ryan stares down his receiver soon as he takes the snap? Also, he doesn’t seem comfortable in the pocket anymore and doesn’t have a feel for stepping up or sliding over. He just dumps the ball off as soon as he can, even when the back is covered.

Replays Sunday showed several wide open receivers that he missed while staring at one guy, or dumping off when he had someone breaking open.

E's Dirty Bird's

October 19th, 2010
9:40 am

Matt Ryan has to turn the corner eventually. I think we run too many timing routes and not enough drop back and “read the coverage”routes. There were many people open last week; however, Matt threw to the 1st option timing route and not the obvious and openreceiver.

D-Man

October 19th, 2010
9:41 am

Definitely wondering what’s going on with the Iceman and this offense. Just doesn’t seem like he is taking the next step in progressing into the QB we all saw when he was a rookie. I’m holding out hope that it will still happen, but some of the throws I’ve seen (and this is since last season btw) are making me scratch my Georgia dome…

Mekias

October 19th, 2010
9:44 am

I agree with SadDawg and E’s Dirty Bird. Ryan needs to develop quicker reading abilities AFTER the snap. He’s pretty good at reading defenses BEFORE the snap but tends to only have two reads on each pass play…the main read and a dump off. If those 2 aren’t open, he seems unsure of what to do next.

Mike Jay

October 19th, 2010
9:46 am

I would say that the offensive line has gotten worse every year since Ryan has been here. Both in run and especially in pass protection. Turner needs to get a head of steam to be effective he can’t dodge guys in the backfield. I think with Jenkins back the passing game will improve each game but the running game worries me.

waynester

October 19th, 2010
9:48 am

Guys
I believe the OL might have a LITTLE something to do with Ryan progressing more slowly than we’d like. We have one of the best OL coaches in the league–and he’s worked wonders with the personnel available–give him some dominant players and we’d really show the league something. Coach Boudreau has created a unit whose sum is greater than it’s parts(and that’s exactly what you want) but please, TD, give the man some upgraded parts and keep Ryan alive and well for future generations to enjoy!

Mark Bradley

October 19th, 2010
9:50 am

The thing that was revelatory — at least to me — about the Philadelphia game was how much quicker the Eagles seemed on offense.

lombardi

October 19th, 2010
9:50 am

4 offensive tds in 3 games, (2 of which were against currently 1-5 teams). There won’t be any “Rising Up” this year – more like “Feeling Lucky” to get to 9 and 7.

SadDawg

October 19th, 2010
9:51 am

The way Ryan has regressed since his rookie year, it seems DCs have figured out how to defend him. If that’s so, this is on Mularkey.

Mularkey’s offense looked like a ‘88 Ford Crown Victoria compared to the Eagles’ Ferrari on Sunday.

Mike Jay

October 19th, 2010
9:51 am

Correct waynester. It’s hard to make reads and look at third and fourth options when somebody is in grill about 1.5 seconds after the ball is snapped. Elite QB’s have Good-elite olines. It’s why good LT’s get paid so much. We don’t have one of those by the way.

UGABugKiller

October 19th, 2010
9:53 am

There’s only so much the offense can do with the extremely conservative coaching and the horrible playcalling of Mularkey holding them back.

Come on, Bradley, Mularkey is HORRIBLE.

He has a Plan A, and if Plan A doesn’t work, he has nothing. NOTHING to fall back on. He refuses to adapt. He refuses to change. He refuses to evolve.

With all of those blitzes thrown against the offense, does Mularkey toss in a screen pass to slow down the blitz? No.

Does he spread the field, go four or five wide to negate the linebackers? No.

Does he put Ryan into the shotgun to give him time to read the field? No. And Matt Ryan is one of the most efficient QBs in the league in the shotgun. Funny you didn’t find that stat.

Mike Mularkey is holding back the development of Matt Ryan, and he’s holding back this offense from being as good as it can be with hi refusal to change his gameplan, to adapt to what the defenses are giving him, or to evolve his antiquated offense to better fit the changes in NFL rules that benefit the QB and the WR.

Mike Mularkey is what is holding this team back.

skip

October 19th, 2010
9:53 am

Agree about Turner and Ryan, but I’m also disappointed in Mularky and VanGorder. And don’t get me started on the special teams play. I think the Falcons really got exposed on several fronts this past Sunday.

Tixholder1966-2008

October 19th, 2010
9:53 am

Long time falcoholic and more than disappointed. Let’s be real, we could just as easily be 1 and four if not for a few miracles. This franchise over promises and under delivers year after year. I really didn’t want to drop the season tickets, however @ $6000.00 per season there was not enough value for me. Mr. Blank, in my opinion the man cave game day experience surpasses the Dome experience every week. Clean restroom, cold and inexpensive food and beer and the HD big screen with your buddies not to mention the traffic mess. Beware, I am not alone in this thinking!

IceColdATLien

October 19th, 2010
10:03 am

Mularkey still hasn’t taken the gloves off yet. I thought we’d see much more no-huddle as well as several shots down the field per game. Maybe it’s not the OC’s decision, though. After becoming head coaches, former DC’s tend to be conservative on offense… presumably believing that their D will win games as long as the O doesn’t turn it over. Either way, it’s a boring offense that’s easy to defend… maybe Mike Woodson is a consultant for the Falcons??…

Just Say'in

October 19th, 2010
10:03 am

@6,000 a year? Where are you sitting? Next to Arthur Blank?

geno

October 19th, 2010
10:05 am

quick, everybody close their eyes….imagine coach Smith holding up the lombardy trophy, mularkey and van gorder come in enjoying the celebration ..!!.Thomas Demitroff is covered in champayne….jubilant players giving interviews, etc…………………Its hard isnt it.???…..thats because this oddball coaching staff will never sniff a superbowl.

IceColdATLien

October 19th, 2010
10:05 am

6 stacks a year should get you a seat on Blank’s lap…

IceColdATLien

October 19th, 2010
10:07 am

…with cheerleaders hand-feeding you peanuts

SadDawg

October 19th, 2010
10:07 am

skip, I am less concerned about VanGorder. Mularkey’s offense has 3-and-outs at a dizzying pace, and even if the D isn’t tired, they are under the gun with the ball at or near midfield nearly every time they trot on the field.

Mularkey is terrible, but Smith must be happy with him . . .

Curt

October 19th, 2010
10:07 am

I am in agreement with many here who say that the offense and defense coaches are as much or most of the problem with the Falcons.

It seems that the offense is very predictable. Too many passes to the outside not enough passes down field. Using one back sets where everyone on the field knows who is going to get the ball.

Is it that Ryan is not good enough or that Mularky is not a good coordinator?

Defensively, the Falcons play far too much zone and don’t do a good job of covering up what they are doing. It seems on defense that the Falcons play not to get burned and instead just get pushed down the field.

Is it lack of the right personel or is it the defensive coordinator?

Just Say'in

October 19th, 2010
10:08 am

Sooo True Geno! I can’t see it as even a possibility!

Play the Refs

October 19th, 2010
10:10 am

Mekias I agree about Turner. He is obviously not the type of runner that can make moves in the backfield to try and get past the line of scrimmage. If Turner is not able to get a head of steam then he seems to be very easy to slow down. If he is able to make it to the line without being hit then he usually picks up good yardage.

I hate to say it but I think that a lot of the problems line in the predictability of the offense. On many occasions the opposing defense brings a safety down in the box on 1st and 2nd down to stop the run. Then they drop back into pass coverage on third down while the d-line pins their ears back, and Matty doesn’t get much time.

I agree that the team needs to be a running offense, however they don’t always have to be a run “first” offense.

The thing I see about coach Mularkey is that he is still calling plays like he has the Steelers defense backing him up. His play calling works great when he can count on the defense to hold the other teams offense to 7-10 points while getting a turnover or two a game. However, with the current Falcons D(albeit an improved and better looking D) he can not always play the ball control offense. Mularkey’s offense is very good for a couple of situations: playing with a lead, playing in bad weather, and playing with a top 5 defense on your side.

The team needs to start out fast and get the lead in the first quarter like they were doing 2 years ago.

IceColdATLien

October 19th, 2010
10:10 am

I can envision Dimitroff and Blank in that picture, but not the rest of ‘em

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DC Dirty Bird

October 19th, 2010
10:16 am

Mark, the Eagles drafted for speed in their skill positions on offense. I have posted several times about our lack of a change of pace back. I feel like we have similar speed on the edges, but our routes are simple and don’t take advantage of our speed. Our offense is built to kick field goals, score the occasional touchdown, and play behind a dominating defense without turning the ball over. The only problem is, that philosophy is dead.

Mike Williams

October 19th, 2010
10:18 am

The falcons overall were not ready to plan the Eagles on Sunday. The coaches were not prepared to adjust to the Eagles changes in their offense and our offense is vanilla at best. I can pretty much call the Falcons plays during the first half of games because ther is no change fron game to game. Matt has not turned the corner from being average to showing the team and fans he can be an excellent quarterback and leader. I thought he showed some leadership skills in the NO game, but nothing since. I would like to see some fire on the side lines and more spunk from the coaches on offensive play calling. Do something different to catch the other team off guard beacuse the other teams know what we plan on doing on boyh sides of the ball. The Falcons need to play the rest of the season like they played against NO or we will be just another middle of the road team.
Go Falcons.

newgafatboy

October 19th, 2010
10:20 am

i’ve said it all year, Matt WILL NOT throw the ball downfield. so what if its incomplete, you HAVE to take shots to keep the safties honest.with our tall recievers i cant figure why he’s so scared. is the long ball the “chink in Matts armor”?

Kurdt Kobain

October 19th, 2010
10:22 am

Uncreative and super-conservative offensive play calling seems to be holding back the offense to me. Opposing defenses don’t have to worry too much about deep balls or screens, so they can blitz away and focus on taking away short passes.

Also, for an allegedly “run-first” team, we sure like to pass a lot, especially on 1st down, especially when the running game is working fine.

gadawgs

October 19th, 2010
10:22 am

It’s Mularkey.

Arno

October 19th, 2010
10:23 am

Same point in the year when Falcons got humbled by Dallas in 09. It’s a leadership problem. Next few games will determine if team can step up.

opie taylor

October 19th, 2010
10:24 am

Enter your comments here

Tixholder1966-2008

October 19th, 2010
10:27 am

@ Just Say’In…..Do the math, 4 tickets on the 40 @ $150.00 each x 10 games (yes it does include 2 exciting pre season games though) = 6 big ones.

Stat Man

October 19th, 2010
10:30 am

1- We missed Witherspoon more than we thought we would in Philly. His absense made us look even slower on D than we are.
2- Turner hasn’t found 2008 success again, but hasn’t really taken a step back either – they have used Snelling much more (last year thru 6 games=19 carries, this year=56). Hopefully this will keep Turner fresher later on.

##-STAT OF THE YEAR-##
The Falcons have had 70 drives this year. They have gotten the ball inside the opponents 7 yard line only THREE TIMES (this would also account for Turners lack of TD’s).

It seems they are patient working the ball all the way down the field, then they get into the red zone and have to go all or nothing all of a sudden.

SERIOUSLY – 3 of 70 drives produced an offensive snap inside the opponents 7 yard line??? Pathetic!

3- Who ever thought the Falcons had a Super Bowl caliber defense in the first place???? I certainly didn’t.

Now then – your other 2 points merge together. (A) Ryan hasn’t taken the next step and (B) we don’t score in the red zone.

Until (A) happens, (B) won’t.

Overall though – you look at a schedule that includes 4 road games and against 4 teams that were picked to win their divisions at the start of the year. I’m happy with 4-2, but indeed there is much more work to be done!

moorman

October 19th, 2010
10:32 am

PROBLEMS:

1. matt ryan is not a elite quarterback. get OVER it atlanta. weak arm and throws waay too many interceptions at crucial times.
2. defense is NOT mean enough. it starts up the middle. they STILL dont have that toughness up the middle at tackle, middle linebacker and strong safety.
3. coaching is overrated. they dont make adjustments on offense and i dont know WHATS so special about the head coach. he has no particular philosophy you can put a hand on. bring back dan reeves.

buckhead benny

October 19th, 2010
10:33 am

Mark- This is a different team without Witherspoon in at linebacker, and dunta robinson playing- It is very obvious who the leader of that defensive unit is and it is Witherspoon- They play with a certain swagger and intensity when he is out there. I think he helps keep that team amped up and more importantly he plays fast and physical and takes away one side of the field. The rest of the team doesn’t have that.

Do you not agree Mark that it is noticeable as I see it without Witherspoon in the lineup? He was leading the team in tackles before he missed games.

SimpleDawg

October 19th, 2010
10:33 am

The Falcons aren’t what their record says they are…….they’re not that good.

The Eagles exposed them as a sham. They’ve won 3 games on the last play, when the opponent could also have won. They had 1 blowout win against a team with a QB who shouldn’t be starting in the mighty NFL.

Matty Ice has played more like Matty Spice. I’m beginning to think that he isn’t improving, but regressing. Our offense seems very predictable and imaginative.

The defense has been pretty good, but they still scare me. An old pass rusher, 2 young tackles, small corners, and no big playmaker on defense.

I know they’re 4 – 2, but it’s a shallow 4 – 2. They have 10 more opportunities to show who or what they are….I’m a skeptic right now.

FALCONS SORRY

October 19th, 2010
10:34 am

SORRY ATL FALCONS! THIS 2010 TEAM AINT NOTHING WITHOUT TURNER BURNER OUT THERE RUNNING HARD AND MAKING PLAYS! AND RODDY WHITE TO! EVER BODY IN THE WHOLE NFL KNOW THE FALCONS AINT GOT NOT NO BODY AT QB! ALL WE GOT TO PUT OUT THERE BEHIND CENTER IS AUTHUR BLANKS SISSY ILL LEGITIMATE SON THAT PROBABLY REALLY A GIRL WITH SHORT HAIR! THAT CROOK BLANK GOT RID OF THE BEST ATHLETE TO EVER STEP ON A FEILD AND THE BEST ONE TO EVER COME TO TO THIS SORRY TOWN FULL OF HATER JUST SO HE COULD MAKE HIS CLOSET HIDING CHILD A MILLIONARE! YOU HAVE BURN THE BRIDGE WITH THE PEOPLE OF THIS TOWN WHEN YOU FRAME THE PEOPLES QUARTER BACK FOR NO REASON! IT GOOD THAT YOU ARE USE TO WEARING THAT JAIL HOUSE ORANGE FROM YOUR DAYS OF ROBBING PEOPLE AT HO DEPOT FOR WHEN YOU GO TO PRISON FOR HOW YOU FRAME MIKE BLANK! THIS NO GOOD YOU THRU OUT ON THE GRID IRON FOR 2010 IS O FOR PENCILVANIA! BOTH THEM TEAM MOPED THE FLOOR WITH THIS WORTH LESS TEAM! WHEN MIKE GET BACK ALL HIS MONEY THAT BLANK STOLE AND GAVE TO SISSY BOY HE IS GOING TO BUY BLANK AND RYAN AND PUT THEM TO WORK CLEANING TOLETS LIKE THEY NEED TO BE DO! MATTY HOPELESS CRYIN RYAN NEED TO GET THE NFL TO LET HIM I MEAN HER WEAR A DRESS AS PART OF THE UNIFORM! LITTLE SISSY BOYS WITH RICH CROOK DADDY BEARS LIKE BLANK NEED TO WEAR THE RIGHT CLOSE AND NOT BE DRESSING LIKE MEN! RYAN-BLANK IS WHAT IT REALLY NEED TO SAW ON YOUR THE BACK OF YOUR DRESS MATTY HOPELESS! WE CAN ALL SEE THE RESEMBLANCE OF YOU TWO COWARDS! ALL THE FALCONS DO IS KICK FOR POINTS EVER TIME RYAN-BLANK BRAKE A FINGER NAIL! DADDY BLANK! COME HELP! ALL THESE BIG SWEATY MEN IS CHASING ME!

1998 Dirty Bird

October 19th, 2010
10:34 am

Damn Stat Man, the AJC needs to hire you. That’s more detailed analysis (backed with facts) than I’ve seen in any column all year.

Nice work.

opie taylor

October 19th, 2010
10:35 am

Mike Smith was selected over Rex Ryan, Mistake number one, what did Mike Smith ever do as a DC in Jacksonville? Absolutely nothing, they were mediocre and passive, he was a linebacker coach in Baltimore. Marvin Lewis was the DC when the Ravens won the Super Bowl. Thomas Dimitroff selected a yes man with zero credentials to lead a team

Matt Ryan was selected third for a reason, the scouts thought he threw to many interceptions in college and has a week arm, their reports are very accurate. Parcels chose a lineman with the first pick because he knew Ryan was an awful selection with no upside. We are in the third year of this regime and the bottom line is zero playoffs and no quraterback improvement. To make matters worse the second and third string quarterbacks coul not start in the UFL. Stop making excuses for Matt Ryan, he is surrounded by more talent than Steve Bartkowski,Chris Chandler, and Mike Vick, ever had in Atlanta. Remember, Atlanta was 4-2 last year and collapsed under this coaching staff, they used injuries as an excuse, what is the excuse now? Look in the Mirrow!!

Paulitik

October 19th, 2010
10:36 am

All signs point to Mike Mularkey. We have the same talent, but they sre not improving. There is no other excuse. Watch Matt Ryan’s drive after his INT against SF. He can make every throw, and excel in the no-huddle. He has been handcuffed by Mularkey’s playcalling, and the stagnation of Michale Turner has made it worse.