Anyone and everyone who watches and adores football like the readers and writers of this site know how well the Green Bay Packers did in the regular season last year. If I recall correctly, they ended the season regular season with one loss (which was late in the season when the starters were benched) and was awarded the status of first place in the NFC play-offs, earning a first round week off bye. Their great success all year long came from great quarterback play, paired with an array of outstanding receivers that allowed for a high scoring pass happy offense that defenses just couldn’t keep up with. They ended up losing in their first game of the play-offs to the eventual Super Bowl champs in the New York Giants, but it wasn’t because of the play calling and the offensive production; it was rather because of their lack of fundamentals when it comes to their ability to squeeze the ball (and the Packers defense ranked second to last in the league last year). The Packers finished the game with four turnovers, three of which being fumbles.
The point I’m trying to get at here is the Packers were able to have a very successful regular season, and had the ability to go far in the play-offs had they taken care of the ball with the pass happy offense they ran. This formula can work, as long as you have a very accurate quarterback, a solid core of receivers, and a decent offensive line to protect.
If we transfer these successful “ifs” to the Falcons. Do they Falcons have a ”very accurate quarterback”? I think we can all agree with an overwelming yes as Matt Ryan is an early canidate for NFL MVP. Next, do the Falcons have ”a solid core of recievers”? Absolutely…I would even argue that the Falcons have the best receiving threesome in the league in Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez. When you throw an x-factor like Harry Douglas into the mix as well, things can get pretty scary for defensive backs. Lastly, “a decent offensive line”? Up to this point in the season, the line has done a formitable job in keeping Matt Ryan on his feet and giving him time to protect. They struggled a bit against the Saints, but you will see that in any divisional game when teams know eachother as well as they do. Matt Ryan has been sacked 19 times this season (about 2 sacks a game), which is 10 less than Aaron Rodgers (29) but three more than Drew Brees (16).
The way the running game has gone thus far this season, I think the Falcons need to work a bit more on the screen game (which they have done a nice job with), and just go to a pass happy offense that forces the defense to cover all of the explosive weapons available. At this point in the season, it would be at least worth trying to see if they can operate in such an offense before it gets too late. Matt Ryan is ready for that kind of pressure, and he is extremely comfortable in the no huddle offense. Dirk Koetter, Atlanta’s offensive coordinator, can still chat in Ryan’s helmet until 15 seconds remain on the play clock, so even in the no huddle he can help call the plays.
Whatever happens though, I can tell you one thing, like I’ve said in my other articles, no longer will I be resting my Michael Turner jersey on my shoulders on game days. The Falcons have rode his shoulders for the past few years to the play-offs, but it is obvious he is not the one carrying them this season.