Coming off of a loss is always tough, but coming off a loss against the New Orleans Saints is even harder. Add that it was the Falcons first loss makes this a tough task for Mike Smith to get the team to refocus. I know Smith is up for the task.
This week, the Falcons look to rebound off their first loss as they take on the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals started off very well. They went 4-0 to start off the season. However, over the last 5 games, they are 0-5.
You can take this in two ways. You could look at it glass half-full. You could say, “Well, they were capable of winning 4, they can win another.” This is true. They in fact beat Seattle and New England, who are both very good teams. They obviously have the talent to beat two very good teams.
The other is the glass half-empty. This way makes more sense in my opinion. This way you say “They have lost to St. Louis and Buffalo, those first two wins weren’t a true testament of the team they are.” Those two losses showed that this team is indeed very vulnerable. Both of those statements have truth.
The Falcons must prepare as if they were preparing for the 4-0 Cardinals. They should expect the Cardinals to play them very hard, and for it to be a close game. I am not sure it will be, but it could be. So who/what do you prepare for?
The first thing you prepare for is the past defense of the Cardinals. They are surprisingly 2nd in the NFL in this category. This is a very good thing for the Cardinals, because the Falcons live and breath on the pass. I am not too concerned the Falcons won’t be able to figure it out passing-wise. If the Packers and 49ers could do it, I am confident that Ryan and Koetter will be able to figure that out.
The second thing has to be figuring out the short-yardage situations problem. Greg goes into this more than I will, so if you would like to read up on that, click here. All I have to say on that is, you have a man named Tony Gonzalez running routes, so you better use him.
The third and final thing they should most focus on is one of the most talented wide receivers in the league: Larry Fitzgerald. This is the mission for the Falcons this week. They truly have to contain Larry Fitzgerald to give that defensive line time to get to the quarterback.
There are more than just one reason to focus on Larry Fitzgerald. First is stated above. Skelton will look straight towards Fitz on almost every play. The fact he has to take a few more seconds to look to other options will help the defensive line put pressure on Skelton. Secondly, it effects the game plan of the Cardinals. I know if I were a coach, I don’t want my best weapon to be completely covered for most of the snaps. This creates adjustments, which aren’t always efficient.
I have a feeling the Falcons will take care of business in Atlanta this week. They have to be careful that they don’t under-estimate this team. They have the potential to bite you in the rear if your not careful. If they can convert on a few short-yardage plays, I have confidence in Mike Smith and crew to take a comfortable win this week as they try to put together a win after their first loss.