The Atlanta Falcons have a record of 9 – 1 at Thanksgiving. The best record in the NFC.
Three months ago when preseason games were giving rookies like Dom Davis a chance at making the team and were used to tweak schemes by new offensive and defensive coordinators every Atlanta Coach, player and Falcon fan would have been delighted with that record, most would be confident of the road to the super bowl having to go through Atlanta and there would be predictions and great hope that the Falcons could certainly get to that game and have an excellent chance at a win. But there is no crystal ball to look at the future so we use hindsight to dissect and review that 9 – 1 record.
Atlanta has much to be thankful for at this juncture in their schedule as we are about to start the holiday season. In a game where Matt Ryan was quite a bit off and had some horrible luck and with a rushing attack that could only muster fifty eight yards the Falcons must be thankful for an Arizona offense so anemic that it could muster only seven first downs, and finished with a 1.5 yard average per pass play. Those are numbers hardly seen at college levels. Atlanta has to be thankful of a defense that took the field numerous times in less than ideal position and bent against a great rushing game from Stephens- Howling but never broke and actually turned the tide with a Babineaux fumble recovery for a touchdown. Special Thanks also should go to resigning John Abraham who kept pressure on that passing game and for the late signing of Robert McClain who led the unit in tackles after Asante went out in the first half.
Atlanta must be thankful that with Julio hobbled Roddy was reliable and that Tony Gonzalez did not retire.
I’ll also give Jacquizz thanks for his versatility, five receptions and 5 rushes for fifty one yards and to Bosher and Bryant for the machine like execution to their positions that if were talked about more frequently would mean that there are problems in those area’s and Atlanta does not need that headache.
But joy at looking in a crystal ball months ago is so clouded with worry in hindsight.
Atlanta has very good coaches, a 9 – 1 record would not be obtainable in the NFL without a lot of good execution and fundamentals that coaches must align players to in a plan for success.
So there must be worry through the staff and players that the rushing attack on offense is and has been a trouble spot even after what no doubt has been worked on for weeks now with no success.
Blocking schemes and possible tricks and wrinkles in play calling have not produced any resemblance to what the Atlanta rushing game has been trademarked under coach Smith .
Atlanta is use to a rushing game that can control the clock, and wear down the opposition.
It would give the passing game a more explosive attack which would make an already top five passing offense so much more dangerous and it allows the defensive unit time to rest and regroup.
It must be especially frustrating that the offensive line has been fairly good at pass protection but inept at opening up the lanes for the running backs. Turner the burner may not still be but he is not an easy tackle, he should be able to get two yards ninety percent of the time. If it was an easy fix that would have happened by now. Ryan may not throw five interceptions in one game again in his career, and getting Julio and Spoon healthy brings big play makers to each side of the ball. The coaches will again do homework.
The Holiday season is for giving thanks and having hope. Atlanta can hope they keep doing what is needed
each game to win and give thanks that they have a chance in the next two weeks to seal the NFC south division title. But the Falcons will be most thankful if the rushing attack comes finally to the point where the view of the team was as if looking through that crystal ball, – a great holiday wish we hope.
Happy Thanksgiving to the 9 – 1 Atlanta team.