Well…on the losing side once again. Unfortunately this time to bitter division rival Tampa Bay. Not to worry too much though, yet. There were enough positives in this game to still be optimistic. There were also, once again some negatives that are becoming all too familiar. Tampa is a good young up and coming team though, so even though it hurts to lose the 5 game win streak we had over them, its not like it was the 2008 winless Detroit Lions we got beat by. One thing is for certain though, the Falcons cannot continue to lose to NFC teams, especially divisional foes if the season is to end in a playoff berth.
Lets start with the bad and work our way back to happy talk. The offensive line has been, well, offensive. They are constantly getting knocked off their blocks and collapsed into Ryan. The two main culprits are RG Garrett Reynolds who is starting for the first time this year, in place of Harvey Dahl and 4th year starting LT Sam Baker. Both have struggled immensely, but it’s not just them, everyone has had their issues. One thought is that center Todd McClure missed the first two games after a late off season knee surgery. That made two positions with new faces for the first two games, which can be tough to over come, especially since McClure makes most of the line calls. Without McClure, LG Blalock would have to help out C Hawley (in for McClure) which leaves Baker all alone against some ferocious pass rushers. Now that McClure is back hopefully they can get things worked out. However there are rumors swirling that some changes could be coming along the line. This scares me because one of the most important things for an O-line is continuity and if they make changes, well there goes any little bit of continuity they could have. But sometimes you have to make changes because certain people may never workout. Either way I trust Mike Smiths decision, with his track record its hard not to.
Matt Ryan has been severely affected by the issues along the line. In less than a quarter of the season he has been hit 21 times sacked 13 times which is over half of last years total. This has in turn given him major happy feet. At the first sign of pressure he starts to panic and stops looking down field, that kills the timing of the play and bam he gets hit again. As its hard to blame him for this after so many brutal hits early on, he has to get it corrected and help the line out, or he isn’t going to make through the season (seriously). One more knock. On a critical late 4th quarter 4th and short, Matt had TE Tony Gonzalez wide open on a short out route, he chose to throw it to rookie RB Jaquizz Rodgers who was double covered, of course the ball was incomplete. It appeared that he had made his mind up who he was going to before the snap. In the NFL you just can’t do that, defenses are too smart and good at disguising what they are doing.
Some good news! Even after all the dismal talk Matt still passed over 300yds for the second time this season. He had two receivers go over 100 yards, White and rookie Jones with his first 100 yard game. Harry Douglas also caught 5 passes. Ryan is spreading the ball around well. The no huddle attack seems to be working out really well also, we need to get into it earlier in the games.
The defense played very well, coming up with two picks and only giving up one touchdown. They were very efficient at stopping the Bucs with short fields after Atlanta turnovers. No sacks in the game, but there was still some pressure, not enough but QB Josh Freeman is a big guy thats hard to take down. Safety Thomas DeCoud came up with a big int and an all around good game back in his starting role after losing it last week.
WEEK 4 AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Thinking about this game, I was like, here comes an easy win. Seattle has some major deficiencies on both sides of the ball. They are near the bottom of the pack in offensive yards passing, rushing, and points scored. We all saw what happened to them in week two vs the Steelers (L24-0). Defensively they aren’t very good either, I mean they gave up 33 points to the Niners. But when i dug in a little bit i realized that in most of the stats, the Falcons and Seahawks are quite similar, almost eerily. Both teams have a 1-2 record, both teams have sacked opposing QB’s 5 times, both QB’s have been sacked alot (Ryan 13, Jackson 14), both QB’s have about a 60% completion ratio, both teams are giving up a 70% completion ratio, both teams have a -2 turnover ratio, both teams kickers are perfect in field goals on the season, and theres several more.
The good news is that Seattle has a lot of trouble getting in the endzone (only three times this season) and a lot of trouble keeping teams out of the endzone, both defensively and on special teams. They have given up seven TD’s two of them being returned kicks, and i know that pro bowl returner Eric Weems is licking his chops to take one back. If the Falcons can just play their normal mistake free style of play and get away from the penalties (23 this year already) that have plagued them this year, then this game should come up in the win column.
To reiterate PLEASE PROTECT OUR PRO BOWL QUARTERBACK! We need him.