The Falcons did a great many things very well against the Vikings and Titans. Among these was using the no-huddle offense and scoring plenty of points early. It seems that all of the progress that has been made the past two weeks went completely out the window against the Texans, and resulted in the humiliating loss. Mistakes were the name of the game. While the Falcons only lost by 7, it felt like 27.
That being said, the defense performed fairly well, but at a highly undisciplined level. There were opportunities for the defense to get off the field on big downs, but it seemed like every time they were negated by penalty. James Sanders had a heads up play where he picked up the ball off the turf and without hearing a whistle, decided to return it for a touchdown. While his play was very heads up, the actions of his teammates and coaches was not. Before the whistle was blown dead, a couple players and several coaches had crept onto the field of play. Needless to say, this warranted a penalty. Instead of being a fumble recovery for a touchdown, it was a spot foul negating the score. Falcons ball, but still, a harmful penalty.
That play was very undisciplined, but by far the most undisciplined play by the defense in the actual game is that of Dunta Robinson. Mike Peterson sits on a route in the passing game, and T.J. Yates throws the ball straight to him. It is easily returned for a touchdown. Unfortunately, on the back-side of the play completely out of the play, Robinson was absolutely manhandling the receiver he was assigned to cover. I am 100% sure that pushing the receiver around like that is not allowed within the first 5 yards from the line of scrimmage, let alone further down the field. The sleeve of the receiver was flipped over the shoulder pad, it was absolutely and completely the fault of Robinson, and he is the culprit. Since that was pass interference, the touchdown was brought back, and the Texans were given a first down. This play makes me the sickest, because it was not an honest mistake like Ray Edwards and Coach Smith stepping onto the field. This is illegal in the NFL. With a referee assigned to every eligible receiver, it is hard to get away with something, and Robinson couldn’t get away with it.
The defense was good at stopping the run early, but eventually bit too hard on the run in play-action, allowing for unbelievable passing efficiency. During the Texans two touchdown drives, Yates faked the run to one direction, and the bootlegged to the other direction without any pressure in his face, able to complete easy completions for 1st downs, or down the field. Not having Brent Grimes certainly hurt the secondary, but this cannot be placed on one player. A failure from the backside defensive ends to stay home and play contain on the quarterback cause the Falcons defense to spiral out of control. If those defensive ends played contain instead of biting hard on the run, there would have been massive pressure on Yates and several sacks. That simply didn’t happen.
The offense was awful. Abysmal may be a better word. The Falcons came out of the gates with two deep passing plays in the first three run. On each, the receiver beat his man by a significant amount and would have almost certainly been 85-yard touchdowns. Instead, Ryan was miserably long on those two throws, and they fell incomplete. A football team only gets a few such opportunities to take shots downfield, and when they present themselves, they have to be completed. Houston has very a talented corner in Jonathan Joseph, and I have no doubt that he was covering White or Jones on one of those plays. If you can beat him, those opportunities have to be taken. Ryan has to do better on the deep ball, or we will get beaten even worse by better teams.
Ryan looked skittish the entire day. Strangely enough, the best example of this was a 26-yard completion to Julio Jones. Ryan dropped back and off his back foot while falling backwards, he threw the pass. Yes, it was a completion, but he was doing everything to avoid contact. I want my quarterback to stand tall and strong in the pocket, even under pressure, like the past two games. All of the successful quarterbacks in the league deliver the pass and do not care much for what type of pressure is in their face. We NEED to see that from Ryan, and against the Texans he performed poorly.
The play calling was bad, especially the flea flicker. The key with a trick play like that is to set it up using the running game. By doing that, it causes the defenders to creep up to play the run . But if you only call one run play in the entire game previous to the flea flicker, it is completely idiotic and asinine. I hear Mularkey is on the short list for the head coaching job in Jacksonville. I hope he goes there and we hire Norv Turner.
What more can be said? The no-huddle, when used, was completely ineffective in as inhospitable an environment as Reliant Stadium? Just imagine how poorly it will work in the Superdome! The receivers hands seem to be made of stone, aren’t on the same page as Matt Ryan (as evidenced by his second interception. That pick was all on Julio Jones), and inability of the offensive line to protect in the passing game and open up holes in the run game. The only positive I really see from this game is the defense, and even they were extremely undisciplined and unable to get off the field on third downs. Wow, there is alot to work on for this team before we play a surging Carolina team. The good news is that the Giants, Bears, and Lions all lost Sunday, giving the Falcons new life in the wild-card. Hopefully everything will get ironed out, or the playoffs may not remain within our grasp.