October 14, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws a pass in the second half against the Oakland Raiders at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons beat the Raiders 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
This Atlanta Falcons team has a bunch of potential. The offense can be outstanding, as exemplified by the first three weeks of the season, and several other examples in the other three games. With Matt Ryan distributing the ball decisively to his outstanding play-makers, there is virtually no limit to the heights that this offense can reach.
The Falcons defense has a bundle of talent as well, but it doesn’t have the same kind of potential for dominance that the offense has. They have been very effective at creating turnovers, playing the pass, and making defensive stops when the absolutely have to.
But let’s make one thing clear. This defense will not be confused with the ’85 Bears. They aren’t particularly strong against the run, something that is crucial for defenses. Without the ability to consistently stop the run, even the best team can give up big plays in the passing game. The Falcons are 21st in total defense (367 yards per game, 143 on the ground and 223 through the air), and while they aren’t giving up ungodly numbers through the air, the run sets up the play-action game, and allows each one of those passing yards to be extremely productive. Not one of those yards have come in throw away situations.
The Falcons defense has been outstanding due to its ability to be effective in obvious passing downs and at creating turnovers. I suppose opportunistic would be the word to call this defense. Against the better teams in the league, those turnovers are crucial, but it wouldn’t be a bit of a shock to see them give up 24 points to those better teams.
This Atlanta team is built around the offense. The ability to move the ball effectively and efficiently, ability to hit on the big plays, and playing with a lead are very important. Sure, the Falcons can come back and win from a large deficit, but with the talent on this team, there’s no reason for them to not continuously play with a lead.
With the defense playing the way it is, the Falcons offense needs to be able to put points up in bunches on a consistent basis. The performance that Matt Ryan & Co. put on against the Raiders isn’t close to what is needed. Games like those against Kansas City and San Diego is what we need in order to be successful.
The Falcons offense needs to be great on a consistent basis. They have a quarterback who is capable of winning an MVP award. They have outstanding wide receivers, a solid running back, and a Hall of Fame tight end. They can and should move the ball and score on any defense in the National Football League. But if they have any more offensive performances like the one against Oakland, this team may not go very far at all.