Nov 29, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) smiles after the game against the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Saints 23-13. Mandatory Credit: Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports
For the second time in three years the Atlanta Falcons have claimed the NFC South division title with the ‘get the monkey off our back’ win Thursday night against the rival New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay loss to the comeback player of the year Peyton Manning and the streaking Denver Broncos on Sunday.
Forget the flaws, guffaws and criticizing claws the team has had to address all year, because a Division title and a 12 – 1 record is a great accomplishment for the entire team and noting the weekend losses of San Francisco, Chicago and Baltimore to the fact that winning week to week is not guaranteed or automatic in the league. The Falcons, who are perched atop the NFC playoff picture and are on a ten day ‘mini-bye’ in hopes of getting players healthy (most notably Asante) received a little breathing room in that nest when the previously mentioned Forty-Niner’s and Bears both lost in overtime and putting the Falcons into a two and a half game lead for the coveted home field advantage for the playoffs, the subject picture which is coming more into focus. Despite the Birds playoff record the last few years, playing in Atlanta has been good for the dome team. I wonder during the ‘mini-bye’ if the coaching staff will utilize the time to take a different approach to work on the problem issues that have been discussed and dissected throughout the year that has naturally downsized the National respect for this 12 – 1 Division champ ?
Coach Smith and his group have no doubt worked hard at correcting things like the poor rushing game over the last month and a half, but heading into the final quarter of the season before the playoffs they must realize the focus and extra practice has not produced any consistency or expected results of the effort.
Might they use a different approach to attack the problem? In reviewing the New Orleans victory I wonder why the screen pass was not called on more often when the rushing game slowed after the first quarter and to slow the pass rush the Saints used in getting to close to Ryan so often.
Since there are no more secrets and surprises when opposing teams get prepared for White, Jones and Gonzalez then why not throw some Harry Douglas at them more than three targets a game ?
It may energize the offensive flow and if successful would take coverage away from the big three.
Douglas can be a factor and if not one hundred percent healthy then give Drew Davis the chance.
Mularkey is gone, the same old thing scheme must not resurface !
The extra time maybe could produce a couple of new plays that Dirk has drawn up while watching the weekend games that are not on the opposing teams study films and can be tried prior to the Playoffs as a keeper or a throw away bust. Can Jaquizz throw a pass ? How many times have we called the flea-flicker in the last two years ? Why not try a direct snap to Turner instead of the two step deep handoff ?
The Falcons rank fourth in total offense, they are in the bottom quarter in total defense (they bend) but in the Top Five (don’t break) in points allowed. They have two receivers in the top Ten and a MVP candidate at quarterback who has thrown for more yards than Manning, Rodgers , Brady or Schaub.
With two very good ball hawking safeties and a very good Kicking game the respect should start to grow for the Atlanta Falcons who are now the 2012 NFC South Champions and who are coming off a little R & R weekend to finish out the season as they appear ready to take the “next step” they had in their plan since preseason and certainly are capable of, especially in their noisy house.
Hope the coaching staff under Smitty keep that ’one game at a time’ focus because it has been a perfect scheme in looking back over the season during this weekend off. Time to look ahead !