I Love Vanilla, but not with my Football


Ice cream and Cake but not Football. Vanilla is bad when it’s a description to Football.
“When a great team loses through complacency, it will constantly search for new and more intricate explanations to explain away defeat.” That was a quote from Pat Riley, but I wonder how many would have guessed Mike Mularkey ?
If the 2013 Atlanta Falcons are going to make the playoffs again this year and as all in Falcon nation hope win a ticket to the Super Bowl they will have to rise up in many area’s of play from a year ago, with a tougher schedule and some prime time match ups on slate. Even with a nice draft and of rumors of Seymour coming aboard I think the defense will be challenged from opening day each and every game.
If you look at the 2013 schedule it is set up with teams who own very good offenses and led by very good quarterbacks. Nolan and company this year may be a little better as we all hope, but just look at the 2012 December 9th game footage and realize a little better may not be enough to get Atlanta back to playing in January. Cam Newton threw for 287 yards and ran for 116 also. Carolina is not in par with a New England offense we see on Prime time Sunday night, a Rogers led squad in Lambeau or even close to the best of the west we met last January. If the defense gets a little better it will be because the offense has done the same.
The Atlanta Falcon offense was a solid unit last season, a headache for even the best defenses.
But how does the offense stray away from a previous owned habit of being predictable and too vanilla?
Tough to improve the side of the ball that gave us the fifth best quarterback in yardage, two pro bowl caliber receivers each with over 1,100 yards and a tight end who was fourth in touchdowns at that position in the league. The Atlanta offense was 7th in scoring for 2012, and it is nice to know that of the six in front of them the birds beat four of them (Saints, Skins, Giants and Broncos) and did not play Green Bay and New England but they will this year. Falcon Faithful will knowingly answer the question of how to improve the offense with the running game upgrade, and we all certainly hope so. An offense that can eat clock, get short yardage first downs, keep a pass rush at bay and mix the passing game the likes that the Falcons have will have a top shot at a ticket to the Bowl. Steven Jackson springs hope, Jaquizz may even be more dangerous this year, but success ultimately falls on the offensive line and Vanilla might be the flavor of the month. The O line position battles and play will be the preseason biggest task. Could it be so simple that the pieces fall in place early, Jackson and Jaquizz hit holes and consume time of play like the days of Turner the Burner ? Bradie Ewing comes in and becomes a star. Wish and hope and pray but only time will tell.
Dirk has to keep vanilla out of the playbook and inject a few second options if things don’t go as planned which happens a lot in all sports. The Birds best weapon is flight. We can improve even a super stellar unit with a few well laid schemes. The screen pass was introduced last season and can even get better with Jackson. I strongly suggest a serious preseason look at two tight end sets. The New England team that comes in week four uses it as their biggest weapon, and Atlanta has the talent and size at the position to certainly send a few red zone headaches at the defense. The Pats use the sets nearly all for pass, but checking the size of Toilolo and Coffman the Birds can shuffle in some runs, shuffle pass plays with the extra bulk as a two option call. Whether a war, video game or football season, you really can never have too many weapons. While on the subject of weapons, the slot has to improve as a real threat. H.D is a good receiver, is at prime age, but one touchdown in 2012 must improve. Backup Drew Davis is a little bigger, a little younger, had fifty less targets and caught as many touchdowns as H.D in 2012. I’d like to see a Smitty styled competition at the slot in preseason. It only takes some sprinkles and a few chopped nuts, maybe some chocolate syrup drizzle to make vanilla a whole different treat, and that’s no Mularkey.