Sep 22, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Atlanta Falcons guard Justin Blalock (63) in the first quarter of a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
The Atlanta Falcons offensive line has had it’s share of difficulty in the four games played so far but with eighteen trips to the red zone in four games I’m to believe they are not to blame for all that has gone bad. Four trips inside the twenty per game could have the birds, if all weapons were at hand, and with a couple of Bryant Field goals from mid range, standing with a realistic 27 points per game average, or better.
Moving the ball is not the issue, it is the execution, play calling, fingertip misses down in that area, and some good opposing defensive play that can share the blame with the ‘O’ line. Matt Ryan and Dirk Koetter themselves have been quoted the last couple of days sharing the load as well. The red Zone problem can be fixed. Stephen Jackson’s return would help, and Dirk is going to adjust a few plays in the book for that area. Plus, who does not think Matty Ice has not learned and won’t make adjustments from mistakes seen in film?
The real, very real, problem is the other line. The defensive line. In four contests they have a total of seven sacks. In a passing league against the likes of Brees and Brady that just can’t cut it. It is worse knowing five of the seven sacks were in the Miami game where after playing very well, they tired in the last four minutes as Tannehill got hot with “short passes” and scored the winning touchdown. Pressure is what the defense has to get on the quarterback in this aerial league now. The secondary has been handicapped by bump, touch and contact rules. Even a veteran secondary has trouble in coverage if the quarterback can get three or four clear looks before deciding where he’s throwing. Pressure on the quarterback also is a recipe for turnovers and getting the ball back in the hands of the offense creating more chances at points.
This problem, may not be so easily fixed, which is my real concern. Nolan and Smith know very well the pressure advantage and I’m sure they have tried a number of plays, stunts, and calls that have shown this area our largest hole to fix. If there were an answer it would have been implemented already.
As surprising to all and as bad as anyone thinks the birds 1 – 3 record is, all concerns are fixable with adjustments to the playbook, getting healthy, a little better execution and a game or two more of experience for the rookies, except the pass rush. The pass rush is a constant, where if you can generate it then you can keep it going or even improve it. But if in four games it is almost non existent, and you have tried all your personnel, then what and how do you correct it ? That’s the big mystifying, perplexing puzzle, confounding
and bewildering problem which has the Falcons season on the Line.