Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Much like last week, and the week before, this week’s game tape makes pretty grim viewing for the Atlanta Falcons. Aside from a few glimmers of hope (Massaquoi, Antone), there really are no positives to take away from this game and moving forwards it’s hard to see where the next win is going to come from. Before we delve into the tape lest first outline the main issues with this team and how, and if they can be fixed as we head into the heart of the season.
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The real problem for the Falcons is that the offense is misfiring. The reason it’s misfiring is because Jake Matthews is banged up and is therefore a liability at left tackle. Gabe Carimi always has and always will be a liability as long as he’s starting, and finally Peter Konz is, well he’s Peter Konz, he’s an abysmal football player who shouldn’t even be on the roster at this point. With the offensive line banged up and giving up pressure Matt Ryan and Dirk Koetter are having to gameplan in such a way that keeps Ryan from holding onto the ball too long, as anytime the offensive line is leaned upon, they let Ryan down. This is obviously an issue on third down, particularly third and long when the defense is able to pin its ears back and get after Ryan. A poor offensive line isn’t completely disastrous, several teams in the league get away with one week in and week out, so why can’t the Falcons?
The main reason the Falcons can’t escape from this poor o-line play is that the defense is awful and therefore the team is getting behind early in games, which in turn means they need to score points, which results in the running game being abandoned and the offense becoming very one dimensional, and in truth easy to defend.
When Atlanta starts throwing the ball opposing teams are able to play a lot of deep zone, therefore taking away the deep shot while also generally sending safety help to whoever is covering Julio. With Julio effectively double teamed Matt Ryan (at the moment) has the option of throwing to; Levine Toilolo, Roddy White, Devin Hester and generally any one of Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Devonta Freeman, Antone Smith, Patrick Dimarco or Eric Weems. While you may look at this list and think it’s more than respectable, the problem for the Falcons is almost all of these players are dependent on someone or something else if they are going to be effective, or ‘win’.
Roddy finally looks 100% healthy but he’s still struggling to consistently get open, Hester is a nice 4th WR to have but he is not a legitimate slot receiver, Toilolo is the worst starting TE in the league. As for the rest of the players, they all are useful players with valuable skillsets, however, none of them is a top end talent who is able to consistently get open and make plays. The fact is that once you make Atlanta a throwing team all you have to do is take Julio away and you effectively hobble this offense to the point where they can’t score consistently enough to keep themself in the game.
If this Atlanta Falcons team is going to have a chance at winning then the offensive line needs to seriously up its game and until Jake Matthews gets healthy this is unlikely to happen. What would really help is if even when this team falls behind they don’t abandon the running game. Koetter needs to make sure he makes teams respect this rushing attack as it will slow down opposing pass rushers enough to the point where Matt might have some time in the pocket.