Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
After the disastrous start to the year it was nice to see the Atlanta Falcons kick off the second half of the season with a victory, even if it was against the lowly Bucs. However, don’t let one victory fool you, these Falcons still aren’t good and while the team is currently trying to heavily promote the ‘1 game out of first place’, don’t let that detract from this teams deficiencies. If by some dark magic the Falcons do end up winning the NFC South and making the playoffs it will mean almost nothing. The NFC South is the worst division in football this year and it’s more than plausible that a record below .500 will end up taking the division title.
Having started in the manner in which they have it wasn’t the teams record that was going to determine the coaches fate but the manner in which they played, and this is where the Bucs game comes into play. The Falcons did win but the performance against the Bucs was still substandard. The Bucs are arguably the worst team in the NFL this year and it’s not too farfetched to suggest they could lose out from here on in, and yet they still had the Falcons sweating in the dying moments of the game.
Everyone was very excited by the pass rush this past week but in reality that had a lot more to do with the Bucs disastrous offensive line than this so called Atlanta Falcons pass rushers. Osi and Biermann both had a lot of success when lined up at the right defensive end position and this was largely because of the revolving door the Bucs had a left tackle. Both Oniel Cousins and Kevin Pamphile saw snaps at left tackle and they both seemed determined to replicate Jake Matthews’ week 5 performance against the Giants. Both tackles were absolutely atrocious and any pass rusher in the league would have had success against this pair. So enjoy it while it lasts but don’t expect the pass rush (especially Biermann) to have continued success past this week’s Panthers game.
On offense the main issue was missed opportunities. Ryan missed a number of throws, the most notable being the missed TD to Julio where Jones had toasted the corner Jonathan Banks. The offensive line did hold up fairly well but this was against a Bucs defensive line that outside of Gerald McCoy was playing journeyman and nobody’s. Moving forwards it wouldn’t be a surprise if Matthews, Schraeder and Stone all started to struggle as they come up against better opposition.
Stone is a player many people are excited by but so far he hasn’t shown enough to suggest he is anything more than a backup. Unlike Peter Konz (who doesn’t have an athletic bone in his body) Stone has enough athleticism to get out and make a block in space but apart from that he still needs to show he can hold up as an inline blocker, particularly vs a team that sends more than 4 pass rushers, which the Bucs rarely do.
Much like the first meeting between these two teams the Falcons walked away with a victory but only because the Bucs allowed it, the Atlanta Falcons simply didn’t earn it. Moving forwards the Falcons will have to play much better if they plan on winning any more games, and as we saw in the first half of the season, nothing is guaranteed with these Falcons.