The win over the Buccaneers means the season isn’t lost but flaws remain on this Falcons team.
It felt great for fans and players alike to get back in the winning column but the win can only mean so much for this team. It did salvage this season as 1-5 is insurmountable to overcome but the playoffs are still a long ways away and this team still has many flaws.
The main flaw with this Falcons team is obviously the defense. With so many injuries to key players, it’s nearly impossible to have a good defense. Thankfully with the way the offense is performing, all Atlanta needs is a competent defense that can get pressure on the QB, get a few stops, and create a turnover or two a game. It’s a big ask for such a decimated defense but some coaching could help. The Falcons are usually one of the least blitz-heavy teams in the league but this year, especially with a decimated secondary, you would expect them to blitz some more. Unfortunately based on what I’ve seen Quinn and Manuel haven’t changed their philosophy much as 4-man rushes are still happening most of the time and very few corner blitzes stunts, and linebacker blitzes are being used.
The most baffling thing is the lack of corner blitzes. Through two weeks, the Falcons ran two corner blitzes with Brian Poole and both were successful. The decision to stop using them often is a strange one. Another adjustment the coaches could make, especially with a lead, is the soft zone. Despite it hurting us in almost all of our games, we continue to run the soft zone at the end of games with a lead and ultimately it just leads to heartbreak. It’s understood that the soft zone prevents long passes but it needs to be used according to the time left on the clock. If there is one minute, you can’t play a soft zone with your CBs giving 10-15 yards cushion every time. A competent will dink and dunk until they get into the red zone/FG range.
Another flaw is the running game and specifically Sarkisian’s playcalling. While the offense is scoring points, drives are being stagnated and points are being left by Sark’s insistence to establish the run, especially through toss plays. The Falcons ran the ball 22 times on Sunday but ran a variation of a toss play 14 times for only 37 yards. 9 of those came in the second half despite the play averaging less than 3 yards per carry in the 1st half. Of those 14 toss plays, only 2 went for longer than 5 yards and 5 of them went for 0 or negative yards.
During the broadcast Sunday, one of the announcers pointed something out that I don’t think has resonated with an old coach like Steve Sarkisian; “You used to have to run the ball to be able to throw but in this day and age, you must be able to throw the ball in order to run it”. Sarkisian has always had a run-first philosophy but it has gotten out of hand recently which I will detail in an article coming out soon.
Even with all these issues and injuries, the Falcons, believe it or not, are still in a pretty good place. With a win against the Giants, the Falcons would be 3-2 in the NFC and 3-4 overall going into a bye week. The next week after the bye would be against the Redskins who will most likely still be at or around .500. I am going to go ahead and predict that we will be 4-4 going into week 10. Week 10 is when I believe Deion Jones is supposed to be back and despite only being one player, that will help immensely. The Falcons winning Sunday might only seem like one win and although this team has flaws they need to overcome, the future looks to be in the Falcons favor.