This Sunday, 1 PM ET, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-5) travel to the Georgia Dome to face off the Atlanta Falcons (1-4). The Falcons have had a rough season so far with only win coming from a 31-24 win against the St. Louis Rams in week two. And the last five weeks the team has had to suffer devastating injuries from starters and have been forced to start players with minimal experience, if any at all.
Another problem this season disregarding the injuries would have to be inconsistent coaching. All the Falcons losses were within seven points from winning a game. So to say the least, the team isn’t getting demolished and blown out this season, they’re just not finishing. First it was not scoring in the second half, now it’s just a problem of scoring touchdowns in the red zone.
The Falcons can’t get within ten yards of a touchdown and attempt to run the ball three times in a row or throw the ball three times in a row and expect to score. The coaches also haven’t realized that the offensive line didn’t block well enough for injured RB Steven Jackson after RT Mike Johnson and LT Sam Baker left. When you have 5-foot-6, 188-pound Jacquizz Rodgers attempting to run up the middle, the most you are going to get is 3.4 yards a carry.
And what happened to Jason Snelling? He’s a 5-foot-11 and 234 pound back who can actually push the line. He should get more carries than he does and coaches should alternate between Rodgers and Snelling until Jackson returns.
Another thing that has been excruciatingly hard to watch is the pass rush from the defensive line. I’m not sure what defensive coordinator Mike Nolan thought about his defense when he saw their pass rush against the Miami Dolphins, but he definitely didn’t make sure they were better against New England Patriots QB Tom Brady and New York Jets rookie QB Geno Smith.
They were a little better when DE Osi Umenyiora finally sacked Smith in the fourth quarter against the Jets and then the defensive line started a chain of putting pressure on the rookie, but it was too late. The Falcons gave him plenty of time to throw the ball down the field. And against the New England Patriots they were even worse. It was almost despicable to have to watch them think they could beat Tom Brady without putting pressure on him. There was not one sack, no pressure at all.
But that’s not the only line that’s a concern. The offensive line’s RT Jeremy Trueblood and LT Lamar Holmes have been getting blown up off the line. Literally, they tumbled down or fell over in multiple plays during the Jets game. This is embarrassing. And the problem has only been getting worse. Sam Baker tried to return for the sake of the team but we all see where that went…another injury.
So now, the Falcons have to rely on rookie and backup wide receivers to step in for WR Julio Jones who is out for the end of the year with a foot injury. And not to mention that WR Roddy White hasn’t gotten back to 100% yet and hasn’t participated in practice this week, so far.
But after the past bye week, the Falcons signed WR Brian Robiskie to add to the list of wide receivers that are still healthy; WR Harry Douglas and WR Kevin Cone. After this bye week, the Falcons have had time to get the team on the same track and work on problems like consistency, red zone efficiency (which is currently ranked 29th in the league), pass rush, and blocking.
The Falcons should be excited though that they are playing the still winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the bye week, which should definitely be something to look forward to. And a win against the Bucs is something that is definitely possible. The Buccaneers haven’t scored more than 20 points in a game this season (average 12.8). The Falcons, even with an unbalanced team, could score 24+ points. Give them two weeks to gel together and focus on the Bucs and they have a good chance of coming away with their second win.
Let’s just say the Falcons win against the Buccaneers at home. They would begin to go on a winning streak and climb their way back to the top of the standings. The next two games after the home game against the Bucs are away games versus the Arizona Cardinals (3-3) and Carolina Panthers (2-3). If they beat these next three teams they’ll be 4-4 going against the now 5-1 Seattle Seahawks, who are going to play a tough game because lets face it, they’re looking for revenge.
The team and coaches are well aware of this and have a positive outlook on their season ahead. They’re looking forward to players coming back and growing as a team. Defensive tackle Corey Peters said Thursday afternoon, “Everybody’s kind of excited to get back at it and looking forward to getting back on the field Sunday.”