ATLANTA, GA- The Atlanta Falcons (2-4) narrowly kept their season alive by taking down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-6) 31-23 last Sunday.
As we have seen in every Falcon’s game so far, there have been very obvious good aspects, and some glaringly bad tendencies to take away from this game. Let’s stick with only the good reasons first then the bad will be evaluated.
Very obvious reason number one; not only did the team need this win to stay alive but Georgia fans state-wide needed this. The Georgia Bulldogs just lost to Vanderbilt, a feat that the Tennessee based University has not pulled off in ten years. The abysmal defensive play and injury-riddled rosters almost seems to be an exact replicated situation for both teams. True fans of the game understand how crippling this feels. It’s good to break the losing streak mentality on the professional level.
While I understand that college football and the NFL are two different creatures, one thing remains constant, it’s football and it’s no fun losing. For those that have stopped keeping track, with the win the Falcons are in 12th place in the NFC just above the Washington Redskins. Next week’s game will be against the Arizona Cardinals (3-4) who are in 11th place in the conference.
While it is true that not all the points were scored by the offense this week, it was encouraging to see Matt Ryan was still able to move the ball and did not waste too much time doing so. He completed 20-26 of his passes for 273 yards. The team as a whole only had the ball for 22:11 seconds partly due to their success on passing downs and also because of their failures running the ball. I’ll touch more on the latter soon.
The Falcons had a hard-working wide receiver that never really had an opportunity to shine until somebody got hurt, and he’s a deep threat to boot. Harry Douglas looked good against a struggling Tampa Bay team. It would be interesting to see what would have happened if the Buccaneers let Darrelle Revis actually play man-to-man instead of trying to utilize his skills in a zone defense. However, I’ll take 149 yards and a touchdown every Sunday. As long as Douglas can burn the cornerback and safety when they bite on underneath routes, Ryan will be asking, “Julio who?” by season’s end. Exaggerations aside it’s nice to find another option.
Rushing from scrimmage
Jacquizz Rodgers scored two touchdowns during the game so this must be a good reason. If that’s the thought that was going through your head then you’d be dead wrong. Between Rodgers and Jason Snelling the team only rushed a meager 30 yards on 18 attempts. With as hard as the running back tandem has been working this is an unacceptable stat line. This spills over to the third down efficiency, in which they only converted 3-9, as the offense becomes too predictable.
The Falcons did their best to try and match their division rivals to see who could give up more free yardage. With nine penalties that resulted in the loss of 101 yards they came close; the Buccaneers just managed to beat them with 11 penalties for 103 yards.
From the performance indicated on the field there are a few things to keep going forward. The team lives and dies by the more exotic blitzes. This leaves the Falcons vulnerable to the big play as evident by a few of Vincent Jackson receptions. If the Falcons don’t want to get burned they must learn how to produce pressure on the quarterback without sacrificing any members in the secondary to do so.
The team produced a win against a winless team, that’s good but not great. In order to have a longer win streak they are going to have to get Rodgers ripping out the backfield. He has been getting better and running hard, but the holes just don’t seem to be there. Either way, both backs are going to need more than seven or eight carries in order to make anything worthwhile happen.