Atlanta 7 at New England 23
October 22, 2017
By: Allison Smith
Apparently, the Atlanta Falcons were not ready for Prime Time. The long awaited Super Bowl rematch occurred on Sunday Night Football. Except, even with all the questions, story lines, and hype, it truly was not a rematch. The New England Patriots came in with 2 losses and the 32nd ranked defense. The Falcons came in…off back to back winnable losses and played their worst game of the season.
The Patriots started with the ball, had an 11-play drive, encompassing 5 penalties between the 2 teams. Very sloppy start on both sides. The Falcons defense forces the punt and seem to have a good plan on the night. Then, the offense goes 3 and out. Once again, before the defense can even sit down, they are back on the field after a Matt Bosher 35-yard punt.
That’s right, not only did Bosher have another bad punt this week, Matt Bryant had one field goal blocked and another hit the goal post. That should have really been your clue this game was over early.
The Patriots really did not do anything spectacular, except stay on the field. Which we have found is incredibly affective. You don’t give Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman a chance to explode. You tire out the defense. So, it doesn’t take allot to outscore the Falcons. The defense was able to force 3 field goals.
On the good side, Ju finally got his first touchdown of the season. Which I am sure means more to statisticians than to Julio, it was so late, too late in the game to help. Julio also reached 8000 yards, the 2nd fastest receiver to do so. Defensive positives include a big sack by De’Vondre Campbell for a 7-yard loss on NE’s second drive, a Vic Beasley, Jr. sack, and a Robert Alford interception, which, was of course returned on a defensive penalty.
The story of this week is the question of what has happened to our Falcons?!? The entire NFL seems to be in a vortex of confusion this year. Except for Cleveland and San Francisco (both still winless), everyone else is up and down any given week. If a team started off undefeated, they’ve had 2 losses, if they started off in the hole, they are on a win streak.
So, the Falcons are not out of anything yet, even sitting in third place of the NFC South. Luckily, they have not played anyone in their division…yet. In 2 weeks, they start with the Panthers, who are suffering their own woes. Apparently, both teams’ set of fans are calling for the heads of their respective Offensive Coordinators. Mike Shula, who has been with the Panthers as long as Cam Newton, while Steve Sarkisian is in his first season with the Falcons.
The real confusion seems, we heard that Ryan greeted Sark on Day 1 with a hand shake and the current playbook. Seems that Sark lost that, and Dan Quinn doesn’t have his to share. With all of the offensive weapons at his disposal, Ryan should be able to have more success than he is having so far. Ryan admitted he is not playing his best, yet, and there are some throws he would like to have back. This week, one such includes the incomplete low pass to Jones in the end zone, that allowed the defender to knock it away. In the simplest followship of the playbook, even I can remember that everyone got at least one pass a week. Austin Hooper had 1 catch on his single target, and the former leading receiver, Tevin Coleman had 1 target.
Ryan and Quinn both commented on Monday, that they felt confident in the play calling throughout the game, including two 4th down attempts near midfield, and the 4th and inches jet sweep to Taylor Gabriel at the goal line. Only 1 of those was successful. One has to question why you would go for a 4th and 7 and 4th and 6 at midfield, and why run a jet sweep to Turbo instead of rushing the best running back in the league up the middle in a short yardage situation. Once again, my personal call for Ben Garland, this time as a full back opening the way for Free. Freeman gained 47 yards after contact and forced 4 missed tackles on a mere 12 carries. How do you not give him the ball at the goal line?
Apparently the issues with the offense is due to execution and inconsistency. Ryan’s errant throws, tipped passes, missed blocks, dropped passes. Without focusing on the run game, they cannot open up the passing game. Once again, Coleman and Freeman did not have 100 yards rushing combined.
So far, in six games, Ryan has thrown for 300 yards, in one game. Jones has had 100 yards, in one game. Follow me here…..Freeman has rushed for over 100 yards….in one game. There is clearly no offensive rhythm. First and second downs are marginal at best, but converting on third down has become nearly impossible, as it is almost always 3rd and long.
Missed tackles, ill-timed penalties, lack of turnovers, i.e., inconsistency is haunting the defense as well.
I may not know what the answer is, but I think that many of us do not think anyone at The Branch does either. Everyone seems to think they are having great practices, working the process, just need to fix these couple of issues. Except these issues, are different every week. The O did not turn the ball over, and the D had less missed tackles, which is execution. But, are they really coming to the field as prepared as they should be? Are these play calls the best for the members we have?
If so, how are the Atlanta Falcons, with only additions to the Super Bowl team, this chaotic and bad?