For the first time since 2009, the Atlanta Falcons have lost back-to-back games. This is also the first time Matt Ryan has lost in the Georgia Dome to an AFC team since 2008. After 1/4 of the 2013 season, the Falcons are 1-3; their worst start since 2007.
Besides the records, the 2013 Falcons and 2007 Falcons have absolutely nothing in common. The Atlanta Falcons of 2007 was a team who had just witnessed their franchise quarterback go to prison for dog fighting and they replaced him with a talentless quarterback. They also featured a coach who would quit on them half way through the season, and a hopeless Roddy White. The 2013 Atlanta Falcons feature a franchise quarterback who behaves nicely off of the field, a coach who has led the team to plus-.500 record seasons since being hired, and an all-star Roddy White with an electrifying partner. So what's the problem?
Last night's game against the Patriots highlighted the problem(s).
On paper, the Atlanta Falcons look stacked on offense and the defensive potential is through the roof. During the offseason, I said the only thing that could mess this team up would be injuries.
Atlanta signed Steven Jackson to fix the running game; but Jackson has only played just over one game as a Falcon due to a thigh injury. Credit Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers for filling in for Jackson nicely, but defenses aren't as intimidated by those two backs as they would be of Steven Jackson alone.
The undisputed leader of the cornerbacks, Asante Samuel, was out yesterday due to an injury as well. The Patriots had rookie receivers on the field, and Atlanta countered with rookie cornerbacks. Rookie receiver, Kenbrell Thompkins had 127 yards receiving against rookie corner, Desmond Trufant.
Linebacker Akeem Dent also left the game with a knee injury. The linebacker corp cannot afford any more injuries.
Second problem-redzone offense:
Once again, the Falcons failed to score touchdowns in the red-zone. I am beginning to call the red-zone the "dead-zone" or "kryptonite" because that's exactly what it appears to be. On the opening drive of the game, the Falcons drove the ball inside the 20-yard line. They ended up with a 1st and goal from the 6-yard line and ran three pass plays in shotgun formation. I do point some blame on offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter, but the offense has too much talent to not be able to punch it in for a touchdown.
Even at the end of the game, the Falcons get into the red-zone, needing a touchdown to tie the game, and failed to score again.
Head coach, Mike Smith, can say that the red-zone offense will be fixed all he wants to; but the offense isn't scoring in the red-zone and this makes Mike Smith look like a liar. I know it sounds harsh, but is what I'm saying false?
Third problem-lacking the sense of urgency through the ENTIRE game:
In an interview with Rodney Harrison, Roddy White said that Atlanta lacks a sense of urgency. Right before last night's kickoff, Tony Gonzalez said that Atlanta needs to finish and play with a sense of urgency. This shows me that the players are aware that they need to step up in the 2nd half of ball games and play as if the season is on the line. So why aren't they doing those things? Honestly, I don't know. However, I do know that Falcons fans are frustrated with the way the Falcons are playing right now.
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P.S- I will be counseling at a school-sponsored camp for the first half of next week (Oct. 7-9.) Therefore, I cannot make a blog immediately following the Falcons' game vs the New York Jets. Right now, I'm thinking about doing a blog wrapping up the Falcons 2013 campaign heading into the bye week. Stay tuned!