Man, there's something going on up here that ain't right... —Brother Ali
Normally I'd say something semi-inspiring or vaguely profound here, but I've found that I don't have the energy. I climbed a mountain of woe following this game, fighting off the forces of terrible football, and then I just fell off the other side of said mountain and into a pit of despair and beer. So forget that noise.
No, this was the kind of loss that you can't run from and can't make excuses for. It makes you truly doubt the strength of your beloved football team during a time when you'd hope your faith would be reinforced. It really, really sucks, is what I'm getting at. With a critical injury and poor play all the way around, a playoff spot seems more like a distant possibility than an immediate one, and now we've got the New York Giants coming off their bye week. It's not getting any easier, folks.
Buckle up and let's head over this waterfall.
- Michael Turner was having a stunning game indeed before the evil football gods struck him down. At the pace he was on, 200 yards was not out of the question, as was a more balanced attack which could have either led us to victory or kept us in the game until the bitter end. If he's really going to miss any significant time, we're probably boned.
- That said, Jason Snelling did his able best to keep us in it. If Jerious Norwood can come back, an attack featuring Snelling and Norwood wouldn't be so terrible as to make me want to gnaw my arm off. As a matter of fact, it might provide the kind of balance that is so desperately needed in the absence of Turner and Matt Ryan's neutron star level of implosion.
- This was actually a pretty great effort from both Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White, who piled up 150 yards between them on a day where Ryan was misfiring. Gonzalez in particular absolutely abused the Panthers cornerback who was unlucky enough to draw the short straw in coverage. If the passing attack is ever going to really get going, it's going to be on the backs of those two.
- On a day where the defense was pretty lackluster, two players (and okay, one of them did his work on special teams) really stood out. First off, Erik Coleman earned his seven tackles by routinely getting in the way of the Panthers offense, particularly early in the second half, and deserves some kudos. Then there was Chauncey Davis, who leaped up and blocked a John Kasay field goal, keeping the Falcons in the game until they blew it again.
- Michael Koenen can boot it. Glad to have that guy around.
- Matt Ryan. If you look at his first few games, when he looked calm and collected and the occasional overthrow could still be laughed off, you would be hard pressed to believe he was the same quarterback now. I don't know what's going on here, frankly, and beyond increased pressure I wouldn't presume to guess what's going on in his head. All I know is that he was overthrowing receivers a lot yesterday and because of it he threw two crippling interceptions. He looks rattled and his feet are so happy I thought his cleats were smiling. I still believe fervently that Ryan will be a very, very good quarterback in this league for a very, very long time, but that time is not right now. If we're going to grab that elusive winning season, the coaching staff needs to figure out what the problem is as soon as humanly possible.
- Michael Turner's injury. I know I said this once already, but have you thought about how much trouble we'd be in without him? In the early weeks when Ryan was firing bullets all over the field, we could've survived a couple of weeks without him. Now, it's going to take a phenomenal effort from the rest of the team to fill that hole. I really hope they can do it.
- I know there was an issue with the snap, but my normally boundless patience is wearing thin when it comes to Jason Elam. If he was a young kicker who was struggling, like Steve Hauschka of the Baltimore Ravens, I'd implore the fan base to stick him. Those guys can and often do get better over time and can provide long-term value to a franchise. Where Elam's only a couple of season removed from the end of the line and the team is hanging on to its playoff chances by a thread, we can't really afford to have him miss any more key field goals. It's time to at least think about auditioning some other kickers.
- While execution was the major issue Sunday, you do have to wonder about the coaching staff. Is it that there's not enough talent on the defensive side of the ball, or is that BVG can't put them in a position to succeed? Is the Falcons' uber-talented offense just not clicking, or is Mike Mularkey incapable of calling plays that maximize their talents? I don't really know, honestly, but those are questions which have to be raised.
- Speaking of defense....well, never mind. I don't even want to get started on the defense.
Game MVP: Suggest one in the comments. I'm leaning toward Michael Turner for his Herculean early game efforts, but I'm almost tempted to put the award on hiatus for one week.
Game Theme Song: This recap was gloomy enough that I can get away with a song titled The Funeral, right?
One Thing To Take Away: The remaining schedule is going to be difficult indeed.
Next Week: The struggling New York Giants, who are coming off a bye week and will have our total annihilation on their minds. Yippee! Be sure to check out Big Blue View.
Final Word: Crap.