Ok, so last Sunday's game didn't go so well. We ended up with a big fat 1 in the L column and our tremendously hyped, "high powered" offense was left touchdown-less. Falcons fans' spirits fell and fell hard. It's a tough thing to see a team we all know is capable of greatness slip into a field-goal kicking, time wasting, and head shaking slump.
The question arises: what needs fixing? Good question. Hard question to answer. I'm counting on Coach Smith and his merry band of X's and O's geniuses to find the true answer. Me? I'm just a fan and today I present to you, my fellow fans, just a few of the items I saw that needed some attention.
- Michael Turner. He looked slow off the ball. He was sluggish and too gunshy when picking lanes. He didn't see some of the gaps. He didn't adjust well. He didn't push the pile after contact. I've seen this man be in the middle of a five-defender scrum and somehow make it out high-stepping to the endzone. Where was that?
- Matt Bryant. I really have only one thing to say. We need a new kicker. Comrade, work your magic.
- Sam Baker. Oh boy. Sam, Sam, Sam. James Harrison, hero of Super Bowl 43, oxygen sucker extraordinaire, treated you like a rag doll on his way to a sack. I really don't know if its his technique, his lack of experience, or his awareness, but Baker seemed out of his element against an admittedly scary Steeler defensive line. Oh, and thanks for that hold on a converted first down. Great timing there. Of course, had he not held, I'm sure Matt Ryan would have likely had to put on his dancing shoes and pray that someone was open downfield.
- Play calling. It was obvious by the end of the first quarter that Turner wasn't going to burn anyone all day long. It was also obvious that with the Steelers stacking the box and bracketing Gonzalez, Mularkey was going to have to get creative to keep the Steeler D on its toes. Unfortunately, Mularkey's only answer was Matty Ice's no huddle offense. No statue of libertys, no flea flickers, (correct me if I'm wrong) no end arounds. Nada. Just run it up the gut or outside and have Matt try to dink and dunk his way to a first. I know it's early in the season and I know we have fifteen games left to win and you don't want division foes seeing our greatest plays, but I would have expected at least one or two "WTF" plays from our "mad scientist" offensive coordinator. Maybe it's all a ruse to win the division. Pretend to suck against OOD games and then KILL the NFC teams. I'd still rather have a win.
- Clock management. Smitty was both hot and cold on this issue. You get this with extra-conservative coaches from time to time. The hotness: down 3-0 with less than a minute to go until halftime, the Falcons use the no huddle and some spectacular medium-range passing to get within field goal distance. With 17 seconds left, Matt Bryant drills the tying score through the uprights. Hoorah! Great one-minute drill. One of the best I've seen since 2008's contest against Chicago. Now, I have to ask, WHAT HAPPENED TO THAT FIRE? The coldness: the Falcons get the ball back, the game tied 9-9, with forty-four seconds left. 44 seconds. Did Smith really not trust Ryan's no-huddle to get us the win? Forty-four seconds to drive to the 30, maybe even 35 yard line (if you want to risk that with Bryant. Shaky gamble). I think we could have done it. We did just that before the half. So why did we lose our mojo, swagger, spunk, what-have-you here? Please keep it consistent, gang.
Now chime in with your own or I'll have Kroy Biermann steal your lunch money.