Last night had the feel of a knockout, drag-out title bout between a dastardly heel and a righteous face. I had to check my cable bill online real quick just to make sure I hadn't been billed for a Pay-Per-View event. The stream of anxiety-induced foulness that flowed from my twitter account will likely still be floating somewhere above Elijay when I sit down in my office in Midtown today.
The Falcons found a way to win despite essentially giving the game away with terrible secondary play, a lack of pass rush, and an O Line that was slightly less hole-y than a block of swiss. The home crowd was vicious, the refs were atrocious, and the turnovers? Delicious.
Follow the break for the full break down.
- Tony Gonzalez. Jesus. How old is he again? Amazing catch after amazing catch. This game alone should be enough to get him in the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. His back-of-the-endzone catch will be a play that's recalled the entire season.
- Julio Jones made a couple of amazing catches in traffic. Worth all those picks, yet? Talk to me after he scores a TD.
- Michael Turner continues to be the lynchpin for this offense. 111 yards, 61 of those in ONE. RUN.
- Ball swarming defense. We created turnovers and took advantage of them. Loved it.
- Ray Edwards. Though otherwise nonexistent in the pass rush, he picked up a fumble and returned it 64 yards. For a man his size to even attempt to run with a football, he gets full marks.
- Kelvin Hayden. In his first game in Falcons Red and Black, he had an INT. Awesome.
- Matt Ryan, Offensive Coordinator. It is a thing of beauty when Matt runs our offense. He seems to make the right reads, the right adjustments, and calls the right plays. Two scoring drives were engineered by his no-huddle, shot-calling skills and it was those two scoring drives that put us on top to win the game.
- The Offensive Line. It's mostly Sam Baker, who was blown up by Trent Cole on seemingly every play. Still, Reynolds and Hawley looked overmatched out there and will need to step up their techniques if they plan on keeping Matt Ryan alive by week five. Baker...well his time in Atlanta may not be long for this world if his level of play does not improve.
- The secondary. Outside of Kelvin Hayden, not one of our DBs did much of anything out there. Dunta was almost always three to five yards off his man and, despite one great screen-blitzing-tackle, Owens (brought in after Hayden exited with an injury) looked as dismal as ever. This first team unit somehow managed to earn Mike Kafka, third string QB, a 100.00 QB Rating.
- Lack of sacks. Yes, I know Vick is mobile and slippery and scrambly, what-have-you. Still, we were on him almost always a step too late. Our rush needs to get through blocks quicker if we hope to see more pressure-caused INTs like the one Hayden pulled in.
- Matt Ryan, Happy Feet QB. Ryan made two very dunderheaded throws tonight and both were picked off. First, he throws to a bracketed (one defender in front, one behind) Julio with a window of about half an eyelash and, of course, it's picked off. Then, he ASSUMES Gonzo will chose route option A (outside cut) and, when Gonzo goes option B (inside slant), the ball is already on its way to the outside. Of course, it gets picked off. These decisions were rushed ones, mostly because Ryan had to run for his life. His blindside was as well protected as a French port of call. Blame to Baker is a given but Matt should have thrown the ball away or made quicker reads in each case.
- The refs. No, they don't make the ugly column this time, though they damn well deserve it. If you watched the game, you'll already know what I'm talking about. If you didn't, let's just put it this way: Abraham gets called for accidentally tapping Mike Kafka in the back with is helmet. Half-the-distance to the goal, Philly inevitably scores after the Falcons had them stopped on 3rd and 3. A few plays later, an Eagles player hits Matt Ryan after releasing the ball helmet first. Helmet-to-helmet contact is made. No call. Feel that outrage? Multiply it multiple times. This reffing crew missed more calls in an off-the-cradle rotary phone. It was nightmarish and had me cursing up a storm. I'm not quite sure my own cat will come near me after what I yelled tonight.
- Defensive play calling. I'm not quite sure this whole zone coverage mess is working out. We need to expand our options. Our DBs are entirely too predictable and miss the most obvious of assignments.
- Offensive play calling. Quizz Rodgers was sent up the gut three times. Only one of those times did he manage to get more than 2 yards. It wasn't until Matt Ryan took over as OC that our offense actually managed to look halfway decent. That's not a good sign.
- Bosher. Cut him. Cut him now or rue the day. Two of Philly's touchdowns came off of HORRENDOUS Bosher punts, one an 18 yard shanked punt when Bosher was punting from his own endzone. Another punt went a measly 28 yards and put the Eagles on the Falcons 35 yard line. Don't even get me started on his inability to kick the ball off a tee into the endzone with the added help of the new kick-off rule. We need to find a new P/K and we need to find one fast.