The Falcons have to win this game to make up ground on the Saints and in the Wild Card race. They're not going to concede that the season is over after five games, and frankly they should not. I do find myself hoping they won't trade future assets for a wide receiver, however. Here are three burning questions for Falcons-Bucs and the quest for 2-4.
- Can the Falcons build a pass rush? The secondary has been remarkably solid outside of Thomas DeCoud and Robert McClain, and even McClain seems to be improving. If the Falcons can get after the quarterback, they'll make the unit look better than solid. The fact that the Falcons still haven't figured out how to generate a consistent pass rush, but they have to if they have amy hope of winning.
Mike Nolan needs to dial up more blitzes, guys like Jonathan Massaquoi must step up and the Falcons need to think about how they can get Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu opportunities. Since they're still pushing hard this season, it might be worth poking around the market, though as I said the other day, I'd like to avoid giving up too many assets.
Ultimately, this Falcons' defense is going to struggle to stop anyone without a pass rush. Even Mike Glennon.
- Will the line make incremental improvement? I'm not convinced the Falcons are going to make any major changes to the line coming out of the bye week, especially considering that Peter Konz and Lamar Holmes are young players with upside who need the playing time. I can't imagine Sam Baker is going to be healthy enough to make an impact right away.
So we're talking about week-to-week improvement. If the Falcons can get to "serviceable" along the line, it would greatly improve the offense's chances of moving down the field and scoring touchdowns. Again, maybe there's an acquisition that could help this line, but I seriously doubt one will come without the Falcons spending some serious draft capital. If the Falcons stand pat, they just need Holmes and Konz to improve, Blalock and Reynolds to keep playing solid football and they can sort of pretend that Trueblood isn't there. It helps that the Bucs don't have a world-beating pass rush.
- How will the Falcons compensate for the loss of Julio Jones? Still a giant question mark. The Falcons will be down Julio Jones and possibly Roddy White heading into Week 7, and if they're also missing Steven Jackson, this offense is going to have an interesting look. By interesting, of course, I mean terrifying.
Going forward, we need to see if the Falcons can make the passing game hum without Julio. We'll be finding out soon.
What questions do you have coming out of the bye week?