The Falcons did what they haven't done since mid-September: they won a game. Say what you will about individual elements of this game - the third quarter, mental mistakes, stupid penalties - this team desperately needed a win and got one. Regardless of who it came against, it still counts in the same W column at the end of the season.
But what did this win really tell us? Is there anything to build off of going into our game next week at Arizona?
To be clear: the Buccaneers are a very bad team. They're giving the Jaguars a challenge for worst in the NFL. And yet, they found a way to make this an uncomfortably close game. Tampa Bay has some great players on their defense, and some talent on offense as well, so it's not fair to say the Falcons should have won convincingly. However, the Falcons - yet again - demonstrated an ability to let teams back in during the third quarter. Additionally, the Buccaneers helped the Falcons out tremendously, using a nearly 9 minute fourth quarter drive to net just 3 points after repeated penalties.
The Falcons defense continues to be a major issue - especially in the second half. They allowed the rookie QB to convert two fourth downs on the aforementioned drive - and that was without Doug Martin, who went out earlier with an injury. While individual players like Bartu and Trufant had good games, the defense as a whole is still struggling to generate consistent pressure and to lock down on third and long opportunities. Unless the plethora of rookies playing on defense can dramatically improve their learning curve, they are going to be an achilles heel for the season - even if their long-term potential looks promising.
As for the offense, Matt Ryan looked great behind an offensive line that seemed to take another 1/2 step forward. Ryan finished the game with over a 148 passer rating and 3TDs - and this was without Roddy, Julio and SJax. If this team is going to go on any kind of winning streak, it will be because he carries them.
Going back to the Jets game, it's obvious the Falcons have focused on improving red zone scoring, and it has showed. While two games is not evidence enough, it's the beginning of an encouraging trend for an early season struggle.
Additionally, Harry Douglas had a huge game, despite being the clear #1 WR for the Falcons. He registered career highs and found a way to get open despite seeing additional attention. It's an encouraging sign. Likewise, Ryan was able to find Darius Johnson twice for 24 yards and Drew Davis made a fantastic one handed catch - his only one during the game.
While a win is a win, there are still plenty of things to be concerned about. It's obvious that this team is having to claw and fight for every yard with this injury depleted roster. And struggling to snag a win from the lowly Bucs at home doesn't help build confidence. But if the Falcons can trim back on the stupid mistakes - especially on punt returns - this team may be able to string enough wins together to reach - and maybe surpass - .500.
For now though, we'll take the win - no matter how ugly it may have seemed.