'Tis the season for loud, vociferous arguments about the 4-10 Atlanta Falcons. Rather than dwell on those—it's not like we can escape them—I'd like to talk about what we learned from this sloppy contest.
As you can imagine, I'll be keeping this relatively brief. I can only watch everything from the first quarter on so many times before my eyes roll back in my head, so you're getting Choate Notes today. Deal with it.
- This line is like a water bed. You were a kid once, so you jumped on a water bed. When your tiny hooves struck the surface, you noticed that water had to go somewhere else, creating a wave elsewhere. In this analogy, suck is water and the Falcons offensive line is the mattress.
On Sunday, for the first time basically all year, the right side of the line performed admirably. Peter Konz had his first good game, Ryan Schraeder was quality and Joe Hawley was fine in the middle. Naturally, that meant Lamar Holmes was a choo-choo explosion on the left side, while Justin Blalock had arguably his worst game of the year.
There's reason to believe a couple of young guys are going to step up and turn themselves into something useful for 2014. It's not clear this line is going to play well as an entire unit with only two games left. In fact, I'd bet against it.
- Desmond Trufant is stability. In a season where very few things have gone right, Desmond Trufant is out there every week providing above average coverage and deflecting passes. His deflection skills give Admiral Akbar pause.
It matters. The Falcons have to feel confident at this point that Trufant can go into next season as the team's top cornerback, which eliminates a potentially big, pricey need for a team with plenty of them. I will continue to rave about him and I dare you to stop me.
- The turnovers are coming. Now the Falcons must capitalize. Judging by Mike Smith's comments in his Monday presser, the Falcons aren't getting gobs of turnovers entirely by accident. Some of this is luck, of course, but there appears to be a conscious effort to make things happen.
That's great. Last year proved that you can get by on a roughly average defense if you're opportunistic enough. The problem is, it only does you so much good when you squander your opportunities on offense. The Falcons need to figure out a way to keep drives moving by running the football effectively and connecting on passes. Sounds simple, but it's been anything but.
Of course, it might help is the offensive line was better, but I've been wailing for that in vain.
- Zeke Motta is not the answer at free safety. It's easy to trick yourself into believing the young player with little experience is going to come in and kick ass, as we've discussed before. Motta most assuredly did not do that.
You can't really slam the kid for playing poorly at a position he's not ideally suited for during his first career start, but Motta was terribad in coverage. He just doesn't appear to have the instincts necessary to survive out there and help the cornerbacks when called upon, and it's good the Falcons were able to see that firsthand.
Long-term, you're looking at a capable special teamer who may be able to surprise some people as a strong safety or maybe even a linebacker. As a free safety, though? No.
- Man, this team is awful. When you force seven turnovers, win by only one point thanks to a failed two point conversion and make a ton of comically inept mistakes and you've improved, you know you're watching one of the worst Falcons teams in recent history.
I don't think I need to say more than that.