That game reminded me of a fistfight between two really old dudes. Sure, it's a fight, but they're swinging so slowly and so pitifully that it's both boring and embarassing to watch. Eventually one of them is going to get knocked down, but by that point you're filing for the exits. I guess what I'm trying to say is that that game totally sucked.
I'm definitely most disappointed that I have to criticize the two worst parts of the team from last year all over again. For all the good things I saw from Petrino throughout the preseason, I did question some of his personnel moves. The most glaring one today turned out to be pounding Warrick Dunn over and over again into one of the league's better run defenses. Norwood had 33 yards on only five carries, which suggested to me that he could've possibly been more effective. It certainly wouldn't have killed Petrino to try it; if he had, I certainly would've been less inclined to blame him regardless of the outcome. I also wasn't a big fan of Petrino's/Hue Jackson's play calling for Harrington. He doesn't have a great deep arm by any stretch of the imagination, but even when the team was down by a lot they kept trying to dink and dunk their way up the field.
Speaking of Harrington, he's not getting a free pass. His first interception to Kevin Williams smacked of desperation and poor decision making, and the second one to Antoine Winfield was only a bit more defensible. Overall I thought he was better than his final stat line, but he's going to have to air it out more often to have a chance of carrying this team. He also really needs receivers who aren't going to drop the ball, a problem I kinda hoped the team would've solved after being chronically embarassed by it last year. White had his moments, but once again he and Jenkins didn't impress me with stellar route running. Jenkins had one drop in particular that made me want to twelve gauge the screen.
Special teams and defense are more defensible. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to a talented running back, and Adrian Peterson gave a lot of Vikings fans a glimpse of hope for the future. The kid has a ton of talent. Given that and the way they shut down the Vikings most of the day through the air, I'll give the defense a passing grade for this one, but they're going to have to step up to keep Maurice Jones-Drew and David Garrard from scrambling all over them. I think Brooking and Boley in particular looked pretty smooth out there, and we'll need them to be if the Falcons are going to do damn near anything this year.
Speaking of doing damn near anything, why Matt Prater? I don't want to come down too hard on the kid given his jitters and the fact that he later made a 45 yarder, but that first miss wasn't even close. I'm still puzzled with Petrino's decision making; he stuck with veterans in some places (Dunn, Lewis Sanders) and then promptly dumped Billy Cundiff based on a tiny span of time with Prater. Maybe they see something in the kid I don't, and I sure would welcome him if he can become that rare breed of consistent kicker than can hang around for a while. I just didn't see it tonight.
There's not much for good news here, but Laurent Robinson really does look like the real deal. In a game where nobody stood out, he flashed the kind of speed and awareness that are increasingly making him intriguing to me. If Jenkins and White can't put it together consistently, don't be surprised if L-Rob is sitting a lot higher on the depth chart by the end of the season. It was also really nice to see Crumpler in there being the steady veteran force he always is, especially because I was worried he would be limited by his injuries. I also have to applaud DeAngelo Hall, who had a really nice pick and generally played well. But that's really about all the praise I can muster.
If this sounds more muted than my usual criticism, it's probably because this is still just the first game. It's hard for me to give up on the season after one pathetic display, even if it was the kind that makes you want to dive into the shallow end of the pool. The whole team still has a couple rolls to get out of jail (I love Monopoly) before I start really rolling on them. I hope they take advantage of them.
Game MVP: Adrian Peterson; for us I guess it would be DeAngelo Hall.
Theme Song: Truth Is- Brother Ali
One Thing To Take Away: This team is clearly not ready to make a lot of noise just yet.
Next Week: The Falcons run into a potent defense and mobile offense in the Jaguars. That doesn't sound good on paper.
Final Word: Put your pitchforks and torches down, ladies and gents. It's not time to panic yet, but there's plenty of reason to be concerned. Pray that this was a fluke.