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The Great Debate: Are The Falcons Capable Of A "Complete Game"?

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This man knows how to toss a complete game. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
This man knows how to toss a complete game. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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In this series of posts, I seek to find the answer to questions that are brought up around here or around the various sports conversation sites. I use a realistic, low-stat opinion to generate discussion about these topics, but I also encourage the use of stats in an argument.

As I secretly hinted in my Seattle game recap, this post is indeed about whether we are capable of putting a complete game or not.

The quickest thing I should point out is that a "complete game" in a football sense is largely a matter of opinion. It is also an opinion that could vary greatly. For instance, one person might think an complete game is 500 yards rushing, 1400 yards passing, scoring on every drive, among others, whereas another person might think that simply playing turnover free football while scoring some and winning field position is a complete enough game for them.

That's the fun of these things. You never really know what you're going to get until an individual comes up with a better idea.

So, what is a "complete game"? Are we capable of such a thing? Will Roddy White summon meteors to defeat the Saints on Monday night? Follow me after the jump and I'll give my opinion on those questions and more!

A complete game in football is hard to define. There are teams we've played, such as the Cardinals and Seahawks, where we were pretty much in control the entire game. However, we have still found things to nitpick, such as Tim Hightower's 80 yard touchdown run, or Seattle's opening drive on our surprisingly porous defense. Do temporary lapses such as those constitute the loss of "complete game" consideration?

If so, then just what is a "complete game", exactly?

For me, it's not a perfect game. I also believe a complete game is one that is adjusted based on the difficulty of the opponent. For instance, Saints-Falcons Round 1 felt like a pretty complete game to me. Were we perfect? Absolutely not, but we were tested in every phase and we held strong to the bitter end.

I also think a complete game must (obviously) be a win. If we lost, then some facet of our game wouldn't have been complete, and that's a problem.

A good team is going to get their due, regardless of whether its on offense or defense or special teams. A complete game in my eyes doesn't require a career day from Ryan, a truckload of TDs for Turner, or even something as simple as a KRTD.

A complete game to me is mistake-free football where we control field position well and we score a decent amount. I don't need to see a blowout to think of a W as a complete game. A complete game by the defense would require a couple momentum shifting turnovers as well as a few big stops along the way. It's all very doable, and we've done it many times this season as it stands.

I don't think total lockdown by the D is reasonable when considering "complete game" status. I don't think it's realistic to expect our D to shut an opposing team down time after time after time (especially the Packers, Eagles, or Saints) but if they can limit the damage and create a couple turnovers, I would consider that a complete defensive game. Letting the opponent back into the game after being ahead by several scores is a terrible failure.

On offense, it really boils down to just a few primal things: 1) Score touchdowns and 2) Avoid turnovers. Matt Ryan doesn't have to put up gaudy numbers to have a "complete game". Matty just needs to effectively manage the game. We all know he can play from behind, so I wouldn't be worried about that. The biggest thing would be controlling the clock with Turnelling and passing the ball effectively with zero turnovers.

It's tough to gauge what a special teams complete game would be. Essentially, a complete game on special teams would require lockdown, essentially. Good kick/punt coverage and ZERO TD returns allowed are always a great thing to build on, and on our side of the ball, Weems doesn't have to return every kick for a TD, but in all honesty, Weems probably plays the most complete game out of anyone on the team. He returns kicks AND makes special teams tackles. He does it all!

Now that the playoffs are looming large, I'm not sure we'll be able to put a complete game together because of the sheer difficulty of doing such a thing in a playoff atmosphere. It is certainly possible, especially at home, but playoff games become more about halftime adjustments and whose plan is better rather than just straight-up execution. If we had a truly great defense, I could see us potentially playing some complete games in January. As it stands, however, we have to live with what we've got, which isn't a bad thing by any stretch.

At this stage in the game, these games become more about imposing your will on the other team rather than just playing mistake free football. Sometimes those lead to mistakes, which can often hurt the legitimacy of a "complete game", but seriously, if we get the W, I don't care how ugly it is.

A win is a win, after all.

What do you all think? What is your definition of a complete game? Are we capable of such a thing? Has our lack of a "complete game" hurt us? Could this Saints game be an opportu

Also, Roddy just called me and let me know that he will be spawning pink Corvettes instead of meteors to stop the Saints on Monday.

I look forward to discussing this with you all!