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. The questions have been asked, and an answer has been obtained.
"'Early to bed, early to rise' makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise!" thought Matt Ryan on Saturday. It was only 7:30, but Matt had been up since 4:30 that morning studying the Packers defensive schemes. He was tired and figured he would turn in early. He also encouraged his teammates to do the same. After all, it was his lucky ritual he started before big games. He sent out a team-wide "Night." text and went to sleep.
The dream was lucid. He was throwing passes left and right. Packers defenders were running into each other and could not bring down the surprisingly agile Matty Ice. On one particular deep ball that sailed all 100 yards of the field, Roddy White drew a defensive pass interference call in the end zone.
"BRRRRRRRRING!!" came out of the referee's mouth.
"Huh?" thought Matty. That was strange. Referees don't speak telephone.
"BRRRRRRRRRRING!!!" the referee said again. Even the referee was starting to get confused at this point.
"BRRRRRING!!! BRRRRRING!!! BRRRRRING!!!" yelled the referee. He had a confused look on his face when-
Suddenly, darkness befell him. The phone was ringing. What time was it? 2:30 am? Who would be calling at this hour?
"Hello?" Matt said sleepily.
"OH MY GOD, DUDE, OUR PLAYOFF GAME AGAINST THE PACKERS WAS LAST NIGHT!"
"WELL, YEAH. WHO ELSE WERE YOU EXPECTING? OUR PLAYOFF GAME WAS LAST NIGHT!"
"....Are you serious?"
"...But...who played for us? Did we forfeit or something?"
"REMEMBER THOSE CRASH TEST DUMMIES I MADE THAT LOOKED LIKE US THAT I TRIED BRINGING TO LIFE BY CACKLING FIRE AROUND THEM? YEAH, I USED THOSE."
"WE LOST, DUDE. 48-21.......THEY DID REAL GOOD THOUGH, DUDE. CRASH TEST DUMMY ABE EVEN GOT A SACK! I WAS SO PROUD OF THEM."
"Wait....you watched the game?!? Why didn't you call everyone?"
"HELL YEAH, DUDE. IT WAS AWESOME. HEY, YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO WAKE UP 53 GROWN MEN? IT WOULD'VE TAKEN ME ALL NIGHT."
Did that story sound ridiculous? I hope so, because that's the equivalent of the mental fortitude that was used on the Packers on Saturday night.
As you all know, I have been trying to keep a positive spin on the situation, which almost isn't like me, but it's good to be positive sometimes. Today, however, I'm going to be a little meaner. I don't think any of what I'll say today is undeserved, and I think some of you should know that, while I think we should keep a positive outlook on this, I'm not against grilling the players/coaches for what they delivered to us.
We could conjure up a million reasons why we lost the game on Saturday, but I'm going to do a little grilling of my own this time. I might be a bit cliche here, but we'll see how it goes.
How about a little game of WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?
Mike Mularkey: MM, what were you thinking when you decided it would be a great idea to lull everyone to sleep by running Turner up the middle repeatedly in the regular season? You did so much lulling, everyone forgot Saturday was a playoff game, and you did the same thing! I can't imagine the Packers in their film study. "Gosh, they sure do run it up the middle a lot. You don't think we'll really fall for this, do you? They're going to be sneaky all game long and run it outside a lot." ....Right. Look, I hear pretty good things about you. Trust your players to do their jobs. Bring out those tricky plays you're known for and let those guys do their thing. We're gonna keep you, from the looks of it, so I expect bigger and better next year.
Matt Ryan: Matty, what were you thinking when you agreed to roll out to the left on that pick 6? Play call, shmay call. If anything, you know the guy calling plays should take a back seat to your no huddle prowess, so why do it? I really liked how that 5 receiver tight set looked....except 5 receiver sets are supposed to SPREAD THE DEFENSE OUT. When you're all bunched up like that, you're only helping the defense! DUH! (Upon further review, the rollout would allow the routes to develop for longer, which would, in essence, spread the field. However, it's silly to do that, as it lead to a dumb play because the DBs had all day and their brother to sit back and read you.)
Brian Van Gorder: BVG, what were you thinking, PERIOD? "Donut Zone Defense" does not work unless you're winning and need to cover the sidelines, but when have we been in that situation, EVER? I've never seen a defense get more carved up than the travesty that was put on the field on Saturday. Actually, I'm not so sure I remember the DEs dropping into coverage that game....wait a minute...THAT couldn't have changed anything, could it? Wait...who drops DEs into coverage? WHOSE IDEA WAS THAT? The only thing you changed on Saturday was how many different ways you could give up 20 yard completions. I was appalled. We're talented enough to do better, and you know it.
Mike Smith: Coach Smith, I think you're a great coach. I think you'll have many more great years to come with us and I look forward to every single one of them. That being said, what were you thinking not having the team ready to play?? I even vouched for you the week of the game! I honestly don't think the team was ready to play. I don't place the blame solely on your shoulders. Heck, I can't, really. It was a total team failure. That being said, NONE of the Falcons were ready to play, not even our punter! Scratch that, Special Weems and his special teams were ready, for the most part.
The rest of the Falcons: To all my beloved Falcons, I will continue to cheer for you no matter how good or bad it gets, but I still have to ask you...What were you thinking? Did you get complacent because you defeated the Packers the first time? Were you nervous? Afraid? Were you all EUGENE ROBINSON-ING before the game? Honestly, I really approve of the apologies some of you guys sent out, but a game so anomalous deserves some kind of explanation. Even if you told me you weren't ready to play, I'd quickly forgive you. I'd rather you all be honest with me, anyway.
Truthfully, I've lost a lot of my hateful edge that I carried with me the day after the game. It was difficult to be angry at the team for long, even if it was truly the worst game I've ever witnessed. We will get another chance next season. I'll really start to worry if we don't make any progress next season.
I had originally planned to write a cheery, optimistic Great Conclusion once our season ended, even if it was without a Super Bowl win. However, I had to change my plans because we put out such a flop against the Pack. I had to include some grill time because of how ugly it was.
I gathered a pretty good opinion of how everyone felt from Part 1, but today I'd like to see what you all think about what will happen this offseason.
MM and BVG wouldn't be a part of our team if they weren't solid, intelligent coordinators. Do you think that changes will be made to the offense and defense? Or do you think we'll try to keep things plain and simple as they are now? Is it reasonable to expect that MM and BVG will make changes? I expect MM to do what we've been expecting all along and really let Matty loose. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen, but I for one will be one of the first to speak out if something doesn't change.
What do you all think? What kind of changes should we expect this offseason? I look forward to discussing this with you all?
(Also, feel free to participate in the "What were you thinking?" game. Please keep it clean, and make it as original as you wish!)