It's hard to keep things in perspective when so many things tick you off. But maybe Falcons fans need it more now than ever, considering what we saw on Sunday. In a game with virtually no value, Mike Smith vowed to play his guys to win the game. And while most of us expected that meant our starters would start, few of us thought it would mean for the entirety of the game.
Here's the long and short of Smitty's decision to play the starters the entire game: it was a bad one. I agree with getting starters some reps - as you don't want them to have a 3 week lull going into their first post-season game - but playing them for all four quarters seemed like asking for trouble. Unfortunately, we got it.
The Bucs tee'd off on Ryan all day, landing several vicious sacks/hits that made me cringe and yell "pull him" repeatedly, TD record be damned. Also, Dunta Robinson and John Abraham both sustained injuries during the game. While it looks like both "should" be ready for the first post-season game, one has to wonder how healthy Abe is going to be. It would have been nice to have him at near 100% and now with an ankle injury, you have to wonder if he'll even be close.
The "momentum" wasn't attained either. For whatever reason, the Falcons looked flat and the schemes decidedly vanilla. On the plus side, we did see several very good runs out of all 3 of our backs - which needs to be sustained into the post-season. Michael Turner showed some notable burst on a few runs and one can only hope that he shows the same in two weeks.
But one of my biggest frustrations is this: we missed out on a great opportunity to see some of our young guys get really good snaps against quality starters who are playing for something. We didn't get to see Holmes at LT, or see Konz slide over to C. We didn't get to see Sidbury or Massaqoui on the ends, or Robertson get meaningful time in the middle. It would have been nice to see Dominique Davis get some snaps and see if Antoine Smith can run against a good run defense. We didn't see any of this, because our coach played our starters all 4 quarters in a meaningless game. We could have had great tape on some young guys to carry into next year. Instead, we get none of it.
Thankfully, our squad does get a very needed 2 week rest before facing either Minnesota, Washington or Seattle. We'll need it, as 2 of those 3 have the types of QBs that give us fits and the third team has the best running back in football. And right now, the Falcons are 0-0 with all the opportunity in the world.
One more thought : Mike Smith's teams have not lost back-to-back games since 2009. Smitty has been one of the best at taking a loss and using it to its fullest to get the most out of his team. Let's hope he keeps that record up.