The Falcons sorely need a win against the Jets. Not only is this one of the easiest games on paper left on the slate, but it would prevent the Falcons from falling into a 1-4 hole that would be extraordinarily difficult to climb back out of.
To do that, they'll need to—stop me if you've heard this—correct a few issues. I wanted to take an early crack at three things the Falcons need to fix if they're going to triumph over the Jets in Monday Night Football for Week 5.
- Get a pass rush going. The Jets have a woeful QB situation right now. Geno Smith is turning the ball over like it's on a spit, and while he's likely going to be quite good some day, he's a rookie quarterback who struggles against a quality pass rush.
It's time for Mike Nolan to abandon any scheming that puts Jonathan Massaquoi ten yards away from the line of scrimmage. It's time to get Malliciah Goodman more involved. Do anything and everything to get after Smith and fluster him so you can get some of those sweet, sweet turnovers. The game can turn on those.
- Get Ryan sorted out. I personally think Ryan has been excellent most of the year, but the constant pressure is clearly getting to him. Against the Patriots he reacted to footsteps both real and imagined by rushing his throws a bit, and he sailed several as a direct result. Again, you can blame him or not, but something needs to be done.
The best solution would be to ensure that he's being protected and giving him the chance to throw a few deep balls. If he's not feeling a ton of pressure early, he can hopefully get into a groove. It's not going to be easy with the line scuffling, but Lamar Holmes did look significantly improved in this second game and Justin Blalock had a rare positive grade from Pro Football Focus. If the left side can keep him clean, it could go a long way.
- Solve the red zone woes. Mike Smith finally went for it on Sunday against the Patriots, only to watch the execution fail. That wasn't the major problem. The major problem was that the Falcons went just 1 for 6 in the red zone again.
Whether you want to hang the blame on Matt Ryan, the receivers, Dirk Koetter, Mike Smith or prevailing winds, it's clear that the Falcons have an uncanny ability to stall out in the red zone. They need to mix things up in the passing game and get the run more involved, because the Falcons are one-dimensional and mistake-prone inside the 20. That has to change.
I'm sure you've got plenty of other ideas. Hit me with 'em.