The Atlanta Falcons are a terrible football in 2013, and they're actually getting worse.
I can't take away any other lessons from this game. The Seattle Seahawks are a terrific team, and I think many of us came in expecting a loss. You just had to expect, given their narrow wins the two weeks before, that the Falcons wouldn't roll over and get destroyed by that Seahawks team. They had two disappointing losses in a row to reflect on and learn from.
Instead, the Seahawks left this Falcons team as little more than a smoking crater on the Georgia Dome turf. The Falcons were completely inept on offense, largely inept on defense and thoroughly outclassed in general. The Seahawks are one of the better teams in the NFL. The Falcons looked like one of the worst. It resulted in a 33-10 loss.
All you need to know is this: The run defense, which has been a strength, went straight to hell. Russell Wilson had an efficient 287 yards and 2 touchdowns. Matt Ryan averaged under five yards per pass, the ground game did nothing and the defense allowed over 450 yards. It was a hideous game.
It's tempting to find the excuses here, because they're ample and very real. The injuries, especially. Yet this is the third straight week where the Falcons ceased to be competitive somewhere along the way, and in this game, they weren't competitive from the very start. I honestly don't think I've seen them look worse in the Mike Smith era, and while you have to chalk a lot of that up to a very tough Seahawks team, you also have to acknowledge that this Falcons squad is a shell of what it was over the last five years. Top to bottom, they're playing lousy football.
Really, when the failure is this systemic and there's little in the way of cavalry on the way, it's hard to find the light at the end of the tunnel in 2013. We're better off realizing it's not there.
I'm not telling you anything you don't know. The Falcons are terrible, and the best thing we can do is ride the year out, hope for improvement somewhere along the way and see what the off-season brings. There's still enough here to envision a I'd advise picking up a hobby. Maybe knitting.
Brief breakdowns belief, because that's all I have the stomach for.
- Kudos to Darius Johnson, who went from UDFA wide receiver on the practice squad to catching a twelve yard touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks. It's a bright spot in a season without a ton of them. That was his only catch, but it's possible he gets more involved going forward.
- Joplo Bartu is showing some real promise as a pass rusher. He collected his third sack of the season against Seattle, driving Russell Wilson to the turf for an eight yard loss and taking the Seahawks out of field goal range.
- Paul Worrilow continues to be the most solid tackler on the team. He was in on 19 for the second straight week, which is just unreal.
- I can't come up with more positives. They exist, but you watched this game. What would you say?
- Matt Ryan was facing real pressure yesterday, but his struggles were more concerning than that. Again, Ryan was forcing throws, throwing too early and not identifying the open man when given the chance. I can reach back into my bag of reasons and tell you it's because of the pressure, not having open receivers and so on, but the bottom line is that he's not playing well.
You only need to look at the first half numbers to see what I mean. He was 9/16 for just 53 yards, an absolutely pathetic display. Again, there are mitigating factors, but I'm not going to give Ryan that much of a pass this week. He couldn't make anything happen back there.
We're rapidly heading for the worst year of Ryan's career, and I'm going to hang an awful lot of it around the injuries, the poor offensive line and the lack of a ground game. There are maybe three quarterbacks in the NFL who can overcome that many challenges. Ryan's great, but he's not that great. The Falcons will have to improve his line and ensure he has quality weapons to give him a chance at success in 2014.
- There is no ground game. The line can't run block. Steven Jackson is an outright liability trying to run behind this line. It's turning the Falcons into a one-dimensional football team, and they're no longer good enough to survive that. Without a ground game, it's going to get uglier before it gets better.
Jacquizz Rodgers actually looks like the best option at running back. The Falcons could have saved themselves a few million dollars and a lot of headaches to have a weak ground game without Steven Jackson. It's not entirely or even mostly his fault, but I can't see Jackson returning next season.
- The line allowed pressure, couldn't get anything going for the ground game and sources indicate they may actually be potted plants. Lots of positives, is what I'm saying. I never thought I'd say this, but the Falcons badly missed Sam Baker. They allowed pressure on a season-high percentage of dropbacks (worth noting that Ryan didn't throw a pick, even so), so they're actually moving backward without Ryan's longtime blindside protector.
- The defense didn't have an awful game when you consider that the offense left them on the field most of the game and couldn't provide anything in terms of points. Yet they still couldn't get a sustained pass rush going, stop Marshawn Lynch or clamp down on big plays. No free passes.
- You saw Mike Nolan try to mix things up a little bit, giving us some 3-4 looks, but it wasn't enough to stop a very good Seahawks offense from moving down the field.
- I'm still not convinced that one bad season is going to cause the Falcons to clean house, but certainly Arthur Blank is the kind of owner who hates to watch sub-par results for very long. If the Falcons continue to play this poorly in the coming weeks, maybe things change.
Ultimately, though, I think we're just in for a rough ride without sweeping changes coming. The Falconsare going to chalk this season up to injuries and not having enough talent on the roster. That's going to earn the FO and coaching staff considerable grief, all of it justified, but it's probably not going to earn them pink slips. Finally, inevitably, they must make changes to their roster and their approach to turn this back into a winning football team.
I'd be stunned to see any major changes right now. The Falcons will just try to play better and actually win some games from here on out. The question is whether they can do that. I don't have an answer for that one.
Game MVP: No.
Game Theme Song: Glum silence.
One Thing to Take Away: We're watching and the Falcons are playing for pride the rest of the way. Nothing more, nothing less.
Next Week: One of the few games you could reasonably favor the Falcons in. The Buccaneers are up next. Head to Bucs Nation for more.
Final Word: Sigh.
More from The Falcoholic:
- Falcons vs. Seahawks Second Half Open Thread
- Falcons vs. Seahawks: Osi Umenyiora Is Your Player To Watch
- Falcons vs. Seahawks 2013: Game time, TV schedule, online streaming and channel
- Healthy or Not, Steven Jackson Wasn't 100 Percent Against the Cardinals/Panthers
- Forgetful Richard Sherman Does Not See Roddy White as a Challenge