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Falcons vs. Buccaneers Recap: The End of the Line

The 2-8 Atlanta Falcons are an awful football team, injuries or no. The only question is whether they'll be blown up.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I don't know if this rock bottom, but I can't see the sun and this is an awfully uncomfortable surface.

If you were to predict the outcome of this game, you probably would not have said the Falcons were going to be blown out by the lowly Buccaneers. You would not have thought that this team could or would look so wretched after three miserable games. You would have thought there would be something to hang our hats on.

But, injuries? No. I want to sincerely apologize for using that as a way to explain this team's woes. I want to apologize for arguing--though I reserve the right to argue, as do we all--that this team was a couple of healthy pieces away from reeling off a few wins. I want to admit I was wrong to pull the track record card, because it's clear enough that regardless of what came before, serious adversity has left this team completely helpless.

I'm done defending this team in any way, shape or form. I've said all along that I don't believe sweeping changes are coming because Arthur Blank and Thomas Dimitroff are trying to be patient and look at the team through the prism of continued success. I'm just not sure you can remain patient in the face of such overwhelming, crippling ineptitude. The Falcons beat the Buccaneers 31-23 just a month ago, and now they're getting smoked by that same team. These Falcons look like a shadow or a shadow of the 2012 team, and while we came blame some of that on simple regression and injuries, it's clear that they're just not very good. The worst part? It's not clear to me that Mike Smith was even that bad in this game. I think you can argue with his willingness to make changes to the lineup and dial up a few ambitious plays that he was actually better than he's been all year.

When I told you guys to drop all expectations for this season, some of you took it as an attack on your pessimism, but it wasn't. It was an advisory in case the Falcons turned in a performance like this, a heartbreaking game where the team got blown out against a team that was supposed to be inferior, and a hope that the Falcons would do enough to give us a little bit of optimism. It turns out that even the most pessimistic among us weren't going deep enough into the well, because this is an abysmal team. I have to admit that I've been wrong about this team more or less from pre-season on, and I apologize if my unwarranted optimism drove you toward optimism as well. The Falcoholic regrets the error.

What comes next? A lot of losses, obviously. Some awful play, of course. Teeth-gritting as we make it through the rest of the year and hope for better days in 2014. Aside from that, I honestly don't know. Everything I thought I knew about this football team is so much vapor at the moment.

Very brief breakdowns below.

The Good

  • Steven Jackson has been much-maligned around these parts and out in the general kingdom of Falcons fans, but he had a solid game yesterday.
  • Antone Smith came in and gained 88 yards on two carries. I know the Bucs were kind of just holding on to the lead at that point, but holy crap.
  • The Falcons made changes. It's overdue, but benching Thomas DeCoud, moving Joe Hawley to center and giving Darius Johnson more opportunities. Ryan Schraeder Anything that helps for 2014 at this point is worthwhile.
  • Harry Douglas had another fine game against the Bucs in a losing effort. He has their number.
  • Many fans continued to comment on this thread despite being covered in horrible chemical burns from an exploding Falcons team.

The Ugly

  • Matt Ryan is going to be defined by this four game stretch for quite some time. Never mind that the line was killing him yesterday or that his receivers weren't making plays. Ryan was still not excellent, and if you've ever doubted him, he's given you a ton of ammo.

    Ryan's not going anywhere. He'll play better next year with (one hopes, please Football Gods) a better line and his weapons healthy. But he's never going to be Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning, and we'll have to grapple with that. You can still win with him, but he can't do it alone.
  • Dominique Davis came in, played decently well hurt. This season blows.
  • Roddy White doesn't even look like himself. I don't know if he's just not healthy or if he's aging, but he can't get open consistently, he's not making catches he's made in the past and he fumbled. That proved particularly costly.
  • Peter Konz was a train wreck, and the rest of the line was merely below average. It led to Ryan being sacked and harassed all game. But hey, at least they could run the ball!
  • The pass rush didn't exist.
  • The Falcons had too many penalties.
  • The coverage was terrible. Mike Glennon went off in this one, putting up a game that was downright heroic by Glennon criteria.
  • Thomas DeCoud may have allowed his last big play for the Falcons. He was benched in favor of seventh-round rookie Zeke Motta, which is both long overdue and incredibly depressing.
  • The Buccaneers kicked an onside kick and it worked. In the second quarter. And they attempted a fake punt pass, which failed. What the hell?
  • I thought that Arthur Blank had more or less resigned himself to a terrible season, but this is a little beyond the pale. I don't think you'll see a bunch of firings after this week, but certainly no one's going to be stunned if the Falcons depress the plunger and choose to blow a chunk off of this team. Not even me.

The Wrapup

It was awful and the Falcons have the Saints on Thursday night. I can't stretch it out any more than that.