The Falcons sit at 6-1, a record few fans thought would be possible before the season. Yet, it still feels like this team is struggling when it shouldn't be, despite the positive record. In fact, frustration is setting in with some fans with some key members of the team, starting with Matt Ryan. I've said it elsewhere, and I'll say it here: it's so much better to be able to work on your issues with a 6-1 record than a 1-6 record. With that said, here are my three key takeaways from the game.
The pass rush is going to take time
Let me get this out of the way first: Vic Beasley is doing better than some people realize. He was "nearly" there several times against the Titans, and were it not for some egregious holds that didn't get called, he's finishing the game with 1 or 2 sacks. While I do believe the Falcons pass rush has improved, I still don't think it's good - and that's ok.
The reality is that fixing our woeful pass rush was never going to happen in just one season. Rookie pass rushers normally make a big leap in year 2, which bodes well for what we'll see out of Vic in the future. The team will also have another round in free agency and the draft to find additional help.
While there has been definite improvement, the reality is that this pass rush is going to take another year or two to really reach it's full potential.
Ryan is off, but it's not all on him either
Of all the things to discuss after a win, talking about why your franchise QB is struggling is an odd one. The reality, though, is that Ryan is not playing his best football right now - despite the 6-1 record. I've already made my thoughts clear on what is going on with Ryan, but the conversation is continuing. While he definitely had some bad throws on Sunday, I don't think the low score was solely on him.
First, losing Hankerson early on in the game certainly didn't help. Roddy had some decent plays, but still remains a mystery within this offense. Tamme had some good catches, but also missed some opportunities. Even Julio dropped a few passes that he normally pulls in. On top of that, numerous holding penalties stole away big plays and put our offense in poor situations.
Ryan is not absolved of some of his poor throws and poor choices in the game, but the reality is that the entire offense contributed to the low score on Sunday. While we do need our QB to improve as the season progresses, we also need the rest of the offense to bounce back and play better ball overall.
The Falcons are the only team holding the Falcons back
All of that leads to this point: the past few games have been ugly wins, but this is not the same team as in 2013/2014. This team is currently shooting itself in the foot and still winning. When you look at each of the last few games, it has not been the other team stopping us. Against the Saints, we had the ball in the red zone three times in the first half but turned it over repeatedly. Against the Titans on Sunday, we had some incredible runs and some good plays only to see them called back by holds. The Falcons are winning and they're not even playing their best football right now. Once they clean these things up - and I believe they will - we'll begin seeing this team closing out games sooner, instead of taking it down to the wire.
What are your takeaways from the Titans game?