There's one major difference between the Falcons team that won their first four games of the season and the one that has dropped two and won narrowly twice over the last month, and that difference comes down to turnovers.
Through the first four weeks of the season, the Falcons played some impressively mistake-light football, turning the ball over just twice and accumulating seven takeaways. Starting with that overtime win against the Washington Redskins, the Falcons have turned the ball over 11 times and picked up just four turnovers. That is a pretty startling swing, one that accounts for a lot of the team's struggles all by itself.
That isn't to say that the Falcons have played well and been victimized merely by chance, of course, because that simply has not been the reality. You need look no further than the Buccaneers game, where the Falcons botched a snap, botched a handoff, and threw a pick versus the Buccaneers' zero turnovers, to understand how a game can turn on the turnover.
Those of you who believe every occurrence drips with meaning and purpose will hate to hear this, but
a lot some of this is luck, because you guys apparently think I'm blaming most of this on luck. Fumble recoveries are largely chance-based, and while Ryan's thrown some bad picks along the way that have contributed to the Falcons' shaky play, one or two plays per game bouncing Atlanta's way could very easily mean the difference between a 23-20 loss and a 27-23 win.
That's your daily dose of optimism. Now let's see if the Falcons can clean up these messy mistakes.