After three weeks of mind-numbingly bad turnovers and terrible penalties, the Falcons were hoping to come home and put together a clean performance for the hometown crowd. That was sadly not the case. Once again, the Falcons found early success moving the ball only to turn the ball over in maddening ways. Whether it was the Julio fumble, Ryan's awful interception, or the bad snaps from our centers - the turnovers cost us dearly. Here are some key takeaways from the game.
Young defensive players continue to get significant snaps
With several injuries to our defense today, the need for quality depth became clear yet again. Losing both starting corners was a huge blow - and we'll hopefully get them back soon - but these injuries are affording opportunities to some key young players on the team.
Jalen Collins continues to get good playing time, and so far, he's holding his own. Draft-mate Grady Jarrett continues to play well as part of the defensive line rotation. Robensen Therezie continues getting quality snaps and playing decently. When you add them to the list of other young players like Vic Beasley, Ra'Shede Hageman and Ricardo Allen, you can see the potential for this unit over the long haul. Sunday may not have gone as we would have wanted, but the foundation of this defense is beginning to look promising.
Signs of hope from the offense
I know this seems odd, given the awful turnovers and stupid penalties, but if you read between the lines there were some signs of hope for this offense. First, Julio looked as healthy as he has all season, suggesting his hamstring issues may finally be under control (for now). When he's fully healthy - like he was today - he is nearly unstoppable. Second, though it came about due to injury, seeing Justin Hardy debut in the offense was a hopeful step. While he only caught two passes, he did demonstrate some of the things that made him a sleeper pick, including the ability to catch in traffic.
Third, while the offense didn't put up many points, the ball distribution was really solid. Ryan found 10 different receivers on the day, which indicates he's making reads and getting more comfortable in the offense. Finally, Jacob Tamme came up big yet again. It's clear that Ryan is developing a rapport with him. If the Falcons are going to bounce back, the emergence of Tamme is going to be a critical factor.
So, while the offense may have ultimately cost the team this game - there are signs that a turn-around may be just around the corner. As long as they can stop the penalties and turnovers, that is.
The upcoming bye week is desperately needed
Whether it's the injuries to guys like Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, or an offense that needs to get their head on straight, it's clear that this team needs a break. Thankfully, the bye week in week 10 couldn't come at a more opportune time. The bye will be key for seeing how this team responds to some of the sloppy play over the past several weeks. It will also be an opportunity to get some of our dinged up players closer to healthy. It should also serve as the perfect time for our players to get even more familiar with the new offensive and defensive schemes, which can only help as they look to close out the season with a strong push.
What are you takeaways from the game with the Bucs?