It’s not time to panic. Despite the god awful football we saw played yesterday, the Falcons still had an opportunity to win it. I’d argue they should have had another chance, were it not for the missed defensive holding call on Taylor Gabriel at the end. There’s a ton of stuff to clean up and we need to get key players like Ryan Schraeder and Vic Beasley back, but it’s better to be 3-1 and working on issues than 2-2, 1-3 or 0-4. I fully expect this team to bounce back - they have too much talent not to - so I’ll reserve my panic if we see these performances after the bye with a fully healthy team.
This team has a serious aversion to sensible play calls in critical, short yardage situations, doesn’t it? I’m disappointed in the way we played. We could’ve - or perhaps should’ve - still won the game, but this game exposed some of the uglier weaknesses of this team. Without Julio and Sanu it was always going to be tough, but if Coleman and Freeman are both WR-ish running backs, why aren’t they out there? Defense still is not generating enough turnovers, with only 2 in 4 games. Both of them were against Rodgers, of all people. I’m still not sold on the defense. If Tyrod Taylor doesn’t air mail a few throws, we’re probably blown out of our own building. In year 3, and for all the talk of depth and defensive line rotations, etc., I expect better; not a 19 play, 11 minute defensive drive when you need to pick up your offense.
I have no doubt the Falcons are good, but they’ve only briefly flashed greatness this season. Maybe the bye week is coming at the perfect time, and giving the team a little more time to figure out what needs improvement. The defense looks improved, but injuries are mounting and the young guys like Duke Riley and Damontae Kazee are big weaknesses. The run game is dangerous, and so is Julio Jones, but no one else has consistently been a force. It’s a little disappointing, but if you check out the rest of the NFL right now, there’s zero dominant teams. Someone needs to step up soon, and the Falcons are in a prime spot to do exactly that.
How is it we can feel so uninspired by a defense that only allowed 16 points and one touchdown? Conversely, how are we talking about a Falcons loss in which the Falcons defense only gave up 16 points? Also, should we really be angry at an offense that lost its two best receivers in the same game and was still able to drive the field and threaten a win?
I know we’re not supposed to panic right now, but I’m starting to feel less ambivalent about the multitude of tip ball interceptions Matt Ryan is throwing. He’s forcing passes again, and he’s doing so because his pocket isn’t clean. I’ll stay calm for now and not make any large scale assessments about play calling because it’s still painfully early and the line has changed what can Sark can do, but I don’t feel great about anything, especially the things everyone is telling me are fine.
The big picture: the Falcons were already without Vic Beasley, Ryan Schraeder, Ricardo Allen and Courtney Upshaw even coming into the game, with Julio Jones and Jack Crawford both trying to play while banged up. Neither of them could finish, and Sanu had to leave early as well. So after that unbelieveable blown fumble call handed Buffalo the lead, the Falcons were trying to come back without five starters (including both starting receivers) and two key defensive rotation players. That’s a tall order when you’re playing against a pretty good opponent, and Atlanta almost pulled it off.
I’m in the typical post-game rinse cycle, where I’m deeply frustrated in the minutes and hours following a game, and much calmer about the outcome once I’ve slept on it. There’s no point in denying that it has been difficult to figure out just how good this Falcons team is, but they’re among the league’s better teams in any category you choose, they’ve had some very unlucky turnovers, and they’ve suffered injuries to key players on a scale we simply didn’t see a year ago, especially this early. As I wrote Monday morning, I think they’re fine.
The Falcons are staring 3-13 in the face.