It’s Friday, which means you’ve nearly made it through another week. Chin up, eyes forward, and let’s hit these links.
Breaking down the Bucs
This matchup is super appetizing on paper, and even when the Falcons were terrible, I figured they’d manage to steal one from the Bucs.
What do the numbers say, though? As Kevin Knight writes, the Falcons have the season-long edge on offense and the Buccaneers have it on defense, though the way these two teams have been playing suggest neither of those things is all that meaningful at the moment.
This won’t be a huge surprise, but on paper the Falcons defense doesn’t actually match up all that well against the Buccaneers offense, with things looking even at best. Of course, that’s assuming the past two weeks haven’t revealed the true heart of this Falcons team, because then they’re going to make Winston turn the ball over six times and go out for a nice steak dinner after.
As Jeanna Thomas writes, it looks like the offense will be good to go for Sunday, at the very least, even if they’re still missing Hooper and Freeman.
Free’s contract isn’t free
From the cold, business side of football, giving a massive contract to a running back is almost never a good decision. Unfortunately for the Falcons, that’s pretty much an invariable rule, as Matthews Chambers wrote yesterday, one they’re finding out first-hand with Devonta Freeman.
Free’s fortunes this season have been largely due to poor blocking and poor scheming by Dirk Koetter, something that becomes obvious when you watch hard-charging Brian Hill unable to go anywhere against a lackluster Panthers run defense. But the Falcons have paid top-shelf RB money to Free and gotten one pretty productive 14 game season (2017), one lost year (2018), and now one so-so year with injury again becoming a factor (2019). He’ll be 28 next year and it’s fair to expect these Falcons, who have been drafting third-day running backs at a rate of one per year, to strongly consider moving on from him.
Is this Free’s fault? Not really. The Rams with Todd Gurley, Jets with Le’Veon Bell, Cardinals with David Johnson, and 49ers with Jerick McKinnon have all run into the same kind of injury/performance carousel, because paying running backs in this day and age simply doesn’t seem to work out in all but the rarest instances. The Falcons didn’t blink when it came time to give a stud young running back big money, but chances are they will the next time.
Falcons fans are feeling confident
Okay, 40% of them are. That’s still a lot more than in recent weeks, and it’s been fueled by a turnaround that would have seemed impossible two weeks ago. Another win and we might get over half the fanbase feeling their oats.