Falcons: BYE Week: First Half Observances - Printable Version
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BYE Week: First Half Observances - RFlagg - 10-27-2011 03:41 PM
The Atlanta Falcons entered their 2011 BYE week with a 4-3 record and, thanks to a loss to Tampa Bay, sit in 3rd in the NFC South. Last season, with the BYE at the exact same time, the Falcons entered 5-2 and in sol possession of first place in the NFC South. however, there is a clear difference between the 2 seasons: Last year, the toughest part of our schedule would come after the BYE, this season, one could say we're already through the hard part. So let's look at where we stand.
The running game started strong as Turner ripped off back to back 100 yard games to open the season. However, the passing game was (and still is to an extent) sputtering. This has led the Falcons offense to a rather mediocre rating of 18th in YDS/Game. We currently rank 19th in Passing Yards per game and 17th in Rushing Yards per game. We're also 18th in Points per game.
However, there have been bright spots. In 4 of our 7 games, Turner has broken the 100 yard mark (we're 3-1 in those games). Julio Jones was putting up nice numbers before his injury as he had 2 100 yard days as well. Since Julio's injury, Matt Ryan seems to have remembered that he's allowed to throw the ball to Harry Douglas, who has put up more yards in the teams last 2 games (119) than he did in the first 5 (80). Tony Gonzalez, the ageless wonder, leads the team in TD receptions with 4 and it's looking like we are lucky he decided to come back for this season. He's currently 2nd in yards, receptions, and targets and has managed 4 receptions of over 20 yards.
Matt has had a disappointing start to the season. Yes, part of that can be traced to getting hit so much (even after 2 good games, we still rank 24th in the league in sacks allowed at 18), but Matt just hasn't seemed quite right this season as he has been unable to get in sync with his receivers. Hard to believe I'm saying that for someone who is on pace for just under 3850 yards, but he's also on pace for 20 TDs with 18 INTs. I still believe Matt is a winner (can't believe he came in the game after almost getting his ankle broken), but he needs to step it up a little bit. He's had 3 games where he broke or was close to 300 yards passing (Chicago - 319, Tampa Bay - 330, Seattle - 291), unfortunately that's more from number of throws than anything else (47, 47, 42). In these 3 games, Matt has thrown for 940 yards. In the other 4 games, he's only passed for 743.
Now, onto the offensive line, and that's exactly what they've been most of this season, offensive. While the number of sacks has improved dramatically over the last 4 games (5 versus 13 in the first 3 weeks), Matt is still getting hit way to often. Half the time he's back there it looks like he's scared he's going to get creamed, and with some of the hits he's taken, it's no wonder. However, the line has gotten much better recently and has done a fairly good job of opening holes in the running game. If they continue to gel we may just have a unit that is serviceable for the rest of the season.
Like the offense, the defense struggled early on, but has appeared to right the ship lately. The return of Babs and the emergence of Peters have helped the pass rush, as we've put up 8 sacks in the last 3 games after not getting any in the previous 3. The pass coverage has looked better as well (save a 70 yarder to James Jones and a 57 yarder to Calvin Johnson.) The Falcons remaining schedule features the numbers 32 (Jacksonville), 30 (Indianapolis), 24 (Tennessee), 21 (Minnesota) and 15 (Tampa Bay) ranked offenses scattered around 2 (New Orleans), 5 (Carolina), and 7 (Houston) offenses. This is much easier than what we've faced so far (3, 4, 5, 13, 15, 17 and 31).
Sean Weatherspoon, what an emergence. 2nd on the team in tackles (60) first in solo tackles (45), tied for second in sacks (2), first in tackles for a loss (5), tied for third in pass defenses (3), he's done it all. This doesn't include the couple of jarring hits he has that have prevented receptions (see Pettigrew, Brandon). Last season, being as injury plagued as it was for Spoon, I feared he'd have a slow start to the season. I couldn't have been more wrong as he has been making plays since the season began.
On the defensive line, things started slow with Edwards offseason surgery and Babs getting hurt. However, they seem to have turned a corner and have shown serious improvement in the last 3 games. The only downside I would say is we are not using Biermann as much as I thought we would, and his stat line shows it.
I'll start with the good, Matt Bryant has been money. He's 11-11 on FGs and 17-17 on extra points. He's set the team record for consecutive field goals made and has even racked up a 50 yarder in Seattle. Bryant has done everything we could hope a kicker would do.
Ok, time for the bad. Matt Bosher. Currently dead last in the NFL in punting average. And it's not really that close, as he's 3 yards behind Matt Turk of Jacksonville. Bosher has the worst long (49 yards) and is 29th in Net (Mainly due to his 11th ranking in average return yards). He is, however, tied for 7th in punts inside the 20 and leads in fair catches, but that doesn't excuse his otherwise dismal performance. My main reason for hating Bosher goes back to the Philadelphia game, where he booted the ball right to Desean Jackson late in the 4th. I'm honestly surprised Smitty didn't rip him limb from limb when he got back to the sideline.
I know it, you know it, we all know it. The coaching to start the season left a little (ok, a lot) to be desired. The Offense was overly predictable and the D couldn't stop anyone on 3rd down. However, that all seems to have changed recently, though, as we've seen a few things that we had not seen before. BVG is no longer rushing 3 and dropping 8 on every 3rd down (though he does still do it). Mularkey has finally discovered the "Screen" play and has actually called for it to be run. Maybe he finally realized that he's allowed to call plays created since 1987.
At this point, I predicted we'd be 5-2, and the only game I got wrong was the opener against Chicago. I had us going 7-2 in the second half with losses to Indy and New Orleans. I'm now going to alter that prediction. I still think we go 7-2 in the second half, but the losses will be to New Orleans in the Big Easy and in Houston. I actually think every game is winnable, but I see 11-5 being our final record.
RE: BYE Week: First Half Observances - SLICK NICK - 10-27-2011 03:50 PM
Enjoyed your write up. Hope we end up with that record!!
RE: BYE Week: First Half Observances - RnB - 10-27-2011 04:01 PM
This is an awesome write up RFlagg. I agree with pretty much all of it. I don't do predictions much but yours seem to make sense. +1, thanks for the post.
RE: BYE Week: First Half Observances - RFlagg - 10-27-2011 04:06 PM
Thanks guys, I actually felt I shorted it a bit in the Special Teams and Coaching sections, but I just didn't feel like there was as much to say in those.
RE: BYE Week: First Half Observances - Radical - 10-27-2011 04:19 PM
I don't get your point about our defense. We really have been doing the same thing all year, and in some games we've been victimized most WHEN we've blitzed. See the Packers game, where Rodgers was 8/9 for 170ish yards and 2 TDs against the blitz. The only real difference is that Robinson hasn't been abused so bad these past few games, Hayden is joining the action, and the defensive line has really stepped up.
RE: BYE Week: First Half Observances - Paprika Neck - 10-27-2011 08:44 PM
i say we own the gulf coast this year.
RE: BYE Week: First Half Observances - Paprika Neck - 10-27-2011 08:44 PM
at least 2/3rds
RE: BYE Week: First Half Observances - papachaz - 10-27-2011 08:59 PM
(10-27-2011 04:06 PM)RFlagg Wrote: Thanks guys, I actually felt I shorted it a bit in the Special Teams and Coaching sections, but I just didn't feel like there was as much to say in those.
momma said if you can't say anything good, at least have the decency to be vague
great write up Flagg, enjoyed it very much, and pretty much right on as far as i can see.
RE: BYE Week: First Half Observances - phocis850 - 10-29-2011 11:35 AM
We have been doing things better the last two weeks and I really think the bye came at the best time.
RE: BYE Week: First Half Observances - The Falcon Jedi - 10-29-2011 05:54 PM
You should Bleacher Report. Good write up