Atlanta Falcons: The good, the bad and the ugly from Week 5


It’s time for another edition of The Good, Bad, and the Ugly from the Atlanta Falcons, as we dissect their Week 5 defeat at the hands of the New York Giants.  So without further adieu, let’s get started!

The Good – Antone Smith

Antone Smith is the best player that no one outside the City of Atlanta (and maybe Antrel Rolle) has ever heard of. He was one of the lone highlights from the Falcons in Week 5, as they managed to give away a 10-point lead and get blown out in the process. Coming into week 5, Smith had 3 touchdowns on just 13 touches for the season. That’s not all that absurd considering he is a power back and power backs usually get the ball in goal line situations, but what makes it absurd is that he doesn’t get the ball in goal line situations, and that his shortest touchdown scamper is a 38-yard gallop against Tampa Bay. His other two touchdowns? Just a 48-yard rush and a 54-yard catch.

All Antone Smith does it make plays. His 74-yard catch from the flat on Sunday was just pure speed and power. He left Antrel Rolle in his dust and literally galloped down the sideline, which, at that point, gave the Falcons a 10-point lead in the second half. You would expect a play-maker like Smith to touch the ball 15-20 times during the game, right? Well, Antone touched the ball four times. There is not a single explanation that Mike Smith or Dirk Koetter could offer that would excuse Smith only touching the ball 4 times. If the Falcons want to keep there wretched defense off the field, they need to utilize ALL of their big play guys, a group that now should include Antone Smith.

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The Bad – Robert Alford

Atlanta’s “other” cornerback was bad. Eli Manning knew exactly what he was doing when he kept throwing towards Alford (and having success). He looked slow and confused. Alford was flagged for four defensive penalties, as he was caught trying to recover from his many coverage mistakes. The biggest problem came in the 4th quarter, as Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. abused Alford on an out route in the end zone which gave the Giants a 24-20 lead.

As much as I want to blame Alford, you can’t expect this secondary to cover for 6-7 seconds. This defensive line can’t get pressure on the quarterback and they leave the defensive backs stranded and chasing. The Falcons only recorded one sack on Sunday and that came from Osi Umenyiora in his homecoming game. Robert Alford is a problem, but he isn’t the only reason that the Falcons blew a 2nd half double-digit lead on Sunday.

The Ugly- The entire second half, sans Antone Smith

The play-calling was bad, and the execution was worse. The final 6 offensive drives of the game featured 1 touchdown (from the aforementioned Smith), 2 punts, 1 interception, and a turnover on downs that officially put the “W” in the Giants column. On the other side of the ball, the Giants final 5 drives featured 1 punt, 2 touchdowns, and 2 field goals. If you are keeping track at home, that is 20 points for New York against just 7 points for Atlanta after halftime.

That was a common theme during the 2013 season, as the Falcons blew multiple second half leads, ultimately leading to their final 4-12 record. The defense was exposed in the second half, and will continue to be exposed with the current personnel. Brian Billick recently did an interview with an Atlanta radio show and said, “I can’t think of another team in the league that has less quantifiable talent on it defensively.”  He also went on to mention that Mike Nolan has been working with “smoke and mirrors” and now, he is simply just working with “smoke”.  That’s about the perfect way to describe the Falcons defense, smoke. More of a nuisance to the opponent than a threat. If the Falcons want to get back into the playoff hunt in the NFC, they will have to turn that smoke into fire. Mike Nolan may not be working with much, but he has to find a way to get more out of the defense.


The Atlanta Falcons will host Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears next Sunday in the Georgia Dome. If they want to prove that they are still a playoff-worthy team, next Sunday against the Bears at home is the time and place to do it. Jay Cutler is more than capable of tearing this secondary to shreds and dousing any fire the Falcons may have left, so at the very least, it is time for Matt Ryan, Mike Smith, Mike Nolan, and Dirk Koetter to rise up.