Atlanta Falcons: The good, the bad and the ugly from Week 8


You have to blame someone. You can’t have a loss like yesterday and just blame it on circumstance and bad luck. During the important part of the game, the coaching staff and the players for the Atlanta Falcons played and coached about as poorly as possible. A 21-point halftime shutout turned into a nail biting 4th quarter where anything that could possibly go wrong turned out to do so. Without further adieu, let’s get into the Good, Bad, and Ugly from the Week 8 loss to the Detroit Lions.

The Good – Red Zone Efficiency

One of the biggest weaknesses with this Atlanta team over the past few years has been their red zone efficiency. They will drive the ball 50 yards only to be stymied inside the 20-yard line. The play calls were predictable and would often result in a field goal or a turnover. Yesterday was different.

In the first half, the Falcons had the ball inside the red zone three times and came away with three touchdowns. The first red zone conversion came on the opening drive when the Falcons drove 80 yards in just over 5 minutes, and that drive was capped off by a 7-yard pass to Devonta Freeman.

After a Lions punt, the Falcons drove back down the field and Bear Pascoe caught a 1-yad pass to put the Falcons up 14-0. However, the Falcons weren’t done scoring in the first half. After a few possessions for each team, Steven Jackson punched it in from 1-yd out and the Falcons took a commanding 21-0 lead in the second quarter and then came the 2nd half and more importantly the fourth quarter.

The Bad – Second half Offense Efficiency

Three more first downs, one field goal, or one touchdown. If the Falcons get either one of those at any point in the second half, the Falcons fly home from London with a win. It’s inexcusable for an offense with this many weapons to be shutout in any half of football vs. any team on in the NFL. The blame falls on any player and every coach having anything to do with the offense.

Matt Ryan looked awful at times, the wide receivers had no idea what route they were running, the offensive line looked high school-ish, and the play calling was atrocious. The Falcons gained a total of 75 yards in the second half on four possessions. Give credit where it’s due, as the Lions obviously made some big half-time adjustments that shut down the Atlanta offense, but even that can’t explain the second half ineptitude. It is hard to pin-point the exact reason for the Falcons offensive rut, but right or wrong, the blame will fall on Matt Ryan and Dirk Koetter.

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The Ugly – The Final Drive

No matter what happened in the first 56 minutes of this game, the Falcons lost it in the final 4 minutes. Let me set the situation for you.

The two minute warning whistle just blew and the Falcons are up 21-19. The Lions have one timeout left and the Falcons have the ball on the Lions 35 yard line. This is one of the most academic situations in the NFL and any 12 yr old Madden player could ice this game. The Falcons somehow failed.

They ran the ball on first down and forced the Lions to use their final timeout. Perfect. The Lions have no more timeouts and with two basic run plays, the Falcons can run over 1:20 off the clock and leave the Lions with almost no time on the clock. But then came second down.

Falcons run the ball, as they should, but there is a flag on the play and the Falcons get dinged for holding. The Lions decline the penalty as to not give the Falcons a redo on the run and the clock stops. HOW DO YOU GET CALLED FOR HOLDING ON A PLAY WHERE THE YARDS ARE MEANINGLESS!?!? It’s inexcusable. James Stone was called for the hold and I have no idea what he was thinking. If you get beat off the line, let the guy go! Who cares if Steven Jackson loses 3-4 yards? The important part is that 40 seconds come off the clock! Somehow, it got worse on third down.

Matt Ryan takes the snap and instead of handing it off, he looks to his left where Julio Jones is set up for a screen pass in the flat. I’d prefer the Falcons to run the ball here but I’m okay with throwing a screen pass to one of the best receivers in the league. Julio Jones drops it and the clock stops and the Lions have 1:40 left to score a field goal. One-minute and forty seconds left!!!!

I’m not even going to breakdown the Lions march to kick the GW field goal because it was nothing special. There is a case to be made that someone should be immediately fired or released after only being able to run 20 seconds off a clock when your opponent only has one timeout left. You can use whatever cliché you want, but it just can’t happen. The coaches failed and the players failed on some of the simplest tasks. You can’t have a loss like yesterday without the blame falling on someone.

My opinion? Mike Smith has to go.