Atlanta Falcons: The Good, The Bad and The Great in Week 13


It is early December and the Atlanta Falcons are still in first place despite their 5-7 record. In week 13, the Falcons came up against the NFC leading Arizona Cardinals, and held home field to send Arizona to only their third loss of the season. If you are new to this column, I typically follow up the Falcons game with “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, meaning one thing the Falcons did well, and two things they did poorly. After that huge win I have decided to change things up a bit.

Instead of two-thirds of the column being negative, if the Falcons win we will make two-thirds of the column positive while only focusing our negativity on one part.  We will save the negative columns for losses. So without further adieu, let’s take a look at some of things this team did well, and where they went astray in their week 13 match-up against the Cardinals.

The Great – Matt Ryan and Julio Jones

When Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are in sync with one another, the Falcons are incredibly dangerous. Julio Jones eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark and had this best game of the year, catching 10 balls for 189 yards and making one trip into the end zone. Julio abused his fellow SEC counterpart, Patrick Peterson, over and over again and Arizona simply had no answer.

When Arizona attempted to double Julio, Matt Ryan was able to find an open receiver somewhere else.  Ryan found 7 different receivers on his way to a 361-yard performance. While Julio got the lion’s share of the catches, Harry Douglas was a more than capable side kick, catching 9 balls of his own for 116 yards.

It’s really no secret that this Falcons team goes as it’s offense goes and on Sunday it went. They will need to continue that trend if they want any chance to beat arguably the best team in the NFL next Monday night as they take on the Green Bay Packers.

The Good – Steven Jackson

Every week, I seem to rail on the aging Jackson, so I figured I owed him some page time on his first 100-yard performance in more than two seasons. I won’t go as far as saying he was as good as he was in St. Louis but he was better than he had been. He was finding holes and dragging defenders when the Falcons needed it most.

Jackson’s biggest run of the game came in the first series, as he rumbled and stumbled his way for 55 yards which set up Atlanta’s first touchdown. His final line wasn’t all that impressive (18 carries for 101 yards), but it was certainly better than we we’ve seen and that’s encouraging. Atlanta will need balance if they want to continue leading the NFC South and Steven Jackson is a big part of that balancing act.

The Bad – Red Zone Efficiency

It’s a good thing the Atlanta Falcons have Matt Bryant kicking field goals for them, because they kicked a bunch of them on Sunday. They only found the end zone one time in five trips into the red zone on Sunday and had to settle for five field goals.

The Falcons score a touchdown 61% of the time they get into the red zone, which is good for 8th in the NFL. So while this typically isn’t a problem for Atlanta, it still needs to be addressed. The Falcons have no room for error if they want to make the playoffs. Red zone trips need to turn into touchdowns, and while we have one of the best kickers in the league, it would be nice to save him for extra points.

The offense efficiency of the Atlanta Falcons will be center stage on Monday night, as they take on the ultra-efficient Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers has rarely looked better, and the Atlanta defense will need to be perfect on every drive if they want to keep this game close. Check back in for full coverage of the prime-time showdown later in the week.