The Atlanta Falcons have now lost 12 consecutive preseason games and 7 straight dress rehearsal contests. Special teams showed to be a real problem in the loss.
The Atlanta Falcons fell once again in the preseason. This time to the Washington Redskins 19-7. One of the biggest culprits in the Falcons loss, was the special teams units. This includes both the kicking and return teams.
Rookie Marcus Green has been the favorite to win the punt returner job, but he has had trouble fielding punts throughout the preseason. This culminated in a muffed punt by Green, that led to the Redskins scoring a third quarter touchdown.
Marcus Green was not the only culprit in the special teams debacle. Olamide Zaccheaus an undrafted rookie from the University of Virginia, fumbled a punt himself.
Like Green, Zaccheaus was unable to field a third quarter punt. His miscue led to a Redskins field goal, early in the fourth quarter.
The Atlanta Falcons could really use an explosive return man. However speed and agility mean nothing, if a player can’t field the punt. Look for the prince of the fair catch Justin Hardy, to once again win the punt returner job, if Green doesn’t play better next week.
More than just the return game, the Atlanta Falcons are also having issues in the kicking game. Giorgio Tavecchio is attempting to replace Matt Bryant, the team’s all the time leading scorer.
Tavecchio was given the nickname Italian Ice, after making all five field goals he attempted for the Atlanta Falcons last season, while replacing the injured Bryant. This included a 56 yard kick.
Tavecchio previously played for the Oakland Raiders, where he made 16 of 21 field goal attempts. This includes 3/4 from 50 yards and beyond.
Unfortunately for the Atlanta Falcons, Giorgio Tavecchio has struggled this preseason. He has made only 50 percent of his field goals (4/8).
That is a major concern for the Atlanta Falcons, who have had red zone issues in the past. Matt Bryant was nearly automatic, almost always ensuring that Atlanta came away with at least some points.
One of the biggest mistakes coach Dan Quinn and the Atlanta Falcons made, is not bringing in competition for Giorgio Tavecchio. That has now changed as the team has signed a kicker.
The Dirty Birds have announced that they signed former Georgia Bulldogs kicker Blair Walsh. He has prior NFL experience with the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks.
For his career Walsh has made 154 of 187 kicks, for an 82.4 percent clip. He has connected on 24 of 35 field goal attempts from 50 yards or more. It will be interesting to see if the six-year veteran can win the job at such a late stage.
Many fans do not put an emphasis on special teams, the way they do offense and defense. However special team are nearly one-third of the game.
The talent disparity between winning and losing in the NFL is a really thin line. Field position is paramount and can often be the difference in a win or a loss. The Atlanta Falcons must fix the special teams, in order to be the team that they are capable of being, a team that can win the Lombardi Trophy.