It started so well for the Atlanta Falcons. We all went absolutely nuts, and to this day I’m pretty sure you all heard me yelling from my sofa in England as we squeaked past the Saints in overtime. Matty Ice lived up to his moniker and more.
We bounded into Week 2, the Cincinnati Bengals and Dalton ahead of us, sure of a tough game, but one we knew could win. Our offense would be too good right? Even without the tremendous rookie Jake Matthews, our offensive line would do the job to let our quarterback and wide receivers soar.
As we know, sadly not. After a disappointing 24-10 loss (and it could’ve been so much worse if the Bengals kicker wasn’t playing for our defense) we have a short week, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football. Why is this game important for the Falcons season?
Offensive line redemption
Lamar Holmes It was ugly. I’m not going to name names as we’ve heard the analysis 10 times over by now, we’ve studied the PFF grading, and we know who is giving our quarterback his sleepless nights.
Our offense can be one of the scariest in the NFL with the weapons on hand, and a quarterback at the wheel as calm as Boston College product Matt Ryan. The issue is, it all hinges on the offensive line doing it’s job. This wasn’t something that occurred against Cincinnati.
There’s pride and belief on the line tonight for this unit. They clearly want to get out there to redeem themselves, with Gabe Carimi stating the following about the short week;
“If anything, I like it better, it’s easier to get that taste out of your mouth with a win.”
Between the players on the field and Mike Tice on the sidelines, they just have to get the job done.
Mike Nolan’s system – does it work?
So far, 3 games in… 0 sacks. The only team in the NFL to have 0 sacks. 4-2-5 isn’t sitting well with fans.
It’s clear the Atlanta Falcons do not have a pass rusher on the team. We’re not going to have a J.J. Watt like character causing havoc in the backfield. The way this team is going to get pressure is through it’s scheme, effective use of personal and the odd bit of good luck.
It’s not just sacks though. Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill had their way with the defense, running all over them to the tune of 164 yards and 2 touchdowns. Bernard found another 79 yards in short passes from Dalton. Freeing up the likes of Joplo Bartu, and Stansly Maponga may go some way to aiding this along with the continued solid play of free agent pickup Paul Soliai.
Mike Nolan is in control of this, and he has to find a way for the more dynamic players on the Falcons roster to make an impact. 3 weeks of nothing will have the faithful lose all hope in this happening.
Stop the rot
Even this early the Falcons need to stop any rot that may be setting in. There’s no doubt after the mauling at the hands of the Bengals, a few players will be looking back to last year. It was eerily similar at points.
A win tonight, and maybe even more importantly a good performance, is key to putting the Atlanta Falcons on a path to a good season and possibly a playoff berth. With the Buccaneers facing key injuries, it’s all possible.