I have always been an Atlanta Falcons fan. I have supported them my entire life and I intend to do so until the day I die. But no Falcons game has infuriated me like the game against the New England Patriots on Sunday night. While it was a hard fought game with star power and top notch coaching, the Falcons lost, causing me to go to bed upset and stay off Twitter for the night.
Displayed under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football, no game this season highlighted the flawed powerhouse in every single way like that game did. Thankfully for the Falcons and their fans, it was only the fourth game of the season. The problems with the Falcons, presented below, are visible, but easy to fix. It will take some work, but the talent is too great on this team for them not to be able to right the ship once again.
The Offensive Line
What can be said about the young and inexperienced offensive line? Defenses are breaking through the line like they are twigs and have sacked Matt Ryan a total of 7 times. From what I have noticed in the big men up front so far into the season, they seem to be improving after each game, but still lack the mental stamina and endurance to protect their quarterback in the second halves of games.
Stamina and endurance are skills developed through practice and repetitive action. The offensive line will learn how to protect Matt Ryan better as the season progresses through consistent practice and more focus from the players in what their jobs must be in every single play.
The Falcons set a record for least amount of penalties and penalty yards given up last season. But it's been a tale of two cities thus far into the season, with Atlanta's offensive line committing a lot of mistakes with multiple false start and holding calls. The young Atlanta team needs to learn to be patient at the line of scrimmage to avoid the false start calls. Learning to minimize simple penalties will help the Falcons on both sides of the ball.
Players and teams cannot avoid injuries. But let's be honest, without all of the injuries that the Falcons have suffered this season, Atlanta would most likely not be 1-3. With a season-ending Achilles injury to defensive end Kroy Beirmann, as well as injuries to running back Steven Jackson (thigh) and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (foot), Atlanta is searching for someone to step up in their places.
Thankfully for the Falcons, when Jackson and Weatherspoon return later in the season, both sides of the ball will become drastically better. With Jackson's ability to run the football with power as well as catch the ball from the backfield, he brings another element to the offense that Ryan can utilize. Weatherspoon, arguably the Falcons best defender, brings a dynamic game that can challenge offenses with speed and strength.
Matty Ice has melted so far this season. He has lacked the ability to freeze offenses with accurate throws that can gain large quantities of yards in close games or allow receivers to cut the clock down if need be. Ryan is too talented of a quarterback to not lead this team to the playoffs. If Ryan can maintain his composure in clutch situations, Atlanta will have nothing to worry about.
As a huge Falcons fan, of course, I'm worried for my team. But in saying that, I don't think it's time for the Falcons and their fans to hit the panic button just yet. By learning from their mistakes and capitalizing on opponents' mistakes, the Dirty Birds will be able to make the playoffs.
This team is entirely too talented on both sides of the ball to not make the postseason. Atlanta has a great chance of climbing over the .500 mark in the next three games against the New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Arizona Cardinals. We will see how the Falcons play in the coming weeks and hopefully they do not disappoint.