Monday, September 22, 2008
What Have We Learned After 3 Weeks?
The Falcons, much to the chagrin of almost everyone, are 2-1 after 3 weeks. Normally, this would lead to some measure of optimism, but the two wins have come against two 0-3 teams (Lions and Chiefs) who have looked absolutely awful so far. I think a better measure of how good a team we are comes from contrasting our wins to our one loss.
Lesson One: If we can consistently run the ball, we can put up some points. In the two games Turner went over 100 yards, we scored over 30 points. In the game he did not reach 100 yards, we only scored 9 points.
Lesson Two: Our success is inversely related to the number of pass attempts Matt Ryan has. In the two wins, under 20 attempts. In the one loss, 33 attempts. That doesn't mean that Ryan is awful, but he's not at the point in his career that he can beat a team without a good running game. He's a rookie... what can you expect?
Lesson Three: Our secondary isn't nearly as bad as I expected. Kitna only got numbers because they were down early and had to abandon the run. Griese didn't really do anything. And we dominated Thigpen. Now those three QBs aren't anywhere close to being considered elite, but they have still equipped themselves well. I don't think they'll get absolutely abused by the better QBs of the league.
Lesson Four: Our run D needs Grady "Fat" Jackson. We got killed by the Tampa running game with Jackson injured, and they were only throwing Dunn and Earnest Graham out there. With Jackson in the lineup for the two wins, we were able to contain the running game either completely (Lions) or until we had a large lead (Chiefs).
Lesson Five: It's good to be home.
So the question remains, based on these lessons, how will the Falcons do over the next few weeks? Answer: We're going to lose the next three weeks.
We're on the road for the first two games. Against the Panthers, they are going to put 8-9 guys in the box, stuff the run, and force Ryan to beat them; which he won't be able to. Against the Packers, we will be able to run the ball, but, while our secondary is decent, we don't have enough quality cornerbacks to keep up with the 3-4 wide receivers sets of the Packers. Finally we will be at home against the Bears, but they are only giving up 71.3 rushing yards per game. I mean Tampa abandoned the run and had Griese throw 67 times this past week against the Bears. We have no chance to win if Ryan has to throw 67 times.
So everyone get ready for three losses and three posts about how Ryan is learning from the losses.