Special Guest Writer: Roddy E. Nixon, Jr. AKA Seminole Warrior
“Some of us will do our jobs well and some will not but we all be judged by only one thing – the result.” Vince Lombardi.
I’m going to be blunt honest to start. The Falcons, OUR Falcons, shocked me Monday night. And I was not the only one to feel this way. Following a season opening win against the Eagles, the Falcons showed flashes on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Work remains, there is still the issue of a consistent running game, and pass protection is certainly a work in progress. But for a team that is working to establish its identity, things are off to a nice start for Atlanta.
Next up, the 0-1 New York Giants await the Falcons. This will be an interesting contest as both of these teams are in the midst of working VERY hard to re-establishing themselves in the NFC as legit playoff contending teams. In recent years, for a multitude of reasons, both teams are significantly underachieved.
The Giants are in the midst of an offensive reconstruction in my eyes. They can be explosive at times but then they can also drive you crazy with some bonehead moves. The Giants feature a veteran QB in Eli Manning and the rising star that is WR Odell Beckham. RB Rashad Jennings is an effective, blue-collar back with good hands out of the backfield. The OL has invested heavily in the last two years on the left side with Flowers and Pugh via the draft while signing Geoff Schawartz to anchor on the right side. TE Larry Donnell, when healthy, is a viable weapon in the intermediate passing game.
The Falcons will seek to counter with the assassin, Matt Ryan and his pair of proven, reliable WRs, RW84 and JJ11. In the slot, Leonard Hankerson seeks to re-energize a career that has been held hostage to date by injuries. The continuing question for Atlanta, one that has lingered now for the past two years, is whether or not we will be able to sustain a rushing game AND pass protect. So far, the duo of Freeman and Coleman has started things off in a positive way.
Like the Giants, the Falcons are in the midst of an offensive line re-construction as well. First round pick Jake Matthews has been plagued by injuries and continues to struggle in his game. FA Jon Asamoah has underachieved in a major way and did not even see the field of play in the season opener. Another FA move, the signing of OT Jake Long is supposedly for depth but one has to wonder if there are concerns that run deeper than what we are being led to believe.
The rest of the line is working hard but still has a way to go in terms of a more complete, consistent effort. Philadelphia really worked them over in the second half so it will important to see how they stack up against a larger Giants defensive front. It is worth the repeat; this offensive line is a work in progress for Atlanta and will be an area of constant watch/analysis all season long.
Friends, the Falcons had a ton of energy on display against the Eagles. Most folks will focus on the pass rush (or unfairly, the lack thereof). That would be a mistake to do so. The Falcons were much better in every facet; they tackled with aggression, actually were physical at the point of attack, and literally dominated a very solid offensive line for periods. When could we say such last year or over the last two years? First round selection Vic Beasley had a strong showing as he was quite disruptive against one of the league’s best offensive tackles. Grady Jarrett flashed potential from the 3 tech DT position. And how about the buzz that was the debut of FS Ricardo Allen? It was an outstanding effort in all facets by the young man. I still have some concerns about the LB corps in the Cover Three zone but we allow things to move on as we evaluate further.
Will the taste of victory go to the heads of this young team?
Will they keep their foot on the gas offensively or will they become more conservative?
How will the Falcons defensive line attack the Giants and their larger, physical presence?
IS THERE A LEGIT WIN CHANCE HERE?
Absolutely!! The Giants are in a state of shock and confusion. Things could get very interesting in short order and Tom Coughlin has a serious task ahead to keep this team on point. He is a very skilled coach and leader so expect them to play better. But I think Atlanta will seek to prove that Monday was not a passing late summer breeze.
While I am still seeing this as a year of transition and still seeing at best a 9 win season, I really think that there is no reason why the Falcons should lose this game. The Atlanta offense should be able to make enough plays to stymie the Giants. Other than Beckham, do the Giants have any really offensive threats to be concerned with? The Birds will hold serve and surprise the masses with a 2-0 start to this season. They return to the Peach State Sunday evening with a win; 31-24.
So…..it’s time for your thoughts, friends.
What are you looking for from the Falcons in this contest against the Giants?
Will the Giants DL present a problem for the Atlanta offense especially the offensive line?
Will the Falcons finish the game with 120 yards or more rushing?
Will the Falcons finish this game with a sack? Who scores the first one, Clayborn or Beasley?