The Beat Goes On. A Butt Kicking in Charlotte and More Questions Arise.
Special Guest Writer: Roddy E. Nixon, Jr. AKA Seminole Warrior
There is nothing to write about here. The Tee Pee is going to focus on providing insight into the truth going forward. Why waste time on what the entire world, including Stevie Wonder and the late Ray Charles, would have seen as the supreme ass kicking of the year. Let’s get to the heart of the matter. Carolina beat the hell out of Atlanta today and actually showed an element of compassion. Friends, it could have been a LOT WORSE!!!
The most fitting review of this game reveals TWO events that we Falcon fans have grown too damned accustomed to as Atlanta Falcons fans were on full display today.
First, our football team put on yet another pathetic and disgusting performance. For 28 minutes and 21 seconds, we scored not a single damn point, could only account for 240 yards of offense, surrendered five sacks, turned the ball over six times (four recovered by the Kittens), and heard of dissent between coaches and players.
Secondly, in a scene that Falcon fans have grown too damn familiar with, we saw our main man, good ole Arthur Blank, once again pacing the sideline with his arm folded. Once more, we were witness to that same damn sour puss facial expression that we saw so much last year as the clock ticked down towards the funeral services on the Mike Smith era in Atlanta.
A QUICK NOTE OF CONGRATULATIONS
Agree with me if you choose but I am going to give credit to Jerry Richardson, Ron Rivera, and the Carolina franchise. They HAVE a REAL football team!! The “Kittens” are fundamentally solid in ALL facets of their game. They have been battle tested over the last three years; there was even a time when everyone was calling for the head of their head coach. But along the way, they found something. The “Kittens” stayed true to a philosophy and they executed it.
Carolina’s leadership did some soul searching over the last few years. The “Kittens” became masters of using their strengths and exploiting yours. They started winning football games with limited talent at key positions, a restructured offensive line, and other than Kevin Benjamin and the great Steve Smith, a rag tag group of wide receivers. They began to dominate on defense with patience, selective drafting, and STRONG veteran presence are paying HUGE dividends. Carolina worked hard and laid a solid foundation to maximize a window of opportunity that stands in front of them. Say what you will or may about some of their players (and I know some will) but they, the Kittens, as a team, are focused on one goal, one week at a time. And their dream, the ULTIMATE DREAM, is now within reach.
Today, you saw a perfect demonstration of offensive balance. The Panthers and OC Mike Shula ran a grand total of sixty-one plays. 44% of those were pass plays and were supplemented with a fine mix of rushing attempts by several backs. The Falcons, meanwhile, as has been the case of late, displayed an inability to achieve an offensive balance. Many, including several in the Cage, would call it unwillingness to change by the offensive coordinator.
Today, of the sixty-two plays the Atlanta offense would run, a whopping 75% of the offense went the way of the pass. The Falcons managed what would be seen as a pedestrian 3.8 yards per pass play BUT given what we faced defensively, I’m not at all surprised. With five sacks surrendered, countless pressures, and four of six turnovers lost to the Panthers, it is no wonder that anemic was today’s word of choice in describing Atlanta’s offense.
The Atlanta rushing game was able to sustain an average of 3.5 yards per carry. Falcon running backs only saw 16 carries though. Meanwhile, the Panthers, averaging a full yard more per carry, stayed true to their approach, finishing the game with 32 carries in their rushing attack.
Of note to me, however, is despite the short term imbalance, the Falcons are actually achieving over the course of the season, a noticeable improvement in its rushing attack. At this point last season, Atlanta was anchored in the bottom quarter of the league. This year, thus far, we are near the middle of the pack. And all of this is being achieved with a team that is still learning the ropes of a new scheme and OC while seeking to sustain an offensive line that is at best, Division II quality college football.
Let me repeat the truth of the moment. Even with today’s fiasco, Kyle Shanahan has this offense on course to be just as effective in all major offensive categories as last year’s unit was with one marked exception; SIGNIFICANT improvement in the rushing attack. And as I have stated, an effective West Coast Offense can’t function without depth and efficiency in the rushing attack.
Today, you saw how the perfect mix of free agency and drafting can lead to something special. The Carolina defense is a beast. Well constructed through the draft and selective free agency, the core of the defensive unit is home grown. Just take a brief look at the composition of the roster on that side of the ball. Take a look at the investments on that side of the ball. It’s easy to see why they are what they are; solid investing equals quality return.
Atlanta….We have seen the “changes”, “infusions”, “process corrections”, etc. And it all comes back to the same old same; a consistent, misguided, uneventful run in which we play soft and are often prone to mistakes that leave you wondering what the hell? Today, we watched our DBs be burned by a so-called WR that has absolutely nothing but speed as a talent. And Robert Alford leaves me personally longing for the likes of Brent Grimes or hell, Chris Houston.
The Falcons front seven continues to struggle with assignments as well as the ability to sustain pressure. And now there is word that coaches and players are getting physical on the sidelines.
Simply, I will stay with what I have stated from the beginning. I called Dan Quinn the second coming of Jim Mora Jr. when he was hired. And I still stand by that choice of comparison..
Where are the adjustments? What is the fundamental philosophy of this defense? How does DQ define pressure? If the talent is not in place to play this zone scheme, is he capable of employing some other defensive approach? And his DC, Richard Smith….where in the hell is this guy?
How much skill does DQ really have? Like Bobby Petrino several years ago, is he (DQ) in over his head as an NFL head coach?
Do the Atlanta Falcons have any? I mean this team squanders what is a pretty good home field advantage and looks lost too often on the road.
FINAL THOUGHTS AND PREDICTION:
The Falcons’ troubles are deepening with each week, friends. This season is on course to be no different than last year with one exception; a noted improvement in our rushing attack.
So the only questions now are who will be the next scapegoats? Kyle Shanahan? Bryan Cox? Matt LeFluer?
How long will it before social media and the rumor mill give us a true indication of the state of the locker room?
Is DQ true head coach potential OR is he yet another Chief, Football Administration (CFA)?
Will this team win another game this season?
To what degree will Arthur Blank panic this offseason? And does he FINALLY have the guts to clean out the front office?