A Rarity of Late: Victory for Atlanta.
Special Guest Writer: Roddy E. Nixon, Jr. AKA Seminole Warrior
Game time brought sixty-five (65) degrees with a nice easterly breeze blowing along the banks of the St. Johns River. As funny as it may seem, there was MORE IN COMMON between the two teams than there were differences. The Jags have been in the midst of reconstruction for a few years now, an effort lead by a former Seattle defensive mastermind in Gus Bradley.
The Falcons, who are STILL reluctant to admit they are rebuilding, are led by first year fellow Seattle “prodigy”, Dan Quinn. And with so many questions swirling around the team, Quinn was in need of a win at least to calm things for at least, a short term. Well, he got his wish today.
The Atlanta Falcons FINALLY got serious about offense today. There was a sincere effort on the part of the Falcons to establish some facet of a rushing attack. While the per carry average of 2.5 yards was nothing to get excited about, the VERY fact that the Falcons stayed with the approach was DELIGHTFUL to see as it (the rushing attack) is essential to the continuing evolution of this offense. It was also great to see a rushing TD scored in this contest; the first time that feat has been accomplished by the Atlanta club in the past seven or so weeks.
In one of his most complete efforts of the season, OC Kyle Shanahan displayed a mastery of balance in his offensive play calls today. I especially liked the way that the intermediate game was effectively to keep the chains moving and to keep the Jags defense honest. I would have liked to see more from our tight ends but they were busy re-enforcing a porous right side of the Falcons offensive line. With over 34 minutes of offensive possession, balanced with 33 rushing plays and 35 passing plays, KS gets a good grade for adaption to the flow of today’s contest. He gets my coaching staff member game ball.
However, the Tee Pee STILL thinks that this team wants rely too extensively on Julio Jones. And when they do, it translates into a “slowdown” of the overall offensive tempo. Let me once more be crystal clear. This offense remains a work in progress BUT will not reach its full potential until several issues are given a realistic examination post-season.
With the 2015 season now officially a lost cause as it relates to the playoffs, it was very nice to see more from rookie WR Justin Hardy today. I recall how effective this kid was at East Carolina and I see him becoming a force in this offense from the slot and in the intermediate game.
Once again, it’s sad that the offensive line blocking woes, especially on the right side of the line, are precluding Jacob Tamme from being used more but it is what it is.
Speaking of the offensive line, they only surrendered a single sack today. But my God, the right side of the line, from the center position over to right tackle, is just horrid to watch. I pray that Jon Asamoah returns to health next year because Chester is just not going to cut it. Additionally, today, I came to the conclusion that is it is time to move on from both Schrader and Person. Their collective effort is just poor in EVERY facet. But today, it was just enough.
Atlanta’s defense still is nothing to get excited about. Honestly, they are still as unprofessional as they were under Mike Nolan in my opinion. There is not a single defensive coach on the staff that I am personally impressed with.
Today, I watched first hand, two teams that feature the same basic tenets in terms of a defensive philosophy. Personally, I gave the edge to the mix of youth and experience on the Jacksonville team. The most impressive aspect of the Jags unit was the tenacity in which their front seven brought to the game.
I loved the mix in tempo that I saw from veterans like Posluszny, Odrick, and Clemons while watching the Jag’s promise for the future develop right in front of me in the form of Smith, Cyprien, House, and Branch. And remember, they get Dante Fowler back in the mix next year!! Kudos to Gus Bradley and David Caldwell for where they are heading on that side of the ball. I think that their patience is going to be rewarded sooner rather than later.
I wish I could say the same about the Atlanta defensive unit. Once again, I witnessed a bunch of free-lancing, undisciplined play on the part of the defense. The 4-2-5, when used is not effective and we do not have the talent to sustain it. And when in “cover three”, we have neither the defensive line presence nor the required discipline to be effective in that scheme as well.
Our defensive backs are still too often prone to poor coverage schemes. Pass interference calls are now a regular component of the ATL defensive backfield game-plan.
This is where I think that the front office failures are most visible. Both of these teams have spent big money on VETERAN defensive players. And while the Jags did not “shock” with their defensive effort today, I can clearly say that the Jags (David and Gus) are getting a GREATER return on their investment in terms of productivity, leadership, and cohesion than the Falcons (Dan and Thomas) are.
Sorry, but each week, I leave a game, live or on TV, with the same empty feeling.
Other than the aforementioned offensive effort, I saw nothing defensively that left me feeling energized about the direction we are heading. Can we consider releasing Richard Smith at the same time that we “release” Thomas Dimitroff? Has there EVER been a more invisible defensive coordinator? Geez!! And I was hard on Mike Nolan? Forgive me, coach.
And for as much chatter as there is about an offensive regression, can anyone tell me what has happened to our defensive backfield and its play? Oh, that’s right….it has been a shame for years now, right?
Just as has been the case over the course of the last two-plus months, I leave the stadium or my television set with the SAME DAMN questions week after week, game after game. I should just be prepared to put these questions into EVERY forum I author regarding this team from now until perhaps 2017 when we move into the new stadium.
Where are the adjustments? What is the fundamental philosophy of this defense? Once more, I was a first hand witness to yet another third quarter meltdown in which the Atlanta team looked lost and confused. And need I remind you, my friends, that we were only one play and by my estimate, only two yards away (overthrown pass) from losing this game?
Luck can only carry you so far, coach.
The Falcons won a game today, a feat that many of us openly questioned whether they would do or not again this year. Simply, I will just take it for what it is, a win.
In the end, we here at the Tee Pee are not surprised. We anticipated a transitional year of 8-8. Right now, even that seems a long-shot to attain. Our two remaining games, in Atlanta against hated division rivals Kittens and ‘Aints, don’t give one much reason to anticipate a win in either case.
The Panthers just got a MAJOR wake-up call from the G-men and a solid post-game @$$ chewing from Ron Rivera so you better believe that they will be focused next week on going into the post season with a strong statement.
Actually, the greater interest will lie in just how far good ole uncle Arthur is going to go as far as facilitating “changes” come January/February.
In the mean time, enjoy Capital Bowl Mania if you have a team in it!! And the Tee Pee wishes Happy Holidays to all as well as your families and significant others.