True (Southern) Grit(s)!
by Anthony S. Cooper
Roddy White set the tone with his tussle early in the game, and the team followed its long-time emotional leader. Matt Ryan played with guts and poise, the O-Line was generally stout and much better than weeks past, the D-Line finally started to get pressure and contained Cam, Julio was a beast and made an unbelievable “I will not be denied” catch, and the team showed its True Grit. Losing or winning close games comes down to so many different things, but in the end, our Birds showed what they lacked for two months today. They wanted that game… and they took it. Cam said it best in his post-game interview, “We got our butts kicked”. They did. And how glorious is it tonight to know that WE stopped them from a perfect record? Oh to be in Carolina tonight and feast on their delicious despair.
I have often been the first and the loudest to criticize the O-Line, and I still hold that they need a Center and Guard early in the next draft. But today, they played about as well as they have all season. And it showed. With just a little more time (maybe 1.5 seconds) and about 3 feet more space, Matt reminded us what a surgeon he can be. He is calmer in the pocket, more accurate with throws, and more zip on his passes. Further, all our WRs have more time in their routes and against the Panthers’ weaker secondary, that was what we needed. So, my hats off to the big uglies today.
The next unit I generally malign is our D-Line, and they played much better today as well. Even after losing Paul Solial, there was constant pressure on Cam. Grady Jarrett is going to find himself on the field a lot more in the future. I saw him collapsing the pocket and getting double and triple teamed while clogging up the middle and preventing Newton from scrambling up the middle. Clayborn, Beirman, Babs, and Beasley constantly flushed him from the pocket, hit him, and were in his face. Result… rushed throws, missed throws, and finally a strip sack to seal the game.
Matt Ryan has had a down year and a few weeks ago, many were saying his worst year. While possibly true, he was flat out the man today. Hit early in the game, Matt was clearly hurt for much of the first half. Never once taking a snap off, he got hit again on the other side (right side under the arm) for what looked like a potentially damaging blow. Frankly, either could have knocked him out of the game. Or, he could have gotten happy feet and started to rush throws. Instead, he scrambled through traffic two plays later and threw a bomb 52 yards in the air to a leaping Julio for an amazing touchdown. Look, I admit that Matt has had many bad moments this year and he definitely missed a snap today that cost us 3 points, but that man was all about winning today. Third down after third down, he found open receivers and delivered dimes. He also had an incredible scramble for a first down and took quite a wallop. He’ll never be Tom Brady of Aaron Rodgers, but he is our team’s best chance to win every Sunday. Like I said earlier… two Linemen away from being deadly.
And speaking of receivers, our crew was well above average today. Still too many dropped passes, but Julio’s touchdown will help you forget some of those. For me, it was great to see Roddy back in the mix… and early. He still plays with an edge. He didn’t let Norman or any other defender get in his head, and he led the corps to defend our dome.
Speaking of our dome, I remarked to my family who is visiting from Atlanta how awful it was that the dome isn’t a home field for our Birds. Did you notice that we were operating on a silent snap count much of the game? Despicable. I saw it last year in the Cleveland game and this year in the Minnesota game, but I can only imagine what it was like in person with all the Carolina fans. Many of whom I suspect said they were Falcon’s fans at one point. I have read for years that Atlanta is a bad sports town… well, to be honest, it is embarrassing to watch. That said, second to cramming it down Newton’s throat today, I hope all the kitties’ fans cried all the way home to Buckhead. To hell with with ‘em all! It is long past time that our fans and our city take some damn pride in our team and take back our house. Why do we expect our team to play with pride when we show no pride in them? Don’t let those Who Dat punks from Katrina-ville invade our house next week.
Finally, the record. Perfection has ended. Man oh man, it could not be any sweeter. Beating the Saints, beating the Cowboys… those are special victories. But this is one I will remember for a long time to come. I don’t mince words, I straight up despise Cam Newton. He is a smug, egotistical, cheating, lying piece of garbage. He can play. But he’s not what he thinks he is, and I am glad we stepped on his throat today. I hate Drew Brees, but at least the man has class. Newton is a punk, plain and simple. Thankfully, he won’t be able to say he went undefeated in 2015, and we can all thank our Birds for serving him some humble pie. It was mentioned earlier about his quick exit from the field and whether or not his “good game” to Matt was classy enough… HELL NO! Cause if they had won, he would have been dabbin’ and supermanin’ and smackin’ his gum with that smile you didn’t see today (cause we knocked it the heck off his face). But like most classless bullies, when you slap them around and make them your prison concubine, he ran to the locker room to cry like a baby.
We are still alive for the playoffs, but today was my Superbowl. Let’s beat the Saints next week and get ready to find a competent GM.
1. Who gets your game ball?
2. Has Shanahan changed or has the Offense learned the system better?
3. Is Beasley showing signs we expected or was this just one game?
4. What’s your take on Grady Jarrett?
5. Can the Birds beat the Saints to finish 9-7 and end on a 3 game winning streak?
6. Do you really care about making the playoffs, or did that dream die 4 weeks ago for you?