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After a 1-7 start before the bye week, it looked like this was setting up to be our worse season since 2007 (when we went 4-12) or even 1996 when we went (3-13) with a historically bad defense. We came into the bye week wondering what would happen on the road against our division rivals of the Saints and Panthers, realizing how much worse it could be. We come into the Saints and Panthers games on the road, and we end up winning by shocking scores of 26-9 and 29-3. I didn't see this coming at all. 6 sacks on Drew Brees when we only had like 7 sacks all year coming into the game? All those INT's we forced against Kyle Allen when we only had a few all year? Never in my lifetime I've seen a really bad football team have a turn around like this way too late. So apparently from what I've read, during the bye week we changed our coaching staff. Dan Quinn is no longer handling the defensive side of the ball, Jeff Ulbrich has taken over as the new defensive coordinator and Raheem Morris switched from wide receivers coach to defensive backs coach, and wholy s**t it has made a drastic difference. WHERE THE HECK HAS THIS BEEN ALL SEASON LONG! It's frustrating man. I'm excited to play spoiler on the Saints #1 seed chances and continue to own Panthers, but at the same time, there's a certain way I feel. It's hard for me to not be upset at Dan Quinn for screwing our defense up the 1st half of the year when the potential was there all along. Another year of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones wasted. What if we go 7-1 the rest of the year or 6-2 and get to 7-9 or 8-8? Will this carry onto next season? I honestly don't know because it's not promised we'll have this similar production we've put up the past two games against the Saints and Panthers, ****, we may not have this production against the 49ers in San Fran or the Jags at home. What if it's because we are playing our division rivals? Anyways, I want to bring up some mind blowing stats and streaks the Falcons broke in this past 2 games against the Saints and Panthers, a lot of these are amazing, positive or sad at the same time. 1. We held the Panthers scoreless for the first 3 quarters, only the 2nd time the Panthers have been shut out the first 3 quarters in the Ron Rivera era. 2. Kenjon Barner's 78 yard punt return against the Panthers, was our 1st return of ANYTHING (punt or kickoff) we've had since Devin Hester in 2014. Not surprised. I remember in 2016 we would always have bad starting field position, but it didn't matter because of how high powered our offense was. 3. After the recent Falcons-Saints match up between Matt Ryan & Drew Brees, Matt Ryan & Drew Brees have now surpassed Dan Marino & Jim Kelly for the most match ups between two quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era. This was Matt Ryan & Drew Brees’ 22nd match up. It's amazing how this is overlooked, but they've played so many times since 2008! 4. After our 26-9 victory over the Saints, the Falcons held an opponent WITHOUT a TD for the first time since 2012 against the Giants when we won 34-0. The Falcons had the longest streak of at least 1 TD allowed per/game in NFL history at 106 games. Very sad statistic when you think about it, this tells you how bad the defenses have always been with Matt Ryan as our QB, but hey, at least we finally broke the streak. 5. First time since 2003 a team with a record of 1-7 or worse defeats a team with a record of 7-1 or better. I'd like to know if the match up in 2003 were division rivals or not, but bottom line is, I think it has more to do with how talented the Falcons were, but we've been coached up so badly all year. We have way too much talent to had been 1-7 or now 3-7. 6. We also ended the Saints' streak of 110 consecutive home games in which they reached double-digits in scoring. First time since 2005 a team holds the Saints under 10 points in the Super Dome. That was the year before the Drew Brees & Sean Payton era, which means that was the first time we ever held them without a TD in the Super Dome! Hey strange things can happen in a heated rivalry right? I'm just scratching my head. After all of these streaks, and how our defense has had this amazing turnaround. Just unbelievable. I still have every reason to be upset at Dan Quinn tho. The question will be, can we have a similar DEFENSIVE performance against a non-division rival like the 49ers. Can we do this against the Jaguars, an AFC team? Can we snap our 8 game losing streak to AFC teams at home? Haven't won an AFC home game since the Texans in 2015. Would love to do that against the Jaguars so it'll set up next season for us on a positive note.
Or are we really aren't as talented as we think we are? There's multiple former pro bowlers on this team. The Falcons have so many flaws and problems right now the list is too long to make. Some of these problems, such as bad special teams coverage, horrible starting field position, our offensive line/running back not getting a yard, our defense being mediocre as usual, have been problems with the Falcons for several years now, even in the Mike Smith years. The difference is when we had good teams, we got away with these problems but it always came back to hunt us somewhere in the postseason. Now we have a s**t ton more problems than ever before. Matt Ryan is old. Julio Jones is getting old. Alex Mack is old now. Matt Bryant as great as he is we have to draft a new quality kicker ASAP. Devonta Freeman was built perfectly for Shanahan's offense but with Koetter (including 2014) and Sarkisian, what has Freeman really done? Trufant, nothing more than an average corner, he's never been elite, always been average and good enough to be a solid starter, but in Trufant's 7 seasons with the Falcons, he's only been in the postseason with us ONCE, that was in 2017. He was injured in our Super Bowl run, and we missed the playoffs in 2013-2015, 2018, and now it's going to be 2019. The Falcons need a more physical offensive line, we're working on that, but the overhaul of the O-line may have come at a worse time. Maybe it'll benefit us the next few years, but we don't know for sure yet. Along with our offensive line, we need a bigger workhorse back who weighs more and can help us run out clock better to help the defense, not light weighted guys like Freeman or Ito. Freeman and Ito are good, but we need to draft a fresh big workhorse back, like another Turner, or a Blunt, a Chubb, a Henry, behind a big physical O-line. Freeman was mostly built for Shanahan's offense like I said previously. A bigger workhorse back is built more for the current offense we have now. Last but not least, I don't care what QB we draft, if we don't have the previous I mentioned along with an ELITE DEFENSE or a TOP 10 DEFENSE for once who has a lot of fire lit up on them with great leadership. We will never win the big one. Defense wins championships. Enough of the mediocre sorry defenses in Atlanta with no leadership at all and a lot of sorry players who can't tackle or make good plays consistently. We're not getting anywhere with this current defense. We need to draft better, bigger and more physical guys up front and in the secondary. Just having Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones, and Ricardo Allen is not enough.
You know what I'm worried about the most at this point? Since our loss to the Chargers in 2016, we've literally lost every AFC game in the preseason and regular season except for the Jets on the road in 2017. Seriously. Since the 2016 Chargers, that's 10 AFC losses out of our last 11 AFC games, and if you throw in our 11 straight preseason losses (only one of those was against a NFC team) so that's 10 AFC preseason losses added on. We've lost a total of 20 of our last 21 games to AFC opponents in the preseason and regular season combined. YIKES, and the 2019 version of the AFC South will be tougher than the 2011 and 2015 AFC South divisions we faced. You already know it. Road games against the Colts and Texans will be brutal, but the Titans and Jaguars shouldn't be hard right? Oh wait, we've lost all of our home games vs AFC opponents since 2013 except for the 2015 Texans. In order for the Falcons to win the Super Bowl they have to beat an AFC opponent right?