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16 Sundays: Week 2 - Atlanta @ Tampa Bay

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Spunk Not Enough as Bucs Outlast Falcons

1-0 can be an intoxicating elixir. All sorts of possibilities start to creep into your mind. “If the ground game continues to produce like it did last week”…”If we can just have Ryan manage the game behind that”...”The defense looked better than expected (it was nice to see Anderson get his first career sack), perhaps it’s better than we thought”…”Holy cow, maybe we won’t be the 32nd best team in the NFL. Maybe we can be the 12th best?”. All of these scenarios start to make sense and have legitimate potential.

It’s not that the Falcons can’t make good on the aforementioned possibilities. But wins magnify the positives and losses, the negative. With a 0 in the loss column, you can ignore Matt Ryan’s 47% Completion Rate and 1:2 TD/INT ratio against the Lions. You can ignore that 102 yards Kevin Smith, the rookie RB for the Lions (whose last game was played under George O’Leary at Central Florida) gashed the Falcons for. You can ignore that the 1 in the win column came against the Lions. But things change now…there are negatives involved.

In all fairness, the Falcons were competitive with the Tampa Bay throughout but you never felt that they didn’t have this game in control. The Falcons could never get anything going on offense (226 total yards) and while the Falcons were able to cause 2 turnovers on Bucs drives that had entered the red zone, the Falcons inability to really create any rhythm on offense kyboshed any notion of turning those turnovers into points. The Falcons put together a scrappy effort. This game was not pretty from both sides (7 combined turnovers), but if the Falcons are going to win this year at all, it will probably require an element of ugliness. The fact that a team that had no issue whatsoever with the Falcons in 2007 winning by a combined score of 68-10 was able to skate by the Falcons by a margin of 6 represents progress.

But there is a lot to fix with the Falcons still and it will not be an overnight process. The Falcons prized FA acquisition, Michael Turner, had little room to run. Against an average front like Detroit’s, perhaps you can get away with average run blocking. Against a superior defense, average blocking won’t do. Since this is the primary way the Falcons plan to move the ball – this will need to be an area of concentrated improvement. In two games, the Falcons are letting teams run on them without much resistance. We all knew this could be a problem area, we just hoped teams like Detroit and Tampa Bay with average running games weren’t the teams proving this prophecy true.

It’s not as if the Falcons won’t be working to fix these ills. Mike Smith and his staff have been extremely diligent about getting back to football’s basics and running the ball and stopping the run are priorities 1 & 2 on their list. You won’t hear any of them blame the talent level they have to work with, they are lunch pail types and this team is starting to follow suit. But from this vantage point, they don’t yet have a lot of big eaters.

And so there will probably be quite a few more of these games, where the Falcons show the grit that keeps their chances alive a full 60 minutes but their abilities keep them from victory. 1-0 was nice, now back to our regularly scheduled re-building.

Player Comp Attempts Yards Comp% YPA TD INT SKD Yds Lost Scoring Summary

Matt Ryan 13 25 145 52.00% 5.80 1 1 2 8 1st Quarter

Chris Redman Matt Bryant 28 yard FG

D.J. Shockley Jason Elam 39 yard FG

TOTAL 13 25 145 52.00% 5.80 1 1 2 8 2nd Quarter

Earnest Graham 1 yard TD Run

Player Rushes Yards TD YPR Receptions Yards TD YPR Fumbles Matt Bryant 44 yard FG

Michael Turner 23 67 1 10 10.00 1 3rd Quarter

Jerious Norwood 5 21 1 5 5.00 Ben Hartsock 5 Yard TD Reception

Thomas Brown Matt Bryant 34 Yard FG

Ovie Mughelli 2 1 Jason Elam 48 Yard FG

Matt Ryan 1 4th Quarter

Chris Redman Matt Bryant 31 Yard FG

Roddy White 3 40 13.33

Laurent Robinson 2 31 15.50

Harry Douglass 2 28 14.00 1

Ben Hartsock 2 16 1 8.00

Martrez Milner 1 7 7.00

Michael Jenkins 1 8 8.00

Brian Finneran

TOTAL 30 89 0 2.97 13 145 1 11.15 3

Team 1 2 3 4 FINAL

Falcons 3 0 10 0 13

Opponent 3 10 3 3 19

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