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Tdwii's Observations: It's About More Than Just The Wins Now...


TheDirtyWordII
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Two years ago, during the Falcons 13-3 season, I was driving home from the Dome after another methodical victory. As is my ritual – a good friend of mine called to discuss the game we had just watched. I don’t remember the game, but the conclusion we had reached was this – “The Falcons didn’t have one single area of dominance but they simply were a team that was good at winning football games”. Take note that this conclusion was reached prior to 48-21 and 24-2. At the time, we felt great about the Falcons ability to simply win games. It didn't seem to matter how it was done, just that it was. I guess sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. During the 2010 season as the Falcons marched toward the #1 seed in the playoffs, the Falcons didn’t know that it’s not just about the wins. That ultimate success in the NFL doesn’t come mechanically…or via a process.

The Falcons are, and have been, a good team. When you hear facts such as ‘the Falcons are the second winningest team in the NFC over the last 4 years’ these are indisputable facts that validate that. But January success has eluded them because when the best of the best get together…the Falcons best simply hasn’t been good enough. It’s quite possible the best Falcons team under Mike Smith is still the 2008 version that dominated in the run game with a solid compliment in the passing game. The one thing we could hang our hat on was a bruising, powerful, prolific run game which during that season – despite what we see out of Michael Turner now…is what we had.

Matt Ryan has received criticism because what he showed in 2008 seemed to preclude a rise to dominance. In much the same way teams fear Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady…this was the expectation level that Ryan had set. To be fair, Ryan simply had no shot at reaching this level with Michael Jenkins as one of his starting WR’s. But after the acquisition of Julio Jones, the pieces seemed to be in place for the Falcons to get there…except they didn’t. Ryan certainly showed incremental progress. But the fear factor that accompanies Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers as they trot into the huddle was missing from Ryan’s persona.

As the Chiefs kept up with the Falcons for close to two quarters…I had one overriding thought. “KC can’t keep up”. Sure I would have liked to have seen the defense make Matt Cassel look like…well, Matt Cassel. But the Falcons were simply going to keep putting up points – there would be no lull which all too often would infiltrate the Falcons sideline allowing for games to become closer than they should have been. While all wins look like line drives in the boxscore, the frequency of Falcons wins that felt harder fought than they should have been was higher than anyone would have liked.

At the end of the game when I saw Ryan’s stat line – I was surprised to see Ryan having only thrown for 299 yards. It looked easy…more importantly, it felt easy. And it felt easy because it finally looked like the Falcons were making the best use of their personnel and Matt Ryan was being allowed to do so. And to be fair, he’s also perhaps reached a level where he’s now fully capable of doing so. And the Falcons…for so long looking for their foot were finally putting it on their opponents throat.

If what we saw on Sunday was a sign of things to come, then this years Falcons truly are version 2.0 and not simply some debatable upgrade. This is a team whose goals are simply gaining first down after first down. It’s a team that’s focused on making the best use of its offensive personnel and putting their franchise QB who is now fully capable of wringing every last bit of talent and production out of it, in a position to do so. Kansas City isn’t a bad team…but they’re not a good team yet either. There will be tougher match-ups and Falcons fans should not expect 16 throats over the course of the next 4-5 months. But there is a burgeoning confidence about this team…about this franchise that’s bubbling at the moment. It’s a confidence that remains in character for a franchise that has been built on the steady tone set down from the front office to its on field general – not a false bravado that you’ll see from teams more immature in their handling of success. For the Falcons they know it’s no longer about getting to January…it’s about doing something there. By the time they get there, if they do, the details of what they did yesterday will long be forgotten because it will be just another notch in a string of performances that felt much the same way.

And if by January that’s the case…then I like our chances.

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Great write-up. I was thinking this yesterday: with all the injuries to KC, it seemed like we were supposed to beat them yesterday. But last year, every time we played against a team we were supposed to beat, we never really beat them the way we should have (e.g. Tennessee, Minnesota, Seattle, etc.). Yesterday was markedly different.

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Great write-up. I was thinking this yesterday: with all the injuries to KC, it seemed like we were supposed to beat them yesterday. But last year, every time we played against a team we were supposed to beat, we never really beat them the way we should have (e.g. Tennessee, Minnesota, Seattle, etc.). Yesterday was markedly different.

That's a pretty selective memory of you.

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Great write-up. I was thinking this yesterday: with all the injuries to KC, it seemed like we were supposed to beat them yesterday. But last year, every time we played against a team we were supposed to beat, we never really beat them the way we should have (e.g. Tennessee, Minnesota, Seattle, etc.). Yesterday was markedly different.

I would say that toward the end of the season, we did beat teams we were supposed to beat with a good degree of ease. But doing it to the likes of JAX, IND & TB when they've all but written off their seasons come November and December is different than doing it to a team with legitimate division title aspirations in Week 1. Noone was predicting a 41-0 Falcons loss in any of the games listed above last year...

While we can debate about the merits of KC's chances, if the Falcons were methodical before, if they can perfect methodical dominance...sky's the limit.

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Good observations. I agree with everything except the "Chiefs are not a bad team". I think they are pretty bad.

I disagree. I think they have awesome weapons, McCluster, Bowe, Charles, Hillis. Moeaki. Their defense when it gets healthy will be really, really good. I think they have as good of a chance as anyone for challenging for that division. Obviously, after yesterday the Broncos are by far the favorite.

It's on a lot on Cassell's shoulders, and he's not great, but he's not as bad as some would say. He had his way with our D in the first half..

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I like what I saw, particularily on Offense, but I have a question, was the excellent performance exhiitied by the OL, a direct result of the depleted Chief's defense via either injury or suspension, or the result of a new OL coach, heatthy S. Baker, etc.

I haven't ever seen Baker or Reynolds look as good or as consistent. Clabo was the only one I saw get blown up. I think Pat Hill is a HUGE addition.

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Monday will be a real good test. Manning always knows where to go with the ball and it gets out quick. He reads like no other. He rarely takes a sack. Do we have what it takes to get right in his face? Can we man up on his recievers like glue? Will this be a shoot out because we can't get off the field on D? Or will Nolan draw up a plan to put the hammer down?

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I disagree. I think they have awesome weapons, McCluster, Bowe, Charles, Hillis. Moeaki. Their defense when it gets healthy will be really, really good. I think they have as good of a chance as anyone for challenging for that division. Obviously, after yesterday the Broncos are by far the favorite.

It's on a lot on Cassell's shoulders, and he's not great, but he's not as bad as some would say. He had his way with our D in the first half..

This. People sell the Chiefs pretty short on their offensive talent. You didn't even list Baldwin there, who is extremely talented in his own right.

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I disagree. I think they have awesome weapons, McCluster, Bowe, Charles, Hillis. Moeaki. Their defense when it gets healthy will be really, really good. I think they have as good of a chance as anyone for challenging for that division. Obviously, after yesterday the Broncos are by far the favorite.

It's on a lot on Cassell's shoulders, and he's not great, but he's not as bad as some would say. He had his way with our D in the first half..

The Chiefs offense last year was beyond pathetic. Yes, they lost Charles to a knee injury....which is another important point, yesterday was his first game back from an ACL tear.

The Chiefs weren't a good team last year, an the best player from thier defense signed with the Cowboys. I don't think they are going to have a good season at all.

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I like what I saw, particularily on Offense, but I have question, was the excellent performance exhiitied by the OL, a direct result of the depleted Chief's defense via eithe injury or suspension, or the result of a new OL coach, heatthy S. Baker, etc.

What people forget about is that every week, a team will be down this guy or that guy. Week 1 is generally the healthiest a team will be but key guys will start going down for every NFL franchise. Is KC a better team with Hali/Flowers? Of course, but teams will start becoming short handed all year...including us.

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What people forget about is that every week, a team will be down this guy or that guy. Week 1 is generally the healthiest a team will be but key guys will start going down for every NFL franchise. Is KC a better team with Hali/Flowers? Of course, but teams will start becoming short handed all year...including us.

Sure, but it's very unusual to get a crack at a team that depleted in week one when your team is completely healthy. Hopefully the Falcons can stay somewhat that way too.

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I haven't ever seen Baker or Reynolds look as good or as consistent. Clabo was the only one I saw get blown up. I think Pat Hill is a HUGE addition.

JMO, but he has been the most consistent performer on this OL as of late, yes he did get blown up on one play, chit happens. I just don't want to get my hopes raised only t be dashed when(Mon. night), when we play a defense at full strength

one play, but ever

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The Chiefs offense last year was beyond pathetic. Yes, they lost Charles to a knee injury....which is another important point, yesterday was his first game back from an ACL tear. The Chiefs weren't a good team last year, an the best player from thier defense signed with the Cowboys. I don't think they are going to have a good season at all.

They've acquired Peyton Hillis who IMO should bounceback from last years schitzophrenic episode. In addition, they also lost Matt Cassel midway through the season and were wholly unprepared to withstand that loss as evidenced by multiple Tyler Palko appearances. Throw in a the loss of Tony Moeaki and Eric Berry on defense...well, this was a team that was short-handed yet still was in the division fight (albeit a weak division till Week 17).

I think ultimately - KC is and will continue to be a middle of the road team. But just getting the guys back from injury that they have, not to mention the addition of a RT like Eric Winston, makes that team at the very least capable.

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What people forget about is that every week, a team will be down this guy or that guy. Week 1 is generally the healthiest a team will be but key guys will start going down for every NFL franchise. Is KC a better team with Hali/Flowers? Of course, but teams will start becoming short handed all year...including us.

Most teams don't start the year with their best CB/pass rusher on the sidelines. Not trying to sound negative and definietly not down playing the Falcons Offensive play Sun., just reserving judgement on the OL til Mon night.

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Cassel played in 9 games last season. He's not a great QB, but any team that is missing their starting QB will struggle. Team was extremely dysfunctional with Haley manning the ship and Tyler Palko of all players running the offense.

It is true that thier offense was a little better with Cassel than Palko, but not that much better. 15 points a game.

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Hopefully Mike Smith realizes that this is a passing team in the mode of the New England Patriots and not the ground and pound team of 2010. Turner needs to see less and less of the field from here on out. He only slows this offense down period.

The ironic thing is that New England is shifting back towards a balanced attack because they haven't won a Super Bowl in 8 years.

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Hopefully Mike Smith realizes that this is a passing team in the mode of the New England Patriots and not the ground and pound team of 2010. Turner needs to see less and less of the field from here on out. He only slows this offense down period.

Michael Turner has not been ineffective for the Falcons when you look at his overall performance. I mean, he did have 1340 rushing yards last season. To a certain extent, I think he's underrated, but I do think his skillset does not mesh well with an offense running through the QB.

Let's be clear here...the Falcons still need Turner. There will be games this year where without his contribution or presence, the Falcons won't win. Fact is, the Patriots have struggled moreso against elite teams with big time pass rushes because they've had no ground game teams worried about. Defenses simply started to tee off on Brady. What made Ridley's performance yesterday notable for the Pats was that for the most part, the Patriots were fairly pedestrian through the air. But because the Titans game planned around that attack, Ridley was able to find room.

So for the Falcons, as they assert their passing game prowess and as teams start to game plan with that as their central focal point in stopping the Falcons, it's Turner who'll need to make the defense pay for that. His time will come...

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