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A Tdwii Observation: It’S Going To Be A Wait-And-See Type Of Season…


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Just one week after a thrilling come from behind masterful opening season performance, the Falcons weren’t able to do or accomplish much of anything. The O-Line that did a much better job of protecting its QB and opening run lanes last week? Nope, that regressed. The defense that made critical plays at critical junctures to help secure victory? Nope, to say they were in short supply yesterday would be an overstatement. They were in no supply.

Through 2 games, ESPN has the Falcons defense as generating 0 sacks and one QB hurry. Carlos Dunlap alone had 5 QB hurries yesterday…a statistic that comparatively speaks to ineptitude on both sides of the ball. Sunday was uglier that the 24-10 score indicated. The Bengals were without AJ Green, the player that truly opens up the Bengals offense. That didn’t stop them from pouring on 472 yards of offense. To be fair, the failings on defense aren’t really coming as a surprise to anyone. We knew that this unit was going to have its shortcomings, particularly getting after the QB. And to also be fair, these are offenses that should finish in the top half of the NFL…in New Orleans case top quarter to eighth perhaps.

NFL off-seasons are long. It’s easy to get attached to the abstract concept of evaluating a football team in 16 game increments. What you forget is the week-to-week volatility that’s involved, not only as it relates to the outcomes of the games but each games individual journey. Consider in WAS where in a span of three hours, the conversation has turned from ‘can RGIII become RGIII again?’ to ‘is Joe Thiesmann really right and Kirk Cousins is our savior?’

For the Falcons, ask any fan if they’d have taken 1-1 three weeks ago, and while they wouldn’t have been overjoyed with the prospect, they’d have probably been OK with it. Ask them though 1 week ago and it’s become a significantly more disappointing outcome. It doesn’t have as much to do with the actual record itself but moreso around how they got here. There wasn’t really one area where you could evaluate the Falcons and feel like they did an OK job – maybe punting.

For those folks not emotionally invested in the Falcons, most thought this was not a playoff team. Whether that winds up being the case or not, objective observers saw enough warts throughout the roster and it’s composition to feel like in the NFC they were one of the bottom 10 and not the top 6. That manifested itself in the type of performance we saw against Cincinnati. Some mediocre teams play to their mediocre abilities consistently. Other mediocre teams go through peaks where they look great and valleys where they look like…where they look like the Falcons did yesterday.

Yesterday. Last week in my nod to Matt Ryan’s career best performance, I used the word yesterday 13 times because it still represented one game. A game that provided a lot of hope for us all, but one that resulted in but a single victory. For as great as Ryan was that day…yesterday, not so much. Yesterday, the concept of yesterday (not September 14th specifically), needs to continue to be a critical component of the way we see these Falcons and how they perform from one week to the next. Just like no one should have expected the New Orleans version of Ryan 15 more times, nor should anyone expect yesterday’s version either throughout the remainder of the season. Ultimately, the Falcons and Ryan’s performance will need to be judged against a collage of 16 games where expectations will either be exceeded, met or missed. Just like there was no need for me to eat crow after last weeks performance, there is no need for someone who blindly supports Ryan to eat crow today. At the end of the day, we all want and need the Falcons and Ryan to exceed expectations and hope the middle ground they find is one that’s good enough to continue to build a championship winning foundation on. After 16 games, we’ll be able to step back and see where we stand. We’ll be able to truly evaluate the ‘big picture’, inclusive of the roles the current regime should or should not have moving forward.

Is it possible that the Falcons have simply not surrounded Ryan with enough talent to make a legitimate playoff run, much less championship run? Yes…it most certainly is. Is it possible that Ryan can be good enough for the Falcons to overcome other shortcomings on the roster to do so…absolutely. We saw this just last week. But the flip side is also on the table – Ryan may be good enough to put this team on his back in spurts - a game here and there, but for an entire season? The jury still remains out and the Falcons and Ryan will need to find that resolve and level of execution more consistently than 50% of the time which is where their 2014 success rate stands. With the Bucs up next to be followed by games @ MIN &@ NYG, the sentiment on these Falcons may turn optimistic again. In the pre-2013 days, perhaps we all would have felt more confident in the Falcons ability to handle this upcoming slate with aplomb. Now, well…we’re going to have to wait-and-see. With the Falcons 0-7 in their last 7 outdoor road games, they can’t take anything for granted but nor should they feel like this schedule is an obstacle.

And so it goes.

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The problem with your logic is that you assume there is no room for improvement.

The Falcons show several places where they are underperforming (just as Ryan might have overperformed in week 1).

I believe if the Falcons fully performed to their levels, they would easily be a playoff team.

I don't think I've stated that I don't see any room for improvement. But part of improvement has to be maintaining a consistent higher level of play over the course of the season.

When you say 'performed to their levels', while the offense has talent and players (along with a track record of performing consistently week after week)...does that exist on defense? As such, from my POV, I'm waiting exactly on that improvement specifically on that side of the ball. I don't know yet if any of us will see that...are we in a position to improve or do we lack talent on that side of the ball? It could be either.

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