Jump to content

Don't Let 6-1 Record Fool You, Falcons Are In Offensive Funk


Recommended Posts

Don't let 6-1 record fool you, Falcons are in offensive funk
Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer

NASHVILLE -- Roddy White knew not to boast much about Sunday's 10-7 win over the Tennessee Titans.

Sure, the Atlanta Falcons wide receiver and his teammates are 6-1 and have equaled their win total from last season. At the same time, White realizes his team is capable of playing much better, particularly from an offensive standpoint.

"We're in a funk right now on offense, and we've got to play our way out," White said. "We've been struggling, so we have to find a way. We've got to keep grinding.

"People might not care about this game in a couple of weeks, but we care because we know we can be better. ... I felt like we had maybe two drives that were good out of [10]. We had two the whole game. And the rest were penalties or little setbacks that got us down and distances that we couldn't recover from. We just have to find a way to get out of this funk before we get to a team like Carolina that is really good, that when you get behind the sticks, you're going to get blown out."

The Falcons offense managed just one touchdown Sunday, Julio Jones' 8-yard reception in the third quarter, but it was enough to beat the Titans. AP Photo/Weston Kenney

White's words should be echoed throughout the locker room. Yes, the Falcons found a way to finish, thanks in large part thanks to timely interceptions by undrafted rookie safety Robenson Therezie and middle linebacker Paul Worrilow. However, the offense has to find a way to start. In the past three games against the Redskins, Saints and Titans, the Falcons have failed to score in the first quarter. Throw in a variety of turnovers and mental mistakes and its all a recipe for disaster in the future, if it's not cleaned up now.

Sunday's offensive blunders included quarterback Matt Ryan throwing another ill-advised interception on a screen pass to Tevin Coleman, a Ryan interception in the end zone on a ball tipped away from tight end Jacob Tamme, an illegal block on White that wiped away a 47-yard run by Devonta Freeman, and three offensive holding penalties attributed to left guard Andy Levitre (two) and left tackle Jake Matthews.

"We are disappointed with the turnover [and penalties], especially the one resulting in a long play coming back from Devonta, so those are the ones we would like to have over," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said.

The Falcons, who entered the game converting close to 50 percent on third down, were 5-of-14 (36 percent) on third down Sunday. They were 0-for-2 on fourth down, where they were 7-of-8 coming into the game. And 10 points is their lowest scoring output since the 34-3 shellacking in last year's regular-season finale against Carolina.

Matt Bryant missed his third field goal of the season -- a 47-yarder -- adding to the offensive woes. But at least Julio Jones was back to his spectacular self with nine catches for 92 yards and an 8-yard touchdown reception. He should have had two scores, but the officials said he came up short on what appeared to be 4-yard touchdown reception at the pylon with 7 minutes, 38 seconds left in regulation.

"I thought it was [a touchdown]," Jones said. "The whole discussion that I heard from the referees was, 'Did the ball break the plane?' They weren't questioning was I [in bounds] or not. And I guess when they went to the replay, it wasn't conclusive. But I was still in with my foot. It goes like that."

Ryan, who surpassed 30,000 passing yards for his career but posted a passer rating of just 64.7 on Sunday, tried to explain the offense's issues. He completed 22 of 38 passes for 251 yards, a touchdown and those two interceptions.

"You have to convert more third downs and, when we have more opportunities in the red zone, we've got to score touchdowns," Ryan said. "We had a chance on fourth down, maybe in the first half, when we went for it around midfield and didn't get it done. We've got to convert there to get more points. And obviously when we've got the ball on the 1-yard line, we've got to get it in."

Ryan was referring to the two failed attempts after Jones' near-touchdown. The first was a fullback dive by Patrick DiMarco on third-and-goal for no gain. Then the tipped interception occurred on fourth-and-goal on a play designed to go to tight end Tony Moeaki. Quinn said he was disappointed those plays didn't work but did not regret the decisions made by offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, although running the ball with Freeman looked like a better option, at least on third down.

The Falcons still got back on a winning track following last week's loss to the Saints. Winning games without offensive flow and with Ryan struggling could be a sign of great things to come.

"We've got to fix what we've got going on," Jones said. "We came here to get the W, and we got the W. It's on to the next team, and that's the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This game is over and done with. Nobody's going to look back at it. Like I said, we just came here to get the W. It wasn't pretty, but it shows we're just going to fight to the end."

Link to post
Share on other sites
Devonta Freeman keeps showing up for Falcons
Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Devonta Freeman continues to be Mr. Reliable in the Atlanta Falcons' offense.

No matter how sluggish the Falcons looked in Sunday's 10-7 win over the Tennessee Titans, Freeman was consistent from the start. He recorded his third consecutive 100-yard game of the season and fourth through seven games with 116 yards on 25 carries. And Freeman would have had a lot more ground yards had his 47-yard run in the third quarter not been wiped out by wide receiver Roddy White's illegal block.

Freeman was asked what worked so well today in the running game.

"Everything," he said. "The run, the stretch, the inside zone, everything Kyle [shanahan] called, it was just up to us to execute. That's it."

Freeman is the first Falcon to have three straight 100-yard games since Michael Turner in 2009 against New Orleans, Washington, and Carolina. Freeman has done it against the Redskins, Saints, and now the Titans.

"I've been there before," Freeman said of being so productive. "I just do what I do every week. I've never did it on the NFL level. I did it on the college level and the high school level. But I've always believed in myself that I can do anything that I want."
Devonta Freeman remains the one constant for the Falcons' offense. Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Falcons should have handed Freeman the ball on a third-and-goal situation late in the fourth quarter. Instead, they went to fullback Patrick DiMarco, who got stuffed while trying to dive into the end zone. Then on fourth-and-goal, Matt Ryan's pass to a falling Jacob Tamme was tipped and intercepted, wiping out the scoring opportunity.

Freeman, who entered the game leading the league in touchdowns (10) and yards from scrimmage (801) was productive despite not getting the scoring opportunities. He allowed the Falcons to control the clock late and gave the offense some much-needed energy early on with his explosive bursts.

Ryan praised Freeman's play for the 6-1 Falcons.

"I think Devonta has played awesome, he really has, and he played awesome again today," Ryan said. "His confidence is growing every week, and I think our offensive line's confidence is growing every week. I think they've done a great job blocking for him. ... I'm really proud of him and happy with the way he's playing."

Freeman now has 931 combined yards to go with his 10 touchdowns.

What were they thinking? This has to go back to the goal-line plays mentioned above. They occurred after officials ruled Julio Jones came up short on what appeared to be a touchdown pass from Ryan. No matter the circumstances, the Falcons should have handed the ball off to Freeman rather than trying to overthink the situation and catch the Titans off guard. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has done some great things since taking over, but he probably wants those calls back.

One reason to get excited: The defense came up with two great interceptions in timely situations. One was by middle linebacker Paul Worrilow that kept the Titans from scoring a touchdown. The other was by rookie Robenson Therezie with 1:31 left to all but seal the win. There were some defensive mistakes made, but creating turnovers can help make up for it.

One reason to panic: Ryan continues to make uncharacteristic mistakes, including an interception on a screen pass to Tevin Coleman in the first half that the Titans turned into a touchdown. Ryan has to make better throws, and he knows it. Although he surpassed 30,000 career passing yards in the game, it was far from a good showing.

Fantasy watch: Jones got back into the scoring column with an 8-yard touchdown reception from Ryan in the third quarter. Jones had gone the previous three games without scoring.

Ouch: Both strong safety William Moore and wide receiver Leonard Hankerson exited the game in the first half with injuries and didn't return. Moore had a groin injury and was replaced by Kemal Ishmael, while Hankerson was sidelined with a hamstring. Moore (hand) and Hankerson (hamstring/ribs) were on the injury report leading into the game.

Link to post
Share on other sites

" Winning games without offensive flow and with Ryan struggling could be a sign of great things to come."

This is what I was saying yesterday.........our problems are of our own making. If we correct the foolish mistakes and get the offense back on tract, you add that to the NFLs top rated rushing defense and one of the better rushing offenses and we can get past Carolina.

Carolina, playing their best ball, could hardly get past the Eagles. We beat the Eagles despite numerous mistakes and misques .

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's nice knowing that if the offense is in a funk like it has been for the last three weeks, that we can win. Being 2-1 with the performance the offense has been giving is not too bad at all. After the last 2 years who would have thought that the defense could keep us in the game, and like this game win the game for us. Yes, the defense didn't score the touchdown, however they did win it for us.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Our offense has always struggled on the road, especially outdoors, and struggling 2 weeks in a row on the road is hardly something to get that worried about. Before this game, the Titans had the #1 pass defense in the league. And now they are still second. Credit them for playing well, because they did have tight coverage on Julio and I rarely saw any of our guys running downfield wide open.

We have scored 26, 24, 39, 48, 25, 21, and 10 in our 7 games. We failed to score under 20 only 1 time thus far. 7 games into last season we failed to score 20 in 3 of our games. 10 points at Cincy. 13 at home vs Chicago. And 7 points at Baltimore. Our offense is playing better than last season.

On the other side of the ball, our defense has been quietly moving up all of the rankings. I know we are still at 25th in pass defense when looking at ypg. Our pass D is 10th with opposing QB's having an 84.2 rating against us. We've given up the 7th least passing TD's. And we have the 6th most INT's. That's a pretty solid overall pass D performance. Coupled with a #2 ranked rushing defense by ypg.

We are now 13th in scoring defense, giving up 21.4 points per game. And we are 4th in scoring offense. That is a balance that can win in the Playoffs. Can we have a down game on offense? Yes. And we can finally say our defense will still give us a chance to win when our offense has a down game.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just noticed something and thought it was worth mentioning. We have had the leading passer in 5 of our 7 games so far. And we have had the leading rusher in 6 of our 7 games. That's pretty awesome.

In comparison, the Panthers have had the leading passer in 2 of their 6 games so far. And the leading rusher in 5 out of 6. Their offensive strength falls right in line with our defensive strength.

Link to post
Share on other sites

" Winning games without offensive flow and with Ryan struggling could be a sign of great things to come."

This is what I was saying yesterday.........our problems are of our own making. If we correct the foolish mistakes and get the offense back on tract, you add that to the NFLs top rated rushing defense and one of the better rushing offenses and we can get past Carolina.

Carolina, playing their best ball, could hardly get past the Eagles. We beat the Eagles despite numerous mistakes and misques .

And to add... I would rather play our best ball starting a month from now than peaking this early in the season.

With that said, we need to turn this offense around and start heading in the other direction soon.

Link to post
Share on other sites

What jumps out at me in the last few weeks is the opposition shifting their defense to affect the short slant passes. The o-line cannot be relied upon yet to protect Ryan in a 5 or 7 step drop, to let deeper passing plays develop, so the quick hitting passes are born out of that necessity. To me it seems like in the second half of the Saints game and in yesterday's game our passing game seems predictable.

I'm genuinely not worried about our O - every team goes through bad phases during a season.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think even the most ardent fans, homers and haters alike, will admit that yesterday Shanny tried to get too cute by a half on some of his play calling. I hope that when film is watched this week, he'll be a man about it and realize his mistakes....if his ego and stubborness (which he is purported to have alot of) prevails, then we could be in for a loooong season. Ryan just needs to settle down some and stop forcing throws to people. If we rely on the running game to open up the passing game, then I don't see us losing too many more games this season......BUT, the sloppy play HAS to be quelled....you can only be lucky for so long in the NFL.

Link to post
Share on other sites

" Winning games without offensive flow and with Ryan struggling could be a sign of great things to come."

This is what I was saying yesterday.........our problems are of our own making. If we correct the foolish mistakes and get the offense back on tract, you add that to the NFLs top rated rushing defense and one of the better rushing offenses and we can get past Carolina.

Carolina, playing their best ball, could hardly get past the Eagles. We beat the Eagles despite numerous mistakes and misques .

Yes our offensive problems are from our own making, however, they have been going on for three games now, and against inferior opponents. What's worrying me the most is the funk that Ryan appears to be in lately. I haven't seen him play such a bad stretch of games since coming into the league. Hopefully the offensive woes and Ryan will get turned around real soon.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes our offensive problems are from our own making, however, they have been going on for three games now, and against inferior opponents. What's worrying me the most is the funk that Ryan appears to be in lately. I haven't seen him play such a bad stretch of games since coming into the league. Hopefully the offensive woes and Ryan will get turned around real soon.

that's what worries me a little too. Ryan has always had 3 or 4 bonehead full re-tard games a season before but never in a row.

Link to post
Share on other sites

He is staring Julio down.. it's really kinda annoying that he does that... teams are starting to figure him out in this offense.

McCourty read Ryan perfectly on a slant to Julio.

He didn't read Ryan. He knew the down and distance and where Julio was lined up. And obviously studied film and knew our tendancies. It's not about reading the qb in man coverage. That was man to man. 1 on 1.
Link to post
Share on other sites

They know Julio is always the first read so they try to bait Ryan. Let's make it look like Julio is open for a second and bait Ryan to throw to him.

It's not even that. Matt just struggles against man coverage. All qb's do. Makes you hold the ball longer and the throws have to be perfect. And if they have a good pass rush to go along with tight man coverage it makes it even harder. Just wait tol we face a zone defense. We'll look unstoppable again.
Link to post
Share on other sites

" Winning games without offensive flow and with Ryan struggling could be a sign of great things to come."

This is what I was saying yesterday.........our problems are of our own making. If we correct the foolish mistakes and get the offense back on tract, you add that to the NFLs top rated rushing defense and one of the better rushing offenses and we can get past Carolina.

Carolina, playing their best ball, could hardly get past the Eagles. We beat the Eagles despite numerous mistakes and misques .

Gazoo sorry mate but alot won't be able to get past your thought process on this.

For me regardlessof the miscues the fact this team can run the rock and stop the run guarantees we'll be in every game regardless of how of the offense is right now.

I completely agree we are playing messy but still getting it done if we clean it up we have more than proven we can go with any team in the league.

I mean beating the NFC East home & away is know mean feat coming into the season 10-22 for the previous 2.Sure our offense and defense aren't ripping it up right now but WHEN they do I'm fairly confident as mentioned we can go with anyone in the league.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...