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Falcons on upswing under Smith, have cause for encouragement


birdz4i
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CHARLES ODUM
Thu, October 14, 2021, 1:53 PM·4 min read

 

ATLANTA (AP) — Five weeks into Arthur Smith's regime, the Atlanta Falcons are back where they ended last season.

They're last in the NFC South.

There's a difference, however. There are small signs of improvement that provide reason for encouragement.

The Falcons are 2-3, but they've won two of their last three games as they enter their bye week.

For a team coming off a 4-12 finish in 2020 for its third consecutive losing season, prompting a makeover that included hiring Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot, even small signs of progress are big news.

 

 

Atlanta has an opportunity to even its record when it plays at Miami on Oct. 24. It has looked more like a .500 team the last three weeks, thanks to progress on a young offensive line, in the running game and on defense.

If the Falcons had not blown an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter of a 34-30 loss to Washington on Oct. 3, they would have a three-game winning streak.

Smith said there has been growth since Atlanta's season-opening 32-6 loss to Philadelphia and its preseason opener against Tennessee.

“We’ve evolved,” Smith said Monday. "We’re a lot different than we were.

“I think there’s been a natural evolution and it's starting to pay off. We just hope to keep going so we don’t have any setbacks when we come back and get ready to play Miami.”

 

 

Matt Ryan has led Atlanta's recovery from its 0-2 start. He has passed for eight touchdowns with no interceptions in the last three games.

Smith said he expected “a natural evolution” with Ryan and his offense “because it’s like a new marriage, so to speak. So, really pleased with how Matt’s playing."

The Falcons were without top wideouts Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage in Sunday's 27-20 win over the New York Jets in London. Ridley missed the game for personal reasons and Gage was held out with an ankle injury.

Smith said Monday he had no update on Ridley's status, which he called “day to day.”

As a result, Ryan featured his tight ends, including rookie Kyle Pitts, who had nine catches for 119 yards. Pitts scored his first touchdown and had his first 100-yard game in his much-anticipated breakout game.

“I would say it’s a relief just to be able to start there, know that it can go higher from here,” Pitts said. “Reset next weekend, go to Miami and have a better game.”

 

 

The interior offensive line struggled early in the season with two new starters in center Matt Hennessy and rookie left guard Jalen Mayfield. Smith stuck with the new starters and the unit gave up no sacks to a Jets pass rush that had seven sacks the week before in a win over Tennessee.

Ryan said the line “did a great job" against a Jets defensive front he described as “very strong.”

“They fight,” Ryan said of the offensive line. “They really do. They fight hard. I appreciate that. They give it everything they’ve got.”

The line allowed the Falcons to gain 450 yards, convert nine of 14 third-down plays and score three touchdowns in four trips to the red zone.

While the line protected Ryan, running backs Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson combined to rush for 107 yards. Davis had 53 yards with a 3-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.

 

 

Atlanta had to remake its secondary after losing nickel back Isaiah Oliver to a season-ending knee injury. The Falcons also were without starting safety Erik Harris (calf) and cornerback Avery Williams (hamstring), but held the Jets to 230 total yards, including 166 passing.

Smith said rookie defensive backs Richie Grant and Darren Hall “did a heck of a job playing different roles.”

Ryan likes the timing of the bye, especially following the long trip to London.

“It’s coming at the right time, no doubt about it,” Ryan said.

“A little bit of my message to the team afterwards is that we’re building as a team, we’re getting better," he added. "We need to approach this bye week with the right mindset to get ourselves mentally fresh, our bodies fresh so that ... we can get ourselves back in the mix. That’s got to be the mindset for us.”

 

 

https://www.yahoo.com/news/falcons-upswing-under-smith-cause-175347908.html

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This is one of those 'hedge my bet' articles. If we actually contend later in the year, this guy will be able to say he was saying keep an eye on those Falcons before anyone else. 😄

I just keep looking for week to week improvement, and so far, I've seen that, so I'm happy.

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48 minutes ago, Outmyfalconmind said:

I'm not sure if concerned is the correct word for me to use here, but I disagree with the timing of the bye (not that my perspective matters). But there's momentum in the offense and MR is on fire, not sure if going 2 weeks without a game is a positive. 

Yea I kind of felt that way too, but I also felt that the lack of preseason playing time hurt the starters in a new offense. I think they just finished their "pre-season" so to speak. I am hoping they got a lot of the kinks worked out and can come out the gates firing on all cylinders against Miami. That's what I am telling myself now... lol 🙃

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5 hours ago, Herr Doktor said:

The team is pretty much where I'd expect them to be at this point.  If we had won the WFT game, in my opinion we'd have been ahead of the curve.  So far, we are on track.

The OL coming together the way they have completely changes the dynamics of this offense. We can run the dam ball and Ryan can get back to connecting with six or seven different receivers like the good old days of '16. Falcons are improving just when they needed to for the stiffer competition ahead. 

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6 hours ago, Mega Flare said:

The problem is there are no more awful teams from New York to play, and Pitts only plays well in Europe 😂

We got one more don't we Mega?  It's not from technically from New York but plays in a state with lots of people who used to live there.  Then maybe it gets tougher but maybe the coaches and players have most of the kinks ironed out by then too.

The first 2-3 games of this season were like their preseason.  Then the next 2-3 resemble the way the first games of the season typically go when things still need to settle into place a bit. 

 

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On 10/14/2021 at 2:35 PM, birdz4i said:

Smith stuck with the new starters and the unit gave up no sacks to a Jets pass rush that had seven sacks the week before in a win over Tennessee.

This quote is pretty amazing actually.  Will they have their ups & downs?  Probably, but if we can see continued refinement with this learning curve & growing pains, then I’ll be optimistic.  Still early though.  Nice job in Europe boys.

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I didn't expect 4-12 then a Lombardi.  I expected progress in that direction.  I see the progress.  I'm cool with it.  

We have some meaty games coming up but I think we'll have a light day against the Dolphins, especially if Tua is under center.  Then we'll be 3-3, that's so much better than we were at game 6 last year.  It's a good day to be a Falcons fan.  1-0 next week.

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48 minutes ago, Killing Floor said:

I didn't expect 4-12 then a Lombardi.  I expected progress in that direction.  I see the progress.  I'm cool with it.  

We have some meaty games coming up but I think we'll have a light day against the Dolphins, especially if Tua is under center.  Then we'll be 3-3, that's so much better than we were at game 6 last year.  It's a good day to be a Falcons fan.  1-0 next week.

TBH I expected a Lombardi but I do every year anyway.  I’ll take progress though.  Very exciting!!

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10 hours ago, Mega Flare said:

The problem is there are no more awful teams from New York to play, and Pitts only plays well in Europe 😂

Lol

I think matt and pitts established some more trust last weekend, i think that will pay dividends moving forward. I'm kind of thinking we might jack miami hard, things are trending in a good direction. I think grant and hawkins are going to be seeing more snaps.

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As awful as yet another season starting out hopeless by game 5 is, I also see a lot of green sprouts starting to come out of the ground.  The OL and running game are starting to flash, and during the flashes can be dominating in short spurts. 

I also really like some of these youngsters on the defense.  To be sure there is a lot of work to be done, but the arrow looks to be straight up at this point.

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1 hour ago, Pacific_Falcon said:

Lol

I think matt and pitts established some more trust last weekend, i think that will pay dividends moving forward. I'm kind of thinking we might jack miami hard, things are trending in a good direction. I think grant and hawkins are going to be seeing more snaps.

Trending up lately, but our sked has been weak so far.  Buckle those chinstraps tight.

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13 minutes ago, Mega Flare said:

Trending up lately, but our sked has been weak so far.  Buckle those chinstraps tight.

The Eagles are crap but we kind of hung tight with TB in some ways, the fact we played them better than the Philtards is at least a little encouraging. Also, we didn't pull that same garbo with Zach that we did with Geno Suck awhile back. Historically we have made Wal Mart grocery bagger QB's look like Joe Montana, and we for once managed not to do that. I'm not saying the improvements are pointing to winning the NFC south, I just look at this year like 'let's see what we got and go from there'. The WFT game was a drag, but way less embarrassed with that game than the Chernobyl meltdowns we had in the 2nd half last year multiple times. My belief: AS and TF can't unretard DQ and Gel Boy's derping in one year. My concern is by the time they fix stuff, MR's quick out throws will take 11 secs to get there. Watching Peyton Manning's last year was brutal. I could have farted a football out of my nether region harder than he could throw that year and he won a SB. I do believe AS can unscrew the loser Falcon culture, but it can't happen until he gets the resources to build what he wants to. The timing of MR2's longevity and getting out from under TD's derping will be a great litmus test for how good the new FO really is, so looking forward to that TBH.

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13 hours ago, Herr Doktor said:

The team is pretty much where I'd expect them to be at this point.  If we had won the WFT game, in my opinion we'd have been ahead of the curve.  So far, we are on track.

If, ifs and buts were candy and nuts, what a fine Christmas we would have.   Dandy Don Meridith.

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4 hours ago, Pacific_Falcon said:

Lol

I think matt and pitts established some more trust last weekend, i think that will pay dividends moving forward. I'm kind of thinking we might jack miami hard, things are trending in a good direction. I think grant and hawkins are going to be seeing more snaps.

We need some important players to get well, or solve problems at home.

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16 hours ago, Herr Doktor said:

The team is pretty much where I'd expect them to be at this point.  If we had won the WFT game, in my opinion we'd have been ahead of the curve.  So far, we are on track.

It's a game and I understand how folks emotionally invest as such year to year. I did the same before the game that shall not be mentioned. I get it.

 

 

 

All that being said....considering the circumstances and looking at it objectively while this early on......I like where we are headed as of right now with the talent level we have and knowing it only goes up from here.

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