Atlanta Falcons Early Season Woes

Atlanta Falcons Early Season Woes

A Story by Jason

This is a sports story I wrote yesterday after the Atlanta vs Dallas game. My buddy is talking about opening up a NFL fan page, and I'm playing with the idea of being a sports writer for his site. If you have no interest in Football, this ain't for you.





I am sure that by now unless you are living under a rock in Hawaii you have heard the comparison. "Matt Ryan is alot like a young Peyton Manning". I mean, these are the words of the great Tony Dungy whom we all know was the head coach who lead the great Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts all the way to their first and only Super Bowl after their departure from Baltimore.

"Alot like a young Peyton Manning". Wow. First off I, like most football fans across the globe, have the up most respect for Peyton Manning and his body artwork to the game of football. He is regarded in many arguments across the board as the greatest in the game today. I mean he and Tom Brady. But so many, including Tony Dungy compare a young Peyton Manning to a present day Matt Ryan. As a Falcons fan, I believe this is the greatest compliment any fan could receive when reading or hearing anything about a young franchise that is trying to turn it around.

But then I watch the game I watched tonight against Dallas in what was supposed to be a "easy win", considering the difficulty of the Falcons schedule; And the final, Dallas 37 - Atlanta 21.

So what is the issue? Is it the "Young Peyton Manning?" Or is it the an overhype of a young team that still has yet to find itself?

Well if you ask me, I believe it is neither. Although I believe both points are a little premature, I believe the issue may just lie within the same area that it was for a "Young Peyton Manning".

Most people wouldn't be able to tell you now after watching Peyton Manning set records, embarrass good defenses, become a multi time NFL MVP and Pro Bowl Selection that he had a rough start to his career, finishing just 3-13 during his first season. Most people would only remember the many years that followed with the records, awards, and many playoff appearances.

Well, last season was Matt Ryan's rookie season and his Falcons finished 11-5 and earned a trip to the post-season. That in itself is a better achievement then Peyton in his first year...but here we are, one year later and I still see many of the same results that a Falcon's fan sees year in and year out. "On paper, Atlanta is the better team today and they should be able to win this game." And still, we get the same results. Disappointment.

So what is the issue?
Is it....
The Offensive line: Matt Ryan wasn't sacked for 4 straight games until today, yet they struggled with a poor Chicago Bears team last week barely beating them late 21-14. Today, the Cowboys exploited the (normally stout) offensive line of the Falcons sacking Ryan 4 times, and pressured him all day long.

The Defense: Where as the defense has allowed quite the number of yards this season, it wasn't until today that they actually allowed a team to put up over 30 points on them, and 7 of them came from special teams.

Wide Receivers: A couple weeks ago Roddy White broke a franchise record in yards for a single game, and since then he has scored at least one touchdown in each and every game.
The Special Teams: Atlanta has the best punter in the game today(with the best net return average over an active punter's career), and who punts the ball so high and far on his punts that returners rarely have a chance to return the ball at all. Today, they allowed Patrick Crayton to take one to the house, but I believe that will happen time to time, and although it's unfortunate for the Falcons, it is football and it's not been a real problem for them.

So what is it then?

The Rushing Attack: Well, this would be the first issue. The Falcons were the best running team in the NFL last year averaging over 160 yards per game running the ball. This year they only average a mere 71 yards per game. Less than half, so yeah I would say that this is a big part of it, with the injury to Jerious Norwood being a big blow to the Atlanta Falcons. Jerious Norwood averages nearly 6 yards per carry for his career and the Falcons have had him healthy for only one game this season. Leaving the load to Michael Turner and Jason Snelling, who have much of the same style of running, which on the field this year, isn't getting it done.

But is that the only issue with Atlanta this season? I mean, Matt Ryan has played well enough to lead this team to victory with his arm alone, but yet they still are struggling to play up to their ability(or hype). So what else could it be?

The Coaching: Too Conservative. There I said it. Cliché, I know, to blame the coaching when a team is underachieving isn't it? But the Atlanta Falcons have had the most conservative game calling over the past two seasons(since they hired Mike Smith). They run more on first down than anyone(which only works when you can actually run the ball)..., and they punt the ball with the game on the line more than anyone else in the past two seasons, relying on a young defense to close out the game. A young defense that is playing better, but is still no 1985 Chicago Bears.

Now, I go back to the comment "Matt Ryan is like a young Peyton Manning", as proclaimed by Tony Dungy. Well, if that is the case then why is it that with 8 minutes on the clock down by a score of 27-14 on 4th down and 1 from your own 40 do you punt the ball? If you have the next "Peyton Manning" at Quarterback, then why do you put the game back into the hand of your defense who has allowed 27 points so far this game? The answer is, too conservative, and the result was a 70 yard punt return TD for Patrick Crayton.

This game, reminded me alot of last year's game against the Saints where the Falcons were ahead by 3 points with 4th and 1 to go, on the Saints 40 yard line and they decided to punt the ball back to a very dangerous New Orleans team lead by Drew Brees. And Brees lead the Saints down the field to score the winning touchdown and go on to beat the Falcons that day.

Now, I am not saying the answer is to fire Mike Smith here, because regardless of what it sounds like, I believe he is a great coach. He got this team to the playoffs last season after one of their worst seasons in franchise history. But last season he had alot of help from the running game that the Falcons are not getting this year, for whatever reason...and again, that is not his fault but he needs to address that issue, and maybe allow the "Next Peyton Manning" to prove his worth. I'm sure he is going to make mistakes, but that is part of being an NFL quarterback. It's how you handle yourself and your team after those mistakes. I mean, you are paying this guy 70 million dollars for something right?

All I am trying to say is that with all the comparison of Matt Ryan to Peyton Manning, maybe its all coming clear. Peyton Manning was under coach Jim Mora early in his career, and made the playoffs under the man....but the Colts didn't dominate quite like they are known for dominating today, and they eventually let Jim Mora go. After they let Mora go they brought in Tony Dungy from Tampa Bay who had built quite the defensive force for the Bucs. But even though Dungy had the Bucs in the playoffs every year in Tampa, he never quite seemed to be able to make that leap to get the Bucs to the next level. Dungy was regarded as "Too Quiet", and "Too Defensive", and so the Bucs let him go in favor of Oakland's offensive powerhouse, Jon Gruden. Gruden was also under turmoil in Oakland as a "Coach that couldn't get it done", and he went on to take the job in Tampa. The outcome was, Jim Mora retired and went into broadcasting, and both Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy went on to win Super Bowls with their new teams. Leading me to ask the question, that even considering that Mike Smith is a GREAT head it too early to question whether or not he is the RIGHT coach for the Atlanta Falcons?

© 2009 Jason

Author's Note

I wish I could do this for a living. :) haha. Love you guys.

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I love this, love this. I say run with it.. Will we still be friends if I tell you I am a die-hard Dallas fan and was doing the jiggy, hammertime and electric slide when they beat Atlanta.. Whew, ok back to the piece, sorry, I warned you.. Journalism is really my forte and I think you have a wonderful, witty way of writing. Want me to be your press agent? LOL.. Do it!!

Posted 9 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


Very true.

Posted 9 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This is a great piece. I did follow it even though I am not a huge football fan. I will forgive you for not being a Cowboys fan. But you have to know I am real serious about my Mavs. Excellent piece. Great job. I hope you get to write for a sports sight someday.

Posted 9 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I love this, love this. I say run with it.. Will we still be friends if I tell you I am a die-hard Dallas fan and was doing the jiggy, hammertime and electric slide when they beat Atlanta.. Whew, ok back to the piece, sorry, I warned you.. Journalism is really my forte and I think you have a wonderful, witty way of writing. Want me to be your press agent? LOL.. Do it!!

Posted 9 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

[send message][befriend] Subscribe
I love, love this.... and yes you should do a NFL page.... ( I am a bit biased as I'm a football fan)

I think it is time for the Writers Cafe to branch out and allow those of us who desire to write beyond poetry and short stories, a place for that type of medium.

I like to write on political/current affairs... I find that this site just doesn't support that. Maybe if enough of us "other" writers continue to do so, there will be an expansion "team".


PS...I just read an article on the effects of Twitter, you may want to consider it, although you are limited to 140 words.

Posted 9 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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4 Reviews
Added on October 26, 2009
Last Updated on October 30, 2009



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