I’ll be back shortly with a full column to wrap up some of the ugliness associated with the Falcons’ 29-7 loss to Baltimore. Until then, here are my three “Short Takes.”
UPDATE: Here’s a link to the full column.
1. So where’s the explosive offense? The Falcons were expected to struggle defensively this season. But nobody could have anticipated the offense would border on anemic at this stage of the season, even with injuries to the offensive line. They had only 61 yards in offense at halftime and until the final minutes botched what few chances they had. It was five minutes into the third quarter before they converted a third-down attempt. Julio Jones wasn’t a factor. It appeared the Falcons were on the way to being shut out for the first time since 2004 (27-0 at Tampa Bay) but Matt Ryan hit Roddy White for a four-yard touchdown pass with 7:12 left after the Ravens had built a 20-0 lead. It was only their fourth touchdown in the last 13 quarters. Little reason to celebrate.
2. Pass protection is non-existent: Ryan is getting an increasing amount of criticism for not doing more to get the Falcons’ offense going. Some of the criticism is justified, especially given he’s the team’s highest profile player and has a $103.75 million contract. But this doesn’t all fall on him. Ryan was sacked five times (the last resulting in a safety), hit often, rushed to throw often and generally beat up by the Ravens’ defense. When a quarterback doesn’t have time to throw, it takes out a good chunk of the playbook, particularly the deep pass. The Falcons’ pass protection was awful. Center Peter Konz (knee) was lost early in the game, guard Justin Blalock appears to be struggling because of a bad back, rookie left tackle Jake Matthews has been overwhelmed and, at his best, right tackle Gabe Carimi plays like a decent backup. Right guard Jon Asamoah has been OK.
3. No reason to think it gets better: The Falcons are 2-5. If that’s not bad enough, there’s nothing about this team or the schedule that would lead you to believe things are going to get better. They travel to London to play Detroit next week and it’s easy to visualize Matthew Stafford carving up the Atlanta secondary. The rest of the schedule breaks down like this: home games against Cleveland, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Carolina. Road games at Tampa Bay, Carolina, Green Bay and New Orleans. Where are the obvious wins there? Maybe at Tampa Bay? Is there another? Maybe home against Cleveland. That would give the Falcons a 4-12 record — same as last year.
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