It’s overreaction Monday. Let’s see, where do we start?
Overreaction narrative: “I’m tired of this Georgia act. We need to fire Mark Richt NOW!”
Reality check: I don’t disagree with any of the criticisms and frustrations expressed about Georgia’s penchant of folding in big games, the most recent example coming in Saturday’s 38-10 loss at home to Alabama. I’ve written about it enough times. There’s no excuse for the Bulldogs to have that kind of performance, especially when it has happened so many times before. But the “fire now” part makes no sense. Here’s why: As much as Richt and this year’s team has lost the benefit of the doubt for probably the rest of the season, it’s still possible this team can go on to win the SEC East, and therefore play for the conference championship, and therefore – in miracle of miracles – actually win the game. Do I think that’s going to happen? No. Problems at quarterback derail any optimism. But Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity is likely to let the season play out before determining if a change is needed. If Georgia loses this week at Tennessee and/or the following game against Florida – and looks awful doing so – it’s possible the equation will change. But as of now, I expect the administration to sit back and see what happens, and that’s the right thing to do. As for Richt’s future beyond this season, I’ll address that later.
Overreaction narrative: “We’re 4-0. Ain’t no stopping us now!”
Reality check: The last two times the Falcons started the season at least 4-0, they went to the NFC championship game (losing to Philadelphia in 2004 and San Francisco in 2012). And there’s no reason to believe that won’t happen again. The Houston Texas are an awful team but the Falcons did what great teams do and put them away early (leading 28-0 at halftime, 42-0 in the third quarter and winning 48-21). There have been two key developments in the last two weeks: 1) After one year and two games of looking kind of mediocre, Devonta Freeman is playing like a legitimate starting running back and has been effective as both a runner and receiver; 2) The offensive line, while still suffering occasional hiccups, is making significant improvement and coming together nicely, despite a late-pre-season scramble to just find five starters. If Jake Long can get/stay healthy, he provides depth at tackle and conceivably could end up starting, but there’s no reason to make a change right now. Dan Quinn will tell you the defense still needs to improve the pass rush and find way to affect the opposing quarterback, but the schedule suggests the Falcons’ winning ways aren’t going to end.
GEORGIA TECH (2-3)
Overreaction narrative: “I hate Paul Johnson and his offense”
Reality check: The Jackets have managed to get swept by Duke and North Carolina in consecutive years. That’s football, not basketball. Who does that? The Jackets’ shortage of skill players has been a bigger problem this season than expected. But again, the biggest problem isn’t Johnson’s offense, it’s defense. Tech led North Carolina 21-0 until the final 1:29 of the first half Saturday at home. Then the Ted Roof-coordinated defense allowed 38 points in roughly two quarters. The drives: 75 yards, 44, 55 (field goal), 75, 37 (following a Justin Thomas fumble) and 59. Regardless of what you think of the option, the fact is that Tech has allowed 30, 34 and 38 points in its three losses and a team isn’t going to win a lot of games that way. But, yes, that is on Johnson because he is the head coach and he needs to recruit better defensive players and make it a greater point of emphasis in his program.