It’s Overreaction Monday. Georgia may not win a game the rest of the season, the Falcons may not lose one, and Georgia Tech … wait, are they still playing?
GEORGIA (4-2, 2-2; lost at Tennessee 38-31)
Overreaction narrative: “Nick Chubb’s injury submarines the season.”
Reality check: Well, yes. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The biggest problem in Athens is not that Georgia lost its best player at Tennessee to a serious knee injury — Chubb tore three ligaments on the first play of the game and faces surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation — but that the rest of the team is a mess. Sony Michel is talented and certainly more than adequate as a starting SEC running back. He reaffirmed that with an amazing 66-yard run against the Volunteers and rushing for 145 yards. But the Bulldogs have major problems in the areas of: 1) Quarterback (Greyson Lambert, Brice Ramsey and presumably Faton Bauta aren’t good enough to beat good teams; 2) Defense (coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s arrival last season was trumpeted by all but his unit’s tackling was dreadful in Knoxville, pass coverage is getting worse and the defensive front has been run over too often by the opposing team’s rushing game; 3) Play-calling: The knock on Brian Schottenheimer in the NFL was his lack of creativity in play-calling, and that appears to be the case here. I understand the limitations when a team has quarterback deficiencies but there haven’t been a lot of moments this season when you’ve watched Georgia’s offense and thought, “Hey, that was different.” Having Chubb and depth in the running game can make up for deficiencies. But those deficiencies were probably going to bury this Georgia team in the long run anyway — unless there’s a U-turn up ahead, but I’m not seeing that right now. With SEC games remaining against Missouri (home), Florida (Jacksonville), Kentucky (home) and Auburn (road), the Dogs look like no better than a 4-4 team in the conference, and that may be stretching it.
FALCONS (5-0; defeated Washington in overtime 25-19)
Overreaction narrative: “We’re so good, we can’t lose even when we’re bad.”
Reality check: Great teams do that. The Falcons aren’t a great team but they’re a good team having a great season because they have found ways to win games (four of their five victories coming on fourth-quarter comebacks). In today’s NFL, teams can win a lot of games by just playing hard for four quarters and not beating themselves. The Falcon did beat themselves against Washington Sunday. Quarterback Matt Ryan had his worse game of the season with two interceptions, a fumble and 24-of-42 passing. For most of 58 minutes, he stunk. But with the Falcons trailing 16-12, Ryan was great when it mattered in the final minutes of regulation, leading the offense on a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in 2:14. Overall, Ryan has five turnovers (four interceptions, one fumble) in five games and a quarterback efficiency rating of 90.7, which ranks only 18th in the NFL. He needs to get better and so does this team’s pass rush. But at 5-0, it’s all good going into Thursday’s game against struggling rival New Orleans (1-4).
GEORGIA TECH (2-4, 0-3, lost at Clemson 43-24)
Overreaction narrative: “I’ve never experienced a year like this in my coaching career, being as inept as we are.”
Reality check: Actually, that’s not a fan or media narrative — that’s a direct quote from Tech coach Paul Johnson after the loss at Clemson. He’s right. And that’s on him and his coaching staff. Two of the losses in this four-game streak have come to top 10 teams (Notre Dame, Clemson) but the Jackets also lost to Duke and North Carolina. With three of Tech’s remaining six games coming against Florida State, at Miami and Georgia, the Jackets will struggle to just become bowl eligible — and the way they’re playing on both sides of the ball makes it uncertain they’ll beat Pitt, Virginia and Virginia Tech. It’s staggering how far Tech has fallen. The Jackets returned a team that should have won at least its division in the ACC. Quarterback Justin Thomas had been the team’s best player, but he has regressed, partly because he’s trying to do too much. That Tech-Georgia game could be … interesting.
GEORGIA STATE (1-4, 1-1; lost to Appalachian State 37-3)
Overreaction narrative: “What’s the point of going to a game?”
Reality check: The answer is none, unless you just want to support a local team — and apparently almost nobody does. The school announced attendance as 10,101 for Saturday’s loss, and as always that figure was arrived at with some creative math. Trent Miles may not be a bad football coach but he’s having a difficult time building or selling a product and the resources at Georgia State may be limited. Would that change if the school gets a new stadium on the soon-to-be old Turner Field site? Maybe. But there’s nothing for anybody to hold onto right now.
•Recent ramblings • There goes Chubb, there goes a loss, there goes Georgia’s season • Short takes: After loss, Georgia is trailing even Kentucky in SEC East • It’s too late to save season but Sefolosha deserved to hear words, ‘Not guilty’ • Weekend Predictions: No fantasy, Chihuahuas will rebound (I think) • Braves may have a plan but it will be a while before masses buy in • Here’s your Depressed Braves Fan viewing guide to the postseason • Overeaction Monday: Now is not time to make decision on Richt • Falcons 4-0, Freeman 7 TDs — who didn’t see that coming? • Short takes: An easy Falcons win, and this is a team to take seriously • Richt and Georgia fall off stage again when it matters most • Short takes: Georgia’s reality check — there’s a problem at quarterback • Georgia needs win over Alabama to alter perceptions • Weekend Predictions: Nothing sinister here – Dogs over Bama • Georgia hired Jeremy Pruitt for games like this • Nationals are a more attractive mess than the Braves • Overreaction Monday: Georgia may be 4-0 but season starts now • Georgia now can prepare for opponent that matters most: Alabama • Short takes on Georgia’s win over Southern • Weekend Predictions: Lilly takes the lead and likes Falcons • Falcons’ fourth-quarter fizzles absent so far under Dan Quinn • Braves have been more adept at building off field than on it • Overreaction Monday: Are things as they seem with Falcons, Dogs, Jackets? • Georgia chases away Spurrier demons with dominating performance • Short takes: Lambert says, ‘I just had to go through a rough patch’ • Georgia can’t blow game, Tech can’t blow chance • Tech over Irish, Georgia over South Carolina (but not by 17) • Tech has something Georgia would like — comfort at quarterback position • An impressive opening by Dan Quinn’s new Falcons • Short takes: Gruden praises Falcons’ defense after win • Georgia looks like a shaky 2-0 with its passing game • Short takes: Another Georgia win but QB issues continue • Weekend Predictions: I can’t block this Falcons’ upset from my brain