For my column on the Falcons’ 31-21 loss to the New Orleans Saints, click here.
Below are my three “short takes” on the game:
1. Everybody, hold on: I’m not suggesting Thursday’s 31-21 loss to New Orleans is going to begin a tailspin that will have the Falcons struggling for the rest of the season. To the contrary, I still believe this is a playoff team and potentially an NFC South champion. But what happened in Game 6 — five fumbles (three lost), two turnovers in the red zone, costly penalties, blocked punt for a touchdown and poor third-down defense (the Saints were 8-for-16) reminds us of the Falcons’ flaws. This is not the first time they will have faced adversity this season but it will be the first time they’re coming off a loss, so their performance in next week’s game at Tennessee will be interesting to see.
2. Pass rush woes continue: I stated throughout the offseason that I believed the Falcons’ pass rush was a bigger concern — and ultimately would be more of a deciding factor in the team’s success — than the offensive line. I still believe that and this game illustrated why. The Falcons rarely put pressure on New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, who completed 30 of 39 passes for 312 yards and a touchdown (rating: 108.1). Brees was sacked only once. Conversely, the Falcons’ Matt Ryan was sacked five times. The Falcons’ defensive now has only seven in six games, and entered the week ranked 29th in the league in that category.
3. Freeman the real thing: Any thoughts that running back Devonta Freeman is not the real thing should be gone now. He scored two touchdowns on a 25-yard run and a 13-yard reception. He rushed 13 times for 100 yards (7.7 yards per carry) and caught eight passes (on 10 targets) for 56 yards. The second-year back has become a centerpiece of the team’s offense with Julio Jones, rushing for 100-plus yards in three of the last four games. Another positive sign was the running of Tevin Coleman (four for 40 yards), but he had a costly fumble in the red zone. Coleman offers a burst of speed and a nice change of pace from Freeman and it’s likely offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will work to get both several touches in upcoming games.
•Recent ramblings • Weekend Predictions: Spurrier, Cubs, Playboy…and Georgia can still win SEC East! • Spurrier changed face of SEC, and then he walked out the back door • Health would be Spurrier’s only good excuse for retiring in middle of season • Florida quarterback suspended for PEDs — and claims of, ‘I didn’t know’ ring hollow • Overreaction Monday: Chubb’s loss isn’t Georgia’s only problem • 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