Short takes: Falcons still plagued by poor pass rush, turnovers

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) is sacked by New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha (44) during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) is sacked by New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha (44) during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is sacked by New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha during the second half Thursday night. Ryan was sacked five times and fumbled three times (losing one) in the Falcons’ 31-21 loss to the Saints. (AP photo)

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

Reader Comments 0

79 comments
Earhardnt_Fan
Earhardnt_Fan

Week arm Qb is the problem. Should of had of sighed Teebow when they had a cahnce

candlin14
candlin14

I think we are going to struggle until we fix our defensive scheme. Yes our defense is better then the last two years, but our QB pressure remains the same!!! Non-existent. Beasley is not producing like we hoped and big reason for that is, we ONLY rush four. We never bring the LB's, Corners, Safeties or anyone else on a blitz... The big problem with this defense is our Linebackers. Our LBs flat out suck... Durant is by far the best and we have felt the pain with out him. Worrilow is flat out garbage and Brooks Reed was a terrible pick up. 


What I can't understand is why so many fans hate Matt Ryan. This guy typically gets us to the playoffs and typically keeps us in games. No he is not Rodgers or Brady, but these kind of QBS dont come around every day, CMON Ryan haters get real. Yes I do want Ryan to play better but the man has been sacked 8 times in two games. Julio has had some timely drops, Hankerson has dropped passes all year, and Roddy is honestly wasting a receiver spot on the field. I would rather see Williams play more. Everyone wants to point a finger at Ryan when things go badly but Colemans fumble, the god awful butt fumble, and the blocked punt is why we lost, NOT MATT RYAN. 


Please dont forget you Ryan haters that the man has lost four times in the playoffs. All four teams made the super bowl and two of them won it. Ask Andy Dalton what its like to win a playoff game. Look at Andrew Luck struggling like crazy. Look at Wilson getting pounded each week. Look at Eli Manning dropping two awful games to the Cowboys and Falcons... So many complaints about Ryan and we are 5-1!!!

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

Good job Schultz you got all the chicken littles out...

WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR
WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR

Good news Falcons masochists, this team still has plenty of cup cakes left on the schedule.  Julio Jones is returning to the real Julio Jones we know, often hurt and under-achieving.  Dan Quinn is far better than Mike Smith but I would be better than Mike Smith.  My pre-season prediction of 5-11 may not happen.  The Falcons could possibly go 8-8 even with the cup cake schedule, easiest in the NFL this year by far.  Pump the brakes on this team and realize they should be 1-5 right now.

David McCallum
David McCallum

@WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR I agree with you about Julio. As much as I like him as a player, this guy cannot stay healthy. This is why I believe AJ Green is a more reliable player. Believe me, I'm not a Georgia Bulldog fan. I think we can all agree that Matt Ryan is a bit better than Andy Dalton; but let's be honest, if AJ Green was playing in the comforts of the Georgia Dome for eight games a season, rather than in cold Ohio, he would be absolutely out of this world in terms of production. The bottom line to me is Julio is an injury-prone player who cannot be trusted to ever stay healthy over the course of any season. The Falcons must begin to develop a young receiver who can be counted on to produce when Julio gets injured.  I'm not sure if it's Justin Hardy, who can't seem to get on the field, which may say something about his potential as a player.

Intruder
Intruder

You know how we all got excited when Smith or Richt rolled along until they came up against real teams with real coaches? The jury is still out on Quinn.

JODILYN
JODILYN

No pass rush. Beasley seems to small to be a factor

David McCallum
David McCallum

@JODILYN Size is the only real concern that I have about Beasley. Unless the Falcons put a dominant DT next to him that will demand double teams, Beasley will struggle at his current weight. But I'm far from giving up on this young player. The real criticism ought to go to Hageman, who seems to be getting away with his lack of production in the pass-rushing department. 

TrueFalconFan
TrueFalconFan

Where is dip squat  JSSn  - ARE YOU OUT THERE??????


DON'T YOU HAVE SOME SILLY STUPID OPINION ABOUT THIS LOSE?????



GO FALCONS 

CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

I think the Falcons will be fine.   The Saints are better than people think.  


And we were yet again the NFL schedule makers foil for the latest iteration of the narrative about the  rebirth of New Orleans after Katrina.  We began the evening's festivities with a schmaltzy soliloquy from Branford Marsalis, recounting yet again, Hurricane Katrina and its impact on the Crescent City.  Then the poor guy afflicted with ALS gives a Who Dat shout out.


I'll take it as a back-handed compliment that we're so important to the Saints.  Heck, they even got a statue to one of our players outside the Superdome.


Coulda done without the blocked punt.  


RickinWarnerRobins
RickinWarnerRobins

@CardiganBoy It's about time N.O. and the NFL quit playing the Katrina Card...like you, I'm sick of hearing about it...it's past history.

Zapp
Zapp

I blame the coaching staff for using a rookie running back in the red zone when they have the hottest back in the league on the sidelines.  Coming out of the half they did everything wrong, and I blame the offensive coordinator for having no clue what he's doing.  New Orleans was going nowhere offensively until they threw to the tight end over and over with no one able to stop him.  The Falcons kept trying to throw long the entire game, and paid for it.  The offensive coordinator has been fired before, and hopefully they Falcons will take a long look at his inept plans at the end of the season.  Ryan I like, but rattle him and he's lost, and that's what the Saints (and others) are doing.  The Falcons need to stick to the short game, and they have a chance to do well going forward.  They've lost in New Orleans with better teams than this, and I had a nagging feeling during the game, they would not turn it around.  The defense is adequate if the offense keeps them off the field.

tlmaddox
tlmaddox

Beasley has been a disappointment but there again, he's not the only one charged with trying to rush the QB...or is he the only one charged with trying to rush the QB?

The results appear the same.

David McCallum
David McCallum

@WAITUNTILNEXTYEAR @tlmaddox Let's calm down on the Beasley criticism. The real culprit here is Hageman. Why is he getting a free pass.  In order to affect the QB, pressure must consistently come from the middle of the defense. The QB must be forced to move off his spot, something the Falcons defense rarely does. This is the same reason why I am not quick to criticize the secondary, with the exception of its inability to cover really good TEs. No secondary can cover as long as the Falcons are asked to do. Also, why are the Falcons playing zone., when they supposedly have a shut-down corner.

D-Sheets
D-Sheets

The odds/statistics are extremely high in the NFL that when you lose the TO battle you lose the game.  Add to the Falcons 0-3 turnover margin, a punt blocked & Saints TD, and the odd/stats were probably somewhere in the 98.5-100% range of a L.  

SaulK
SaulK

No big deal--ATL was just flat and overconfident. They will beat the saints in atlanta. The only team to worry about is carolina---they are overrated.

Sayinthisagain
Sayinthisagain

@SurfConcept WHO is overrated?....ineptness in all three phases of the game...finally caught up with the fal.cants....did y'all see Ingram flaunt the 'dirty bird' ?....surprised he didn't get a penalty...

AcrusaderO
AcrusaderO

This is a terrible defense, hope the team loses a lot of games so they can draft a pass rusher. This team now is going nowhere in the playoffs if they make it. 8-8 is the ceiling

DawgNole
DawgNole

@AcrusaderO

Losing for draft picks means nothing with Dimitroff involved in the drafts.

itsslomotionbaby
itsslomotionbaby

well the secrets out, I just had to make sure I wasnt  imagining things, we do need an up grade in the middle of our defense worrilow & bierman are not going to cut it if we are going to the next level,  we need impact players at those positions not hustle players.i see nothing beasly is doing for our pass rush (I can get out there & run past the QB) we should have pickedup Gregory & hardy when wehad thechance.

Dman
Dman

Good news is that the Saints just lost a top 5 pick in next years draft with that win. Brees will get them a couple more wins the rest of the way and they will be bad for years. He'll be gone soon along with Peyton.

Dman
Dman

Every team has an off day, Falcons had two in a 5 day stretch and was able to win one of them. I'll take that. 5 fumbles, 3 lost with a blocked punt for a TD and a few drive killing penalties are not what this team has done for the first 5 games. We will bounce back next game...RISE UP ATL.....

Kenny Powers
Kenny Powers

Road teams on Thursday nights have it tougher than normal sundays. They usually only win around 30% of the time. And Brees is still Brees so they had a punchers chance. This is something coaching and player development can correct. But the everyone needs to realize that this isnstillna rebuilding project. In that the Falcons still have many parts they still need to get.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Jetiredo

Still "rebuilding"--after half a century with ZERO championships?!

No thanks.


EmoryEagles
EmoryEagles

And to think everyone laughed when I took Devonta in my fantasy draft. 

Redfin
Redfin

--Was hard to watch,   but in the end didn't expect this team to be that good anyway.  Same crap, another year.   No pass rush.   No pass protection.   Mistakes left and right.

ChuckinAlpharetta
ChuckinAlpharetta

@Redfin


True - this is more what we expected before the season started.


I agree with the suggestion that it's time to sit Julio until his hammy heals - we need full speed Julio, and the sooner the hammy heals the sooner we have our deep threat back - if for no other reason than to occupy a safety full time and open up one side of the field.

TOJacket
TOJacket

It's one game for God sake!...........like being on the blogs with my brother's damn kids!

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

Nope, it's FIFTY YEARS, for God's sake!

Even your brother's damn kids probably know that!

mattjohn
mattjohn

National TV stage, and to play like that. What a shame!  Quinn has done great job motivating the talent he has but it is sub-standard. By the way, is the might #1 draft choice Vic Beasley still on the roster?  Did he make the N.O. trip this week? He's a 'tweener' and too too small for what they are asking of him. We haven't had LBs in many years who could run with TEs and RBs or knew how to. Lot of marginal NFL talent in for tough go as season gets serious. Too bad. Quinn seems to be a good coach and motivator. Ohg well.

ChuckinAlpharetta
ChuckinAlpharetta

@mattjohn


It's remarkable, but you're right - without going to the DVR I couldn't be sure that Beasley played a single snap last night.


And there is no way I'm enduring that game again.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@mattjohn: "National TV stage, and to play like that. What a shame!"

______________________

Only the latest in a book literally crammed with chapters featuring embarrassing performances under the national spotlight.