Short takes: Sloppy Falcons gift-wrap game for mediocre Bucs

Matt Ryan can’t handle a bad snap from center Mike Person, who was charged with a fumble in one of the Falcons’ three first-half turnovers. (Curtis Compton/compton@ajc.com)

Matt Ryan can't handle a bad snap from center Mike Person, who was charged with a fumble in one of the Falcons' three first-half turnovers. (Curtis Compton/compton@ajc.com)

Matt Ryan can’t handle a bad snap from center Mike Person, who was charged with a fumble in one of the Falcons’ three first-half turnovers. (Curtis Compton/compton@ajc.com)

Well, that was ugly. In another throwback performance to last season, the Falcons lost to Tampa Bay 23-20 in overtime. They committed four turnovers, which led to all 20 Buccaneers’ points before the overtime. I’ll have a full column on the game posted soon on MyAJC.com. Until then, here are my three “short takes” on the game.

UPDATE: Here’s a link to the game column.

Here are the short takes:

1 Good Teams Don’t Play Like This: The 23-20 loss to Tampa Bay makes three straight mediocre performances by the Falcons, following a 31-21 loss at New Orleans and a 10-7 narrow escape at Tennessee. The Falcons are 6-2 but 0-2 against NFC South opponents, which could be a factor later in the season. The Falcons lost despite having 496 yards in total offense to the Bucs 290. How does that happen? With turnovers. The Falcons had three in the first half and one in the second. Quarterback Matt Ryan had two (interception and an aborted handoff to Devonta Freeman), Julio Jones lost the ball after a long gain and center Mike Person rolled a dreadful snap attempt, which seems to be a Falcons’ center specialty this season (James Stone did it in the New Orleans game). The Falcons’ offense was in the red zone six times but two of those ended in turnovers, two in field goals and two in touchdowns. That’s just giving too many points away.

2. Lovie Smith, What Are You Doing? Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith got away with one. His team was in the process of blowing a gift-wrapped 20-3 lead but still lead 20-12 with two minutes left when he surprisingly decided to have his offense go for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 40. The Falcons had zero timeouts left. The logical decision would’ve been to punt the ball and make the Falcons go 80 yards (or more) to tie the game with no timeouts. But the Bucs went for it and quarterback Jameis Winston was buried. “I would make that call 10 out of 10 times,” Smith said later. Yeah. And he’d be wrong each time. The Falcons took over and Ryan drove the team 40 yards in five plays (one minute, 35 seconds) to the game-tying touchdown. Winston and the Bucs’ defense rescued their head coach with an overtime win. But the game never should have gotten that far.

3. The Greatest Play That Didn’t Count: We knew Julio Jones was a great receiver. But did you know he also could teach a class in defensive pursuit and tackling? On the Falcons’ opening drive, Ryan threw an interception four yards deep in the end zone that Tampa Bay linebacker Kwon Alexander returned 93 yards and appeared on his way for a touchdown. But Jones — the only Falcon in near pursuit — somehow ran him down, grabbed him and threw him down at the Falcons’ 11-yard line. As it turned out, the entire play was nullified by a Bucs’ offsides penalty but the crowd was still buzzing after watching Jones’ play on the video board.

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Reader Comments 0

159 comments
Mora-less-Petrino
Mora-less-Petrino

Halfway through the season, the Falcons are pretty well represented here, http://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/2015/leaders.htm

Too many mistakes of late though! The Birds best tighten up or we could be in for a Mora season; start 6-2 and 5-3, finish 2-6 to go 8-8 and 7-9! Those two seasons, 2005 and 2006, were the original deflate-gate. Our hopes were deflated in the second half of both seasons. I'm sure Quinn will not lead us down that road. 

Mora-less-Petrino
Mora-less-Petrino

I see where the 49ers will start Blaine Gabbert at QB this Sunday. San Francisco fell apart in a hurry! Let's hope ATL can take advantage of their plight, especially with the rest of the division playing home games this coming Sunday.

The Colts gave the Panthers a battle last night, but came up short. An embarrassed Packers team heads to Carolina this Sunday. Perhaps Green Bay can help the Birds out and take down our division foe.

candlin14
candlin14

Well there is one GM I will applaud today and that is John Elway. Hair Gel, if you ever care about your job or the fans in Atlanta, take notes on Mr. Elway. See, he believes in trying to make his team better no matter what cost. You on the hand have no clue what you are doing. You claim mid season trades are bad and the players cant adjust to the new offensive scheme. Lets see how Vernon Davis does in a Bronco uniform. Lets see how fast he picks up the plays... I mean this man is a veteran and will jump into the offense quickly and make a contribution. 


ARTHUR BLANK, find a new GM. You are the owner and your old wrinkley self is on the sidelines and in the box every game. Do you not see that this team needs a Center, or a Secondary Contributor, or a Linebacker, or a Solid #2 wide out like ALSHON JEFFREY!!! My god, get someone who has some balls and can make this team better before 4PM tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

TideDawg
TideDawg

A new season starts with the next game. The start to this season has been far better than what was predicted. New coach, new O Line, New Defense. I'd say we're pretty lucky at this point of the season.


Anybody notice that Green Bay got the crap kicked out of them Sunday by a revamped team with a 40 year old QB? GB is one of the most experienced teams in the NFL and they looked helpless. How bad was Rodgers?


Send the Falcons jury back for more deliberation and wait for the facts. They look guilty as charged after Sunday but we're only half way through the trial.

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

What's the deal with our C miscues over the last few years? I'd think snapping the ball should be more of a given since the C is in control of the ball and can practice the various snap rotations as a kicker practices chip shot field goals.

GTBee
GTBee

Falcons are average. Have been all year. Will do okay but it's like night and day when comparing them to teams like the Bengals and Patriots.

candlin14
candlin14

Once again, our no ball sack chump of a GM doesn't want to make a deal before the trade deadline. We could have got someone for Tony G back in 2013 when our season was over by week 8 and we didn't do anything. Now we have a chance to get a Vernon Davis, Alshon Jeffrey, or a much needed Center who can snap the ball to a QB without rolling it to him and we dont make a move because "someone doesnt like trades during the season"..... Arthur Blank, find a new GM who has a pair and ask Quinn where his pair is at as well... Teams are shopping right now and we are sitting with our stick in our hands.... COME ON ATLANTA FALCONS, DO SOMETHING TO IMPROVE THIS FOOTBALL TEAM RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

TideDawg
TideDawg

There were some very smart football critics before the first kickoff that predicted the Falcons would win 6-8 games. Right now those critics are looking a lot smarter. I didn't believe that but I am about to agree with that prediction. Looks like a sure bet they will lose again to N.O. and lose 2 to Carolina. Winning the division is now pretty much out of the question and a wild card looks iffy too.


The Falcons can't seem to get it right when drafting pass rushers. Any QB in the league that gets 5-6 seconds to pick a receiver will drill you because DBs can't hold coverage that long.....no matter who the DB is.


Getting beat by Tampa Bay is bad enough but getting  beat with rookie Winston at QB makes it even tougher to take. My guess is very soon Winston will be telling Lovie what to do and who to play. The Falcons made him look like a pro bowl player.

SomewherenSGa
SomewherenSGa

at least Winston can buy his crab legs now, but my bet is he will still steal them!

Dman
Dman

One thing I noticed was that Lovie decided to go for it with 2minutes left at 4th and 1. The reason I think he did that was because there were 2 minutes on the clock and Matty Ice never needs that much time to go 80yards and score. That was total respect for Matt Ryan. The Falcons never punted in this game. Without the turnovers, we would have won 35 - 6.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

Makes it look even worse for the Falcons. All these turnovers have gone on for three weeks now. No cure in sight.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@Dman  That's speculation fellow fan! Even without the turnovers they still have to put it in the end zone, but you can rationalize, safely, that they would have had at least 9 more points and they only lost by 3.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

Ryan fan here, however first and foremost I am a Falcons fan and with that being said lets talk about it!

1. Matt had a great stat game yesterday! Close to 400 yards, not one punt...and we lost.

2. Quarterback Matt Ryan had two (interceptions and an aborted handoff to Devonta Freeman). Two picks one so glaring that if he does not throw it in triple coverage, we might get three out of that possession? And for those that want to say it was Freemans fault on the botched handoff please go look at the tape and you see Ryan trying to pull the ball back out WHILE birddogging Julio on the quick slant. It was Ryans fault!

3. No excuse for Julio! You CANT get stripped from behind! PERIOD! However every time Roddy gets targeted he is WIDE OPEN and he makes big catches..:when Ryan looks for him which is so few and far between!

4. Is it new for our centers to have no clue how to hike the ball now days?

5. Dont blame the Oline for ANYTHING! MR had time to throw for 300 plus yards right? And Free still ran for 88! Not a bad day!

6. Our offense has not had a threat of a down field bomb since MR 2 begin playing QB! Something is wrong here for every OC to not try and stretch the field with JJ11. EVERY team in the NFL takes at least ONE shot a game downfield...except the Falcons! That is coaching folks and not in a negative way! They see something our QB cant do!

7. Get off the defense and Beasley! Last three weeks how many turnovers have they had to overcome to try and get the ball back? Beasley is held on almost every play as well as other Dline but officials dont call it...let the Falcons OLine hold and we get called every time!

8. MR 2 has done some incredible things as our QB! But it is all stat loaded. We need big wins from our QB! No way he should have lost this game! These are the games QB's like Brees, Manning, Rogers, and others will their team to a win. We been waiting and waiting on our QB to enforce his will on an opponent...and we still waiting!

9. It is not just the fans starting to see MR2 as something is wrong! The national talking heads are starting to see it and the talking is getting louder from Bradshaw to Harrison to Fat Tony S.

10. Something is wrong with our QB and right now he is broken!

Dman
Dman

@AnsweredThis

Couple of thoughts, it was Freeman's fault on the handoff because it was a play action pass play. He thought it was a run. On the interception that was nullified for the off sides call, Matt knew he had a free play and tried to force the pass in for a TD plus he was hit right when he was throwing the ball. Can't blame him for that either.

I totally agree that Matt hasn't been throwing the ball deep, that makes me think something is wrong as well.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

Cosign on that free play INT; you spot on. But I have to differ on that handoff; watch MR try to pull that ball out. He wants to make a throw to Julio...the announcers also said as much yesterday. Or are you saying it was Freemans fault because he did not let the ball go? Hmmmm, interesting. Wish we were a fly on the sideline to know what happened. Don't make me right it just looks like he made another bad decision.

candlin14
candlin14

@AnsweredTHIS


come on Answered This, you know more then most of these fans on this site, but I have to repectfully disagree with some of these comments. How did our offensive line play well when they had 6+ holding calls? Levitre had two or three by himself. Our center is apart of the O-Line and this should not happen when you are in the NFL. 


I only remember Ryan throwing One Pick not two unless your counting the offsides play which you are. I don't know how anyone's stats are padded, you know what his stats were yesterday I don't need to re post them. As for the deep ball, I couldn't agree more on this one. Especially on a couple of the offisides on TB why not throw it up down field. If that is the one BEEF I have with our QB it is his inability to stretch the field.. With that said, I don't know why we are calling some of the plays we do. The shotgun play action or read option which caused a fumble should not be in our play book. Set up in shotgun and throw the ball or set up under center and run a play action pass. Also, Ryan should not be throwing the ball 47 times with our run game. That is just idiotic. I thought we should have run more against the saints and run more against the bucks.


6-2 with a new head coach and new O.C. is very good in my opinion. Turnovers are worrisome but we have found a way to get back in the ball game all year. 


As for defense, we are not that good. I don't know how we can say that our defense is solid. We are dead last in pressuring the QB and our secondary is borderline awful not to mention our Linebackers. Schoffield and Durant are our best LB's and Reed is a complete bust. Even if Ryan was perfect, yes we would have won yesterday but we will never go anywhere against an Arizona, Green Bay, Carolina, or New Orleans. They have solid QB's who will pick apart this secondary when they have all day to throw.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@candlin

MR 2 threw for over 300 yards so I am saying that the line played well enough to give him time to make those throws. The 6 holding calls are inexcusable but come on man TB was doing the same holding and I think they had one hold all day? Not right. The line open holes for Freeman to the tune of 88 yards. IMHO they played well.

As for Ryan the only stat I want from him is in the W column. If you recall, when we blogged during the Washington game you were all in MR a$$ about his play. I remember saying then stats are over rated and as long as we got the win I could care less how bad his numbers look. Now its vice versa, we did not get the win and I could care less about his stats.

As for the defense, look at what they have had to overcome the last 4 games. Count the number of turnovers they have had to overcome. The 86 Bears would get tired staying on the field stopping turnovers all day. With the exception of the Brees/NO game ( and I said that game also that Brees gets his against ANYBODY) the defense has given up how many points? And now check how many of those points were in direct correlation with turnovers. Our defense is playing servicable enough to win these games.

Now back up a little to what I aaid about Brees getting his against ANYBODY. Can we say that about our QB? And that is all I am saying about MR2. You know we cant.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@TideDawg

Hi my name is TideDawg and I am a Ryan apologist...Hi TideDawg.

😀

Dman
Dman

My understanding from listening to the after game show was that it was supposed to be a throw and not an option so that makes it Frees fault for grabbing the ball. But, the turnovers need to stop. Glad we aren't peaking too early like the Pats and Panthers.

candlin14
candlin14

@AnsweredTHIS


We agree on one thing and that is the REFS have been awful all year against ATL. Definitely one sided on holding calls. The PI's were borderline AWFUL. 


REFS are against us for sure

CedricM
CedricM

AtL was just flat and overconfident in this game, expecting an easy win against this bad bucs team. Plus, tampa got all the big breaks! Atl will pick it up big in the next 2 weeks and blow out the 49ers and Colts!

Eric_C
Eric_C

@SurfConcept that would be nice, but a win in any fashion would be great at this point.  I just hope they don't focus too much on not turning the ball over...they can't get tight and perpetuate the issue.  Turnovers have a way of evening out.  They are playing well otherwise and just need to keep working hard.

Acworthdon
Acworthdon

I'm at a loss to explain what I saw today.  Can anyone explain to me what type of offense we have in the red zone?

If that's a score plan .... who for?  Mercy!

candlin14
candlin14

Ryans Career record is 73-50 (.593 win percentage).


Better then Brees, Eli, Phillip Rivers, Carson Palmer, or Cam.


But our idiot fans want a new QB.



The guys four playoff loses are to teams who all made the super bowl and two of them won it.


WISE UP ATL

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

I for one dont want a new QB I want the one we have to fix whats wrong and he has not been able to do so!

Dman
Dman

Not yet, but he will...

candlin14
candlin14

@Mocha Fudge @candlin14


Brees got a gift wrapped Super Bowl Appearance because of Brett Favre. Sometimes you get breaks sometimes you dont. We have had a dead last in the league Defense the past two years and an improved but far from good defense this year. Still wont win the big game until we get a pass rush

candlin14
candlin14

In the history of the NFL, only two quarterbacks have ever strung together (3) or more consecutive seasons with 4,500+ passing yards, 25+ touchdown passes, while maintaining a completion percentage above 66.0. The first was Peyton Manning, whose streak has continued for (5) consecutive seasons (2009-10, 2012-14). The other is Matt Ryan.


In 2012: Ryan was backed by the NFL’s 5th ranked scoring defense, the Falcons boasted a league-best 13-3 record, as Ryan broke Falcons franchise marks for passing yardage (4,719), touchdown passes (32) and completion-percentage (68.6).

While his detractors preached that had yet to win a playoff game, Ryan’s Falcons became the first, and only, team to defeated the Seahawks’ famed "Legion of Boom" in the postseason, when healthy (see: Tom BradySuper Bowl XLIX vs. injured Sherman, Thomas and Chancellor).

Ryan’s 90.5 postseason QBR (2012) is the highest mark in QBR history — dating back to 2006.In the 2012 NFC Championship game vs. the 49ers 2nd ranked pass-defense (NY/A), Ryan recorded the highest single-game QBR in championship game historyand still lost.
Had the Falcons defense not allowed Colin Kaepernick to record the second highest total QBR in championship game history, the Falcons might have advanced to Super Bowl XLVII.

Things would only get worse for Ryan in the team-support department. The Falcons ranked 27th in points-surrendered in 2013 and 2014 — giving up a horrendous 26.9 points per-game. Their rushing-offense ranked 32nd (dead last) in 2013 — averaging only 77.9 yards per-game.
In 2013, Ryan completed 439 passes — the 7th highest single-season mark in NFL history at the time and the most everfor a quarterback supported by the NFL’s least productive rushing attack. Ryan’s 415 completions in 2014 ranked 2nd in the NFL — ahead of Roethlisberger (408), Peyton Manning (395), Luck (380), Brady (373) and Rodgers (341).
Ryan holds the NFL record for most completions in the first (7) years of a quarterback’s career.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@candlin14  That's an awful lot of facts. Does that help them get back to winning??

mscc
mscc

Give me Phillip Rivers with our team and we go deep into playoffs


candlin14
candlin14

@mscc


LOL... Yea Phillip sure has balled out in San Diego. Talk about stats with ZERO results!!!!

reckingball
reckingball

"gift wrap win"..........absolute truth, if the falcons had of just kicked field goals when they got close to the red zone, it's a win.

Yesterday's game was beyond pathetic.

Mix2011
Mix2011

Again I say, they Falcons are 2-3 years away.  Their record is not indicative of how good they are.  Every win has has been a come from behind win.  And now they are struggling to keep the ball and score points.  They are a rebuilding (defense) team.  I still say they should have taken Gurley but Freemen is holding it down so I hope Beasley will come into his own next year and the Falcons can make moves along the O and D line.  But it doesn't matter what they do if they turn the ball over. They have to fix that situation before anything good will happen.

loel
loel

Well, last week I was told to shut up, telling me I didn't know anything about football.  Here I go again. Trade,, Trade, Trade, Coleman and Roddie White.  They are good but Falcons don't need them.  They must, must, must have a pass rush.  Some of these NFL teams that are out of it(Houston) needs what the Falcons don't need.  Make the trade for a dominate pass rusher.  Just give the opposing quarterback just one and half seconds less to set and throw and the whole game changes for the better.  And another thing.  Leave, leave, leave Matt Ryan alone.  He is doing the best he can with a so so line.  Look how lowly Tampa Bay harassed Ryan the whole game you see something the Falcons can't do. His last pass attempt was an amazing effort,,,,, people hanging all over him, manages to get stable enough to get off a pass.  Wow.  And I still won't shut up by the way.

Oh yea, remember the clamor many of us who wanted  the Falcons to take Todd Gurley. We took Beasley and what has that gotten us.   Well, Gurley is now the best RB in the mighty NFL.  Beasley is so far, nothing worthy of the pick.  A back field with Freeman and Gurley,,,,,,, strong maybe.  With the two of them, you could now make any trade you want..  Oh, yea I don't know anything huh.  And by the way the Falons lost again yesterday to New England,,, no my bad, the lowly TB bucks.  As bad as the turnovers were, even worse was the lack of pressure on the rookie QB.  

candlin14
candlin14

@loel


I agree with a trade. Couldnt agree more. A center is now on the top of our list, that is for sure. Followed by a pass rusher. 

afx
afx

last year we gifted couple victories because of poor coach decisions, this year two more caused but unbelievable sloppy offensive plays. each year should be different reason, so my predictions for 2016 - 3 victories will take away from Falcons by bad refereeing, 2017 couple more by malfunction equipment in new dome. collapses in years after 2017 should be determined.  

CouchPotato
CouchPotato

@afx  You show it doesn't take genius to blog, but being a dumb a$$ is certainly permitted

cspecial
cspecial

it was a case of terrible officiating and matt ryan buying into the leagues proposal to throw the game.it was obvious the officials were cheating the falcons.i stop watching it until the overtime.that pass interference call and neutralizing vic beasely pass rush by calling offsides killed the falcons.ryan threw away i counted, 21 points just like the saints game.if he is not going to win for you then you need to get someone else at QB.the falcons coaches and fans just sit back and allowed officials to take the game.booing isn"t going to make them stop.they were making calls against the falcons i see teams like new england, green bay and arizona get away with all of the time.something should be done about these and other officials who cheats certain teams.this game reminded me of the saints and detroit games where the officials were determine they were going to let the falcons lose.if this is what the falcons coaches and matt ryan are going to give us then im dissing them along with the braves and follow the hawks for the season.