TAMPA –To read my take on the Falcons’ 23-19 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, click this link.
Below are my three “short takes” on the game.
1. Playoffs?!? You kidding me?!? Playoffs?!? You can almost hear the famous Jim Mora quote echoing off the walls in the Falcons’ Flowery Branch headquarters. What once looked like a certainty at 5-0 is now unlikely. Here’s why: After five straight losses and six in the last seven games, the Falcons are 6-6. The best they can finish is 10-6. They still have to play Carolina twice, and it will be a challenge to beat the Panthers once, let alone sweep them. The Falcons’ other games are at Jacksonville and home against New Orleans in the season finale. The other problem is tiebreakers. With the NFC South Division race decided, the Falcons will need to scramble for a wild card berth, but they are 0-3 in the division and 4-5 in the conference. So they likely would have to win the spot outright. The two wild card spots right now are owned by Minnesota (8-4) and Seattle (7-5). The Falcons and Tampa Bay each are one game back, but the Falcons lose any tiebreaker to the Buccaneers, having been swept in the season series.
2. Ryan wasn’t awful but wasn’t great: Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (30 of 45, 269 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception) has been dreadful of late but I don’t know how much blame to assign to him for this loss because pass protection was poor (three sacks) and he had at least three passes that were dropped, including a crucial one by Nick Williams in the fourth quarter that would’ve gained a first down when the Falcons were leading 19-16. But Ryan did not do enough to beat a mediocre team, and in the end it was a rookie quarterback Jameis Winston who accomplished something Ryan didn’t: The Bucs’ QB won the game with a 20-yard scramble and a six-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans. After five interceptions in the previous two weeks, Ryan didn’t throw one Sunday until the end. But “Matty Ice” used to come through in those situations.
3. Arthur Blank can’t be a happy man: This is a big season for the Falcons’ owner, not so much on the field as off of it. Blank is desperately trying to sell Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs) in the new stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2017. But the team is coming off a 6-10 season and this is looking like a non-playoff year. There’s an obvious sales ripple effect from the lack of enthusiasm suddenly around the team, a contrast to the first six weeks of the season. The last thing Blank wants to do is put PSLs on Groupon.
Recent ramblings• Falcons season goes from fantasy to nightmare • Georgia’s hiring of Kirby Smart looks good by comparison • If Alabama’s defense is a sign, Kirby Smart looks ready to be a head coach • Short takes: defense, running game could carry Alabama to national title • Here’s hoping Mark Richt is doing this for right reasons • Weekend Predictions: Alabama restores order after a wacky week • Blog: Miami makes a great hire; did Richt make a great decision? • On Kirby Smart, coordinators, loud but effective strength coach (video) • Kirby Smart hire makes sense for Georgia, even if wow factor lacking • Richt will enjoy quiet for first time, may be done coaching • Greg McGarity’s career will be defined by first major hire • Falcons have a problem, and surprisingly it’s their quarterback • Richt’s firing confirms what many believed: It was time for a change • McGarity mum on Richt, and Georgia’s win doesn’t feel like a celebration • Short takes on Georgia’s win • Johnson, Bobinski confident about Tech’s future • Weekend Predictions: Dogs over Jackets in Bad Aura Bowl • A new tradition, in the spirit of Furman Bisher: Giving thanks (to those who deserve it) • Overreaction Monday: Richt’s status, Ryan’s fall, and does Tech have a chance? • Georgia Tech loses Justin Thomas, ball and all hope • Short takes: Jackets lose Thomas, fumble nine times (yes, nine) • Weekend Predictions: It’s marshmallow opponent week • Coppolella tired of being roasted, says, ‘We are not tanking’ • Roddy White has survived far worse things than reduced role in offense: tragedy • Why are those Freeman T-shirts included in Braves’ clearance sale? • Overreaction Monday: Richt’s ploy, Falcons’ bye, Braves’ salary dump • Jeremy Pruitt’s defense is salvaging Georgia’s season • Short takes on Georgia’s win over Auburn • Simmons gone, and Braves’ offseason already looking like last one • Weekend Predictions: It’s not a good time to invest in Georgia • Former Georgia player Faloughi at center of Missouri protests • Overreaction Monday: Kyle Shanahan, have you met Roddy White? • Latest Falcons’ embarrassment is on Dan Quinn • Short takes: This Falcons’ loss is on Dan Quinn • Weekend Predictions: Dogs in middle of Dysfunction Junction • Georgia’s finish, Eason status shouldn’t tilt Richt decision • Richt should take over Georgia’s struggling offense • Overreaction Monday: Loss-loss-loss means chaos all around • Mark Richt has failed too many big moments — it’s time for a change at Georgia • Falcons may be 6-2 but they don’t look the part • Short takes: Sloppy Falcons gift-wrap game for mediocre Bucs • Matt Ryan: ‘It comes down to me being better’