Overreaction Monday: Everybody wins (but everybody has issues)

Brooks Reed of the Falcons celebrates with teammates after sacking Chicago’s Mike Glennon, effectively clinch a win over the Bears Sunday at Chicago’s Soldier Field. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Back home from “Georgia Takeover Weekend” in Chicago and South Bend, Ind.

I’ve never seen anything like Saturday, when half of Notre Dame’s stadium was filled with Bulldogs’ fans for an important early season games, and the Falcons similarly had thousands of fans at Sunday’s game over the Bears. It was a rare nirvana weekend for Atlanta sports fans: The Falcons, Dogs and Georgia Tech all won. But it wasn’t perfect. Which leads me to bring back the panic. It’s time again for Overreaction Monday:

Falcons

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was happy his team won the opener but he’ll be happier when his team’ running game gets in gear. (AP photo)

What happened: They opened the season with a 23-17 win over the Chicago Bears.

Next game: Home against Green Bay.

Panic narrative(s): “Steve Sarkisian is overmatched! The defense still stinks! Wes Schweitzer is a mess!”

Reality check: Let’s start with the offense, because that was the aspect about Sunday’s game that probably jolted most. The Falcons averaged nearly 34 points per game last season and scored 23 or less only twice last season (23-16 win over Denver; 24-15 loss at Philadelphia). The team’s biggest change is Sarkisian is now the offensive coordinator, not Kyle Shanahan. But to judge Sarkisian on one game is silly (just as judging Shanahan on the entire underwhelming 2015 season was premature). The Falcons’ biggest problem against the Bears was that their offensive line had a poor day against Chicago’s front seven. They couldn’t run the ball. Totals: 64 yards, 2.8 per carry, with Matt Ryan having a longer gain (13 yards) than either Devonta Freeman (6) or Tevin Coleman (7). Was Schweitzer’s start concerning? Absolutely. He won the starting right guard job but struggled much of the day. But I doubt coaches will make a change after one game, especially since Schweitzer beat out Ben Garland for the job.

On the defense: The unit actually played well most of the game and showed an effective and balanced pass rush. Brooks Reed had two sacks, Vic Beasley and Brian Poole on a blitz each had one. The Falcons were credited with 10 “quarterback hits” against the Bears’ Mike Glennon. They’ll take that. But when Chicago opened up the attack after the Falcons took a 20-10 lead in the fourth quarter, the defense didn’t respond well. The Bears are not expected to have one of the NFL’s better offenses this season but their last two possessions went for 75 yards and a touchdown, and 68 yards and a near score (they reached the Falcons’ five-yard line before a fourth-down sack by Reed). That was a bad sign, especially for those who will flashback to the Super Bowl collapse. The other blemish on the day: two missed tackles by Reed and Deion Jones on a 46-yard run by Tarik Cohen that led to Chicago’s first touchdown.

Georgia

Georgia coach Kirby Smart watches from the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. Georgia won 20-19. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

What happened: The Bulldogs, starting freshman Jake Froom at quarterback, rallied to win at Notre Dame 20-19 in their first real rest of the season.

Next game: Home against Samford.

Panic narrative(s): “We can’t win the SEC East with this offense!”

Reality check: Actually, they can. It’s true that the Dogs don’t have a wide margin for error and therefore probably can’t afford to have two turnovers by the quarterback every game (Fromm had a fumble on a botched handoff, which led to a Notre Dame touchdown, and an interception). But it was a positive sign that Fromm, while obviously committing several “freshman” mistakes, never seemed panicked or overwhelmed by the moment. The bigger issue is the youth across the offensive line, which needs to continue to improve. But Georgia can win a lot of games like this with defense. By far the most encouraging sign from Saturday was the play of Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy, who combined for two sacks, four quarterback hits, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 13 tackles and two and a half tackles for loss. Defense was expected to be a strength and there’s no reason the team can’t win a number of grind-it-out, low-scoring games in the East Division.

Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall tosses the ball back on an option play against Jacksonville State Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium. (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

What happened: They rebounded from a tough double-overtime loss to Tennessee to easily beat Jacksonville State 37-10.

Next game: at Central Florida.

Panic narrative(s): “Forget a win over an FCS school. The defense needs to stop somebody that matters.”

Reality check: Well, yeah. The good — make that the really good — about Georgia Tech is that despite losing its starting quarterback (Justin Thomas) to graduation and dismissing running back Dedrick Mills, the offense continues to produce: 78 points and 977 yards in two games. Credit some terrific play by new quarterback TaQuon Marshall. But offense has seldom been the problem during the Paul Johnson regime. Their season will be defined by whether they can play better defensively than they did in the second half and overtime against Tennessee, a game that should have gone down as a win. While a fumble by the Jackets’ J.J. Green opened the door to a Tennessee comeback in regulation and the overtime, it was the defense that collapsed. Tech led 21-7 early in the second quarter. The Volunteers failed to score on their first possession of the second half but then scored touchdowns on five of their next six possessions (including the two overtimes). Tech’s defense played more aggressively against Jacksonville State, using more blitzes and accounting for more tackles for loss and three turnover. But let’s be real: This was a FCS opponent. They’ll have a tougher test Saturday at Central Florida, which should be rested because its game against Memphis Saturday was canceled.

Revisiting the weekend

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Reader Comments 0

135 comments
loxize
loxize

Raise your hand if your team has never lost to 0HI0(31-0) State or Notre Dame.

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DawginLex
DawginLex

Raise your hand if your team has never lost to 0HI0(31-0) State or Notre Dame.


IN

desecim
desecim

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Eric_C
Eric_C

Sarkisian didn't make us forget Shanahan, but then Shanahan's team scored 3 points...the jury is still out

Eric_C
Eric_C

Yeah, I didn't like the lack of downfield throws..."that" is a bad sign.  And running Coleman right up the gut on 3rd and short rarely ever works out. 

Zapp
Zapp

Actually we learned a lot about Sarkisian.  He's a system type coordinator rather than making calls based on what the defense is doing.  He's a nickel and dime caller who doesn't chance downfield throws.  What you get is a slow progression down the field with no quick strike capability.  Most of Ryan throws were 4-8 yards, and we had enough of that when Smith was here.  He ran the ball too often against a seven man line, and never attempted to pull the defense away from the line with mid distance throws.  Yeah, we know who he is, and probably Ryan will have run in with him if things don't change quickly.

Bug
Bug

Changing the offense to run/short passes in order to control the game is not a formula for success. The defense is much better, throw it deep and often like last year and the team will be fine...as for the RG, he is no better or worse that what we had last year which means he sucks. I did not actually see him block anyone in the run game although his pass blocking was not that bad but he is the weak link. and he is what will keep the Falcons from winning when they need to.

Bug
Bug

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twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

2-0 hurts the little ten troll. Look how upset he got over that one.

Bawahwahwahwah

FlatTire
FlatTire

Recent history?  how about 2-17 vs real Southern Football

Not even in the top 15 in bowl wins

Steam rolled by Clemson and now Oklahoma


no worries though the media has your back like last year.  didn't drop from the top 10;  not even winning that lousy conference  last but still got into the playoff

Big Wally
Big Wally

@FlatTire Midwestern teams have to receive charity votes because they want all those television sets in January watching the college football playoffs.  

Big Wally
Big Wally

Urban Crier can't stomach all this losing (2 out of 3 games were blowout losses).  Expect to see more recruiting of teacher-beaters.

Big Wally
Big Wally

@TOJacket Ah, coming to the defense of your alter - ego.  So heart warming.  

Grant1296
Grant1296

He also isn't a fifth year senior...

Big Wally
Big Wally

ESPN is reporting that Baker Mayfield has a rib injury from last Saturday.  He was laughing so hard at the Ohio State secondary that he pulled a muscle in his rib cage...........................

OH:IO
OH:IO

@Big Wally


Probably due to the punk bush league flag plant that he had to apologize for. 

Big Wally
Big Wally

@OH:IO @Big Wally Since there weren't any Ohio State fans left in the stadium to see it, not sure who he was apologizing to exactly.

Big Wally
Big Wally

@OH:IO @Big Wally He only apologized because he didn't want to offend all those bed wetting sports writers in the midwest.  Deep down you just know he loved every minute of it and will til the day he dies.  

Big Wally
Big Wally

386 yards passing,  3 TD's, 0 interceptions, 77% completion percentage.  If Baker Mayfield played Ohio State every week, he would break every QB record there is.


bwhahahahahahah.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Not if Tech was playing Tennessee

Grant1296
Grant1296

Losing to Tennessee ya mean..

Big Wally
Big Wally

@Grant1296 Isn't it cute how TO has to insert himself into every conversation that involves Blowhio.   Will someone post something about Tech so TO will have something relevant to contribute?

Big Wally
Big Wally

@OH:IO Can you go to a more recent picture, say when Ray Goff beat Ohio State?

Big Wally
Big Wally

@OH:IO @Big Wally Don't have to, I was there in the Superdome to watch the Championship game. Was there the next two years as well.


Glory, Glory

TOJacket
TOJacket

You're that old and post as juvenile as you do? I think you're FOS...I was at the one against Marino, he made my trip.

OH:IO
OH:IO

@Big Wally @OH:IO


I was at the Ice Bowl and Super Bowl 1. Partied w/ Zeke Bartkowski the night before. 

Big Wally
Big Wally

@TOJacket I couldn't care less what you think dip s__t. I went to New Orleans 3 years in a row.  Started when I was 18 years old.  The Pitt game was painful.  Will say this, between Pitt, Penn State and Notre Dame, the Pitt fans were the worse.

Big Wally
Big Wally

Hey Blowhio, didn't you say they didn't play defense in the Big 12?

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

Nobody is interested in your Groundhog Day rants about the SEC or UGA loser.

you lost!

twelveofthirteen
twelveofthirteen

2-0 in 2017 you loser troll.

Sorry you can't say the same. Hurts I am sure.

Now go take a nap and don't come back troll!

OH:IO
OH:IO

@twelveofthirteen


2-0 in 2017? App State? A glorified Catholic High School team? SaMMMMford this week? 


You are the epitome of a delusional dog. Were you even alive in 1980? Ha! All you got is that grainy tape. 

TOJacket
TOJacket

It hasn't been remade in HD?

OH:IO
OH:IO

@TOJacket


There's Herschel and Munson - got that workin' for him. 

OH:IO
OH:IO

@twelveofthirteen


A bit defensive on the SEC! SEC! point. Hmmm. Symptom of a Coattail Rider, for sure. 

TOJacket
TOJacket

And a beautiful fall day here between what's left of the hedges!