Notes from cocktail napkins...Go for it on 4th down!
I am not in panic mode after the Falcons 27-23 loss to the Dolphins. Despite all the injuries we were clearly the better team. We dominated time of possession, gashed the Miami defense with big plays and then choked in the red zone. If we got blown out of the building the way the Giants did Sunday against Carolina I would be wigging out. But the lack of execution in the red zone, with blown blocking assignments, dumb penalties and Matt Ryan throwing the ball away, not trying to make things happen did have me losing my mind Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.
But what really ticked me off was the lack of balls...its 4th and less than a yard on your opponent’s 2 yard line. GO FOR IT!!! At that point in the game, with just over 2 minutes left why settle for 3? Keep the pedal to the metal and go up by 10. If you don't get it the Dolphins have to go 99 yards. They had only mustered one scoring drive in the first half thanks to a big Lamar Miller run.
The same goes for earlier in the 2nd quarter when on a 4th and 2 from the Dolphins 34, Smitty settled for a long field goal attempt. The Falcons had chances to blow the game wide open, they settled for field goals, and then went into their usual 2nd half swoon and let a lesser opponent crawl back into the game and eventually win it
Did I mention the coaching staff's disastrous clock management at the end of the game? It was apparent to everyone in attendance; Miami was at the very least going to be in position for a game tying FG. How about burning some timeouts and give Matt Ryan and the offense some time to win back the game. That's inexcusable. About as inexcusable as Thomas DeCoud's tackling or the DB's sitting 15 yards off the ball when the Dolphins needed 3 yards for a first down!
Why can’t the Falcons put other teams away? This is 5 games in a row where Atlanta has blown double digit leads. How about sending a message to the team? How about stop settling for field goals, especially when there is a precedent. We've done it before. Mike Smith has a history of rolling the dice on 4th down, even on his side of the 50...so what's happened?
Falcon fans don't want to hear about injuries, every team in the NFL is banged up. The 49ers are 1-2; Green Bay is 1-2, so by no means is it time to hit the panic button. Roddy White will get his ankle healthier and then teams will have to focus more on him and Julio which will presumably open things up for Tony Gonzalez.
Falcon fans don't want to hear about 5 years in a row of winning seasons. The old days are a distant memory. This team is established now as one of the NFL's perennial playoff contenders like the Texans in the AFC; we're close but just not there. It's time for the Falcons to take it to the next level.
And it starts with some attitude and confidence from the coaching staff and the players executing on the field.
The defense despite our preseason concerns is good enough. Thomas Dimitroff drafted 2 studs in Alford and Trufant; Joplo Bartu may even be an upgrade at linebacker. The calculated risk of releasing Tyson Clabo manifested itself again Sunday. I still don't understand the need for Steven Jackson when Snelling and Quizz Rodgers can more than handle the load. If Lamar Holmes isn't the man for the job that too is on the GM.
The high priced, high octane offense is the issue. It has to score in the red zone. And scoring in the red zone needs to be 6 not 3.