Well I think its really obvious that this years hopefully " playoff team " and last years playoff team seem on different paths.
I agree with that with the caveat that the Falcons continue to develop and expand their passing game.
Offensively, I believe this team has the potential to mirror the New York Giants last year. In the sense that they have a weak running game that will probably be a non-factor, and they will rely on their passing to win most if not all of their games. But this offense needs to develop the threat of the vertical pass, otherwise opponents will adjust and be able to slow this offense down because they will adapt. Defenses always do. The Falcons have basically become under Koetter a team that controls the ball with short/intermediate passing instead of running. And that's not a complaint. Because this type of offense (horizontal spread) is the same style of offense that myself and others have been saying fits Matt Ryan the best, and the proof is in the pudding based on how well he's played and how sharp he's looked through 3 games.
IMO, if they cannot begin to develop the big play aspect of their offense, they are going to be limited. They almost had one of those big plays on the bomb to Roddy, but the flagged negated it. But IMO, if this offense (and thusly team) is going to reach its full potential, plays like that need to be regular sights each and every week.
Since when did being an opportunistic defense was a bad thing?
I never said it was a bad thing. I just think there is this perception out there that things on defense are night and day, and I don't think they are. They may be in the coach's booth, but on the field (where it counts), they are not. The perception seems to be that this year's defense is great, magnificent, wonderful, brilliant, etc. And if people believe that then fine. But I think whatever superlatives and adjectives you apply to this year's defense, should be applied to last year's defense with the words "slightly less" applied in front of it.
Like I said, I don't think it's night and day. I think it's dusk and day.
This defense is succeeding because mainly the offense's ability to build early leads IMO. And I'm not going to get too caught up in the "opportunistic" aspects of our defense. We've seen this before with Nolan defenses. Think back to the '09 Broncos. They began the season 6-0, in large part due to an opportunistic defense: 12 TOs forced in those games, and +7 on margin, allowing 11 points per game against what were considered top offenses: NE, SD, and DAL.
Then they hit their bye week, and lost the turnover margin their next 4 games (only 2 TOs caused), and their defense stopped stopping people. They lost all 4 games. Then they were able to create turnovers once again down the stretch in the final 6 games (16 TOs forced), but they still managed only a 2-4 finish.
Now I'm not saying this will happen to the Falcons. We have Matt Ryan not Kyle Orton. We have Mike Smith not Josh McDaniels. And I doubt he and Nolan have a falling out akin to what Josh McD and Nolan had that year.
The point I'm trying to illustrate here is that there will definitely be a time this year where the Falcons defense isn't going to be able to create 2, 3, or 4 TOs a game. They are going to generate none. And there are potentially games that the Falcons offense is not going to be able to build 2-score leads 20 minutes into the game. And perhaps those two types of games could coincide.
And IMO, that will be a much better litmus test to indicate how much the Falcons defense has improved under Nolan. Will the defense without a player fumbling at the 7 yard line be able to stop opponents and force FGs? Will they be able to get off the field on 3rd & 9? Will this team be able to get after the QB when it's not facing one of the worst O-lines in the league?
These are questions I want answered before I'm willing to say Nolan has taken us leaps and bounds away from where Van Gorder had us last year...