Now we must work on Pudge....less is more!
fun gus wrote:
When you go flat in the third Qtr in big games time after time, after time... I call that not having a 'killer instinct'
(We scored 129 points in the fourth qtr last year and 68 in the third)
Some people don't want to look at Smitty because of his record, but there is a reason the same problems persist even though personnel changes (OC, DC, players). We can't rise to the challenge of making a statement in big games because we don't have a coach who prides himself in making statements through his playcalling.. I can only think of two games off the top of my head in the last four years where Smitty 'poured it on' and didn't turtle up...I'm not asking for a Rex Ryan, but being even keeled gets you a ton of regular season wins because you can beat weak teams, but you struggle with teams who are better at getting up for the game. We have a Porsche, and get off the block fast, then drive it like a Prius. When we get up by 10-17 points, we go into TOP mode, and the team flatlines. This not only happens in BIG games, it is almost a hallmark of the teams identity, at this point...
But you have to look at the reasons why we don't score in the third quarter. That is what I try to do when I review games.
And to be honest, IMO this is what happens when the only football you really watch is the Falcons game live on Sunday. I know for me, that I always see 2-3 times more things in rewatching a game that I never even noticed live.
Let's just look at the why/how of the Falcons 3rd quarter vs. the Saints.
1. Saints start the 3rd quarter with a three & out thanks to a pressure by Babs on 3rd down, leading to a Corey Peters sack. Did the Falcons show a lack of a killer instinct on that series, coming out and holding the Saints to their only 3 & out of the game?
2. On 2nd play of Falcons series, Jackson runs for a 50-yd gain, putting Falcons at NO 5. They score 3 plays later on a pass to Julio. Hmmm, the drive seemed to work because of a big play by Jackson. Looks like plenty of killer instinct...
3. Saints get ball back, and near midfield on 5th play of their drive, Sproles beats William Moore on a wheel route for 22 yards. Next play, Moore nearly picks off the Brees pass, but drops it. Would've given the Falcons the ball back around their own 16. 2 plays later, Kenny stills beats McClain for a 1st down on a deep comeback, putting the Saints at our 19. DeCoud whiffs on a tackle on Graham 3 plays later, and the Saints are in the endzone. Did Moore drop the INT because he lacks killer instinct, and DeCoud miss his tackle because of that? Moore usually makes that play, but we all know that DeCoud is a piss-poor tackler.
4. Falcons get ball back, run off tackle off left side. Cameron Jordan beats Baker at the point of attack and tackles Jackson for a 1-yd gain. The next play, Baker gets beat by Haralson for a 7-yard loss on a sack. Part of that was because Baker didn't stay square with the line (his fault), and the other part of that was because his feet got tangled with those of Steven Jackson as he tried to step up and pick up the blitzing David Hawthorne. Then on 3rd & 18 at their own 14, they try to run a screen to Snelling, but Lamar Holmes is completely lost as he doesn't know whether he should try and block Cameron Jordan or let him through. Well Jordan gets through and rushes Ryan's throw. Doesn't help that I'm not sure Snelling ran the screen the way it was drawn up. The linemen pulled left on the screen, while Snelling cut back right across the middle of the field, he got stuck in traffic for a moment and the ball fell incomplete. Punt. Why did that drive fail? Lacking killer instinct, or simply because Baker & Holmes aren't very good?
5. Robert Alford picks off Drew Brees pass on 1st down giving us the ball at the ATL 45. What is this... Killer instinct?
6. On 1st down, Holmes slides to try and block Akiem Hicks, who just shrugs him off with a simple power move, and makes a beeline to Ryan for a sack and an 8-yard loss. So the Falcons draw up the same screen they did earlier, this time to Quizz on the right side. Baker gets beat by Junior Galette, which Ryan feels off the backside, and starts to roll right. But what really kills this play is that Cameron Jordan gets pressure right in Ryan's face, just as he is starting to roll to his right. Jordan beats Holmes who doesn't even punch and bowls him backwards into the backfield. Ryan simply throws it away. On 3rd & 18, they run a more traditional play. They have bracket coverage on Julio and Ryan checks it down to Snelling believing that he'll have some room to run for the 1st down due to Julio pulling the coverage deep. But Jabari Greer and Roman Harper react well to the play and bottle up Snelling for only a 9-yd gain. Punt. At least Antone Smith downed it at the Saints 3. Again, that drive seemed to fail because Holmes stunk
7. On 3rd & 1 at their own 12, the Saints run a sweep left to Pierre Thomas. He gets 11 yards because it's well-blocked. Someone (Ben Grubbs) finally blocks Babs. Jimmy Graham chips Massaquoi. Nick Toon locks up McClain. Charles Brown pulls outside and gets Trufant. Thankfully if Jed Collins hadn't gotten confused about whether to peel back for Spoon or keep going upfield to block DeCoud, that play could have been a lot worse. DeCoud winds up getting in Thomas' way, and makes the stop. The 3rd quarter ends after Brees hits Jimmy Graham on a 10-yd pass giving the Saints 1st & 10 at the NO 37. Eventually they punt 6 plays later thanks to Brees throwing behind a stumbling Jimmy Graham on a quick out which probably would've been a 1st on 2nd & 7. Then the next play, Brees misses Lance Moore who stopped his route to sit over the middle when Brees thought he was going to keep going. Did the Falcons D lack killer instinct or where the Saints out-executing them until they stopped?
And truth be told, you can go to any Falcon game in the past and see similar clear-cut reasons why they fail to score or did in fact score. Football is about execution. And the Falcons didn't score after that opening drive of the 3rd quarter because they did not execute, particularly up front.
It's funny because the biggest advocate of the "Falcons Lack Killer INstinct" Theory is the biggest advocate of the "Falcons OL is Terrible." They are somewhat incompatible in this instance.
Now, if you want to argue that the poor blocking was due to their lack of killer instinct, then that's up to you. But I think that is downright goofy. The poor blocking is because Sam Baker has had maybe 20 good starts in 57 career starts going into this week, so I might argue that in any given game there's about a 35% chance of Baker playing well. And Lamar Holmes was playing in his 1st start, a player that was a 3rd round pick, but a 5th/6th round talent that didn't really earn a starting position in camp, but was handing it because the Falcons really had no better options. And it's very telling about Holmes in that he was almost beat out by an undrafted rookie OT from a Div 2 school that has only played football for 3 years.
And if you want to say their poor performances were due to the coaching staff not instilling a killer instinct into its players, then be my guest.