I'm sure that you see that there's a difference this year. I think we agree on that. I think that we disagree a bit on how much of a difference there is.
As I've stated before, I think this season's success boils entirely to how the Falcons perform in the postseason. They could easily win 12 or 13 games in the regular season, but if they have zero playoff wins, then it is really a wasted year. Not a complete waste, but they are going to have to approach the 2013 off-season with a mindset of dramatically revamping their roster. Not a true rebuild, but a major "reload."
I do think they have improved. But I also believe that the postseason and regular season are completely separate animals. The Falcons have shown that they are regular season champs, but postseason chumps. And
And I need to see as the rest of the reg. season plays out, strong indicators that this is better prepared. And IMHO one of those indicators is how well Julio Jones plays.
As discussed before, there will be two formulas to beating this team the rest of this season: 1) Teams that can run the ball and control the LOS on both sides of the ball. 2) Teams that are comfortable getting into shootouts with us, and can rush the QB.
San Fran, Chicago, Seattle is one of the former teams, Philly, GB and NYG are two of the latter teams, to name a few of the prospective NFC playoff teams.
The way the Falcons will beat those teams is if all of the Triplets (Julio, Roddy, & Gonzo) are playing at a relatively high level. They don't need all 3 to put up 120-yard games, but just be contributing to the team's ability to win. And you look at the pair of games where that did happen: KC & SD, weren't against playoff-caliber defenses, because neither of those two teams were able to put pressure on our QB. That's not going to be the case if/when we play SF and Justin Smith and Aldon Smith are lining up across us, or NYG when we have to try and deal with Osi, Tuck, and JPP or Philly when it's the law firm of Cole, Jenkins, Cox, and Babin.
A team like SF doesn't need its offense firing on all cylinders because they have a defense that is going to hold even quality opponents to 14 or 17 points. Their offense really only has to score 17 or 20 points, and they can win games. So they can get away with Alex Smith, etc. not playing at a high level.
This Falcon D isn't built to do that. They're going to have to win games against quality opponents 28-24 or 30-27. Now maybe this group improves as the season unfolds and we get closer to that point. But I doubt it with our mediocre pass rush, that is probably not going to improve. Not unless Dunta Robinson really starts to live up to his contract and become one of the top No. 2 CBs in the league a la Tramon Williams in 2010.
So the Falcons are going to have to be able to put up a lot of points. And against the defenses we're likely to see in the playoffs, it's going to be a lot harder than it has been these first 4 weeks. When you look at a defense that is closest to what we may see in January, you see the Broncos.
And despite the win and the strong play of Matt Ryan, the offense did not particularly have a great game that week. Ten of the 27 points we scored were basically gifted by Broncos turnovers in their own territory. Do you think Eli Manning is going to throw 4 first quarter INTs because he doesn't have a strong arm? The Falcons only converted 38% of their third downs that game (tied with the CAR game for our lowest this season), and averaged 4.2 yards per play in that game. In the 3 other games, they've averaged a combined 6.3 yards per play.
So that you can understand those numbers in context, the Giants currently are averaging 6.3 yards per play this year, good enough for 3rd best in the league. The Cardinals on the other hand, are averaging 4.3 yards per play, good enough for dead last in the NFL.
And so if you get into a situation in the playoffs like it was with DEN, where your offense is just Roddy, just Tony, no Julio, and it's going up against one of those quality playoff defenses, then what's likely to happen is that like 3 out of the last 4 years, this team is going to be outclassed in January.
fun gus wrote:
Another thing we agree on... The OL is a patchwork mess. I doubt that Ryan can continue to perform at an MVP level if he continues to take the kinds of hits that he took on Sunday. We still have some time to do something about this. The question is, does the staff recognize this as a personnel issue, and are they willing to do something about it?
the question here is 'what can we do'?
Clabo is injured and stinks. We put in our Johnson in his place, and thier Johnson was simply much bigger.
So I dont really see a solution here....
I think the O-line is what it is. Frankly, barring this past week's game, as a whole IMO this O-line is overachieving. I don't think you can ask for or really expect them to do more. Thus why I think you have to make up for it in other areas, thus why you need Julio Jones to play better than he has in some of these games.
If I was to propose a theory, it would be this: When Matt Ryan feels pressured, he stops looking at Julio. And he starts to hone in on the guys he trusts, which of course are Tony and Roddy, because he knows these guys will get open quickly and will move the chains. Not to mention, from what I've seen on the All-22, a larger percentage of Julio Jones' routes are vertical, longer-developing ones.
How do you fix that? Do you change the routes Julio is running? Do you just cross your fingers and hope that by Week 17, Matt and Julio's rapport is much, much stronger? Does Dirk Koetter devote a chunk of his gameplan and play-calling specifically to try and get Julio the ball in other ways such as screens, end-arounds, quick slants, reverses, etc.?
I don't know. But it's one of those things that we need to monitor the rest of the season particularly when we get into the meat of the schedule post-bye.