Just to finish another point on the rant, I'll get to your comment in a sec fun gus.
There were easily 4 games that the Falcons relaly had no business winning last year.
They get outplayed by the Raiders, but thanks to a pick six out of nowhere from Asante Samuel they win that game. They get outplayed by Arizona, but because the Cards offense is absolutely inept, they stay in the game. They can barely beat the Saints despite an 11-point swing to start the 3rd quarter and 5 picks by Drew Brees. If Ron Rivera goes for it on 4th & inches instead of punting it, they should have lost the first Falcon game. Cyril said it himself, if RG3 doesn't get concussed in Week 5, then the Falcons probably aren't going to win that game because they were not playing well up until that point. If Peyton Manning doesn't throw 3 1st quarter picks which the Falcons turn into 10 pts, we probably don't win that game.
The Falcons are like 5 plays away from being a 9-7 team. And the point I'm trying to make is how much different the perception is between a team that finishes 9-7 vs. one that finishes 13-3.
If the Falcons were 9-7 as their talent suggests, people would know that this is a team like the '08 Cardinals, '11 Giants, etc. that would need to get hot in January to even have a shot. They would have to overachieve in the playoffs to win games and make a deep run.
But because the team is 13-3, and the perception is that if the Falcons can mantain the status quo, they should be able to beat other playoff teams and thus should be in the NFC Championship every year.
You should not be perceiving the Falcons as your typical 12 or 13-win team, which is typically a dominant football team.
This is not one of those teams. Our 2012 squad was the best we've ever had under Smith, and they still weren't that good. They were a terrible rushing team. No big deal right, so were the SB-winning Packers and Giants teams the 2 previous years. But guess what? Those teams were Top 10 in the league in generating big plays in the passing game, to make up for that. Where were the 2012 Falcons? 29th? It doesn't balance out.
If you can't run with any efficiency, you have to make up for it by being able to generate big plays with your passing attack. The Giants/Packers could generate 4 or 5 big plays which put them in prime scoring position that they're running game cannot. But the Falcons on the other hand, are more like 1 or 2. And when you're going up against a Top 5 or 10 defense in January, like you often
find, it's much easier for them to prevent 1 or 2 big plays to Julio Jones and Roddy White, than 4 or 5 to Nicks, Manningham, Jordy Nelson, Cruz, etc. Especially when you have a QB in Atlanta that doesn't like to throw deep, and a pair of QBs in GB & NY that are 2 of the 3 most inclined/productive vertical passers in the game (Flacco is the 3rd).
Most 13-3 teams have good defenses. Not the 2012 Falcons. They were highly opportunistic at home, generating 18 turnovers in 8 home games during the regular season. And they were opportunstic early on the road, generating 9 turnovers in their first 3 road games. But they were only able to generate 4 in their final 5. And you can't sustain those high TO rates when you don't have a pass rush that can affect the QB. Pass rush is one of the key factors in generating TOs. We couldn't stop the run last year. Thus putting more pressure on your ability to generate TOs in order to get stops because any good rushing team is going to be able to move the ball against you.
Everything about this Falcon team screams 9-7. But yet we continue to consitently win more games. That's becasue of Mike Smith. That's because of Matt Ryan.
I'm not saying the Falcosn can't win a Super Bowl. But in order to do that, they'd have to go so far and above themselves that it really isn't that realistic a goal. They have to have ideal conditions. They need Matt Ryan playing at an elite level, which is hard to do when you don't really have much of a vertical element to your passing attack. You need the OL to not suck in order to give Ryan the time to be efficient and judicious with the football. You need a functional running game, whcih the Falcons haven't had for 2 seasons. You also need this team playing at home in the playoffs, so they have to win as many regular season games as possible. Because we don't have a defense that can win on the road. You have teams like the Packers & Giants. Again, the Packers had the #1-rated pass defense in 2010, and the 2nd best defense overall that year. That's a defense that you can take on the road. The Giants had a very good pass rush. That's something you can take on the road.
They need perfect conditions. They have to hope that WEst Coast teams like Seattle & San Fran are groggy to start the game, and have to put up a bunch of points early. Because in reality they aren't good enough to keep scoring non-stop against arguably the 2 best defenses in the league because they can't run the ball, they aren't great at protecting the QB, and they don't excel at generating big plays offensively.
The Falcons can't move the ball against defenses like that. They couldn't do it against the Broncos in Week 2. They scored 17 points after the 1st quarter turnover fest because Julio Jones did squadoosh, and the Falcons had to resort to quick, 3-step drops to protect themselves against Von Miller and the Broncos pass rush. The Falcons generated 67 yards on the ground in that game, and took them 3 plays to run it in from the 1-yard line after Peyton's first INT. If that game is 2 minutes longer the Broncos likely win.
I'm not syaing the Falcons suck. But people need to understand that when they play other 13-3 caliber teams like the Broncos, Seahawks, and 49ers, they don't have the talent to go toe to toe with them for 4 quarters. They basically survive by being able to outplay them for 1 or 2 quarters, and hope that is enough to carry them over for the remaining 2 or 3.
And I keep hearing from folks that it's bad coaching, or subpar Qb play, or lack of killer instinct, blah blah blah. And all that is BS, it's all a red herring to hide what is clearly in front of you if you just pay attention: they struggle because they have a terrible running game, mediocre O-line play, no pass rush, no run defense.
And until the Falcons reach a point that they can do one of those other things at a very high level to couple with their highly efficient (but not explosive) passing attack, then there's really no point why anybody should be disappointed with this team.
fun gus wrote:
Look, I said if we had gone one and out last season, it was time for Smith 'to go'. But, we made 'progress' and finally won a playoff game. But now the 'bar' is set higher. If we go to the playoffs for 3 more years, and keep losing, are you saying Arthur shouldn't be considering making a change? (cue the Cowher/Schottenheimer rebuttal here)
Lets ponder this: lets say we miss the playoffs this year, make it next year and lose in January, and then the next season we miss the playoffs again..Well, the 'logical' excuse is 'look at how far Mike Smith has taken this team', blah blah blah. But froma businessmans standpoint, that is not good enough. It may not be 'fair' but it's 'business'.
And guess what will happen when you make that "good" business
decision, you're going to hire a Jim Mora-level coach that isn't going to get more out of this football team, and it's going to reveal just how average the talent level of this team really is. And as you're "smart business" is now an 8-8 and 9-7 team that gets bounced annually from the playoffs in the same manner as they did in 2011 vs. the Giants, had you made a good football decision
, you'd know to keep the coach and hope the GM can build up the rest of the team in the coming years.
It's unfathomable to me fun gus that if the Falcons lose to the Seahawks with a team that is Bottom 5 in both run offense and run defense, Bottom 10 pass rush, Bottom 15 OL, Bottom 5 explosive plays, and you think the blame rests at Mike Smith's feet against a team that is Top 5 or 10 in at least 4 out of those 5 areas.
It's laughably sad that you think Mike Smith is the problem, when the Seahawks are SIGNIFICANTLY better and by significant I mean LIGHT YEARS better at 80% of the things that make teams good or great.
But that's how you run a business. And that's why there's only a handful of football organizations that have won titles over the past decade. Because those are organizations that understand good football decision making vs. good business decision making.