Saturday, January 14, 2012

Atlanta Falcons' Season Ends

The Atlanta Falcons' season ended last Sunday with a 24-2 loss to the New York Giants in the wild card playoff game.  Atlanta finished the regular season 10-6, 2nd in their division behind the New Orleans Saints.  While a step back from last year's 13-3 season it was a good year but one that will still be looked at as dissapointing. 
Quarterback Matt Ryan had a good year throwing for over 4,000 yards connecting on 61% of his passes.  In doing so he threw for 29 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.  Running back Michael Turner ran well amassing over 1300 rushing yards (4.5 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns.  Tight end Tony Gonzalez had another good year with 80 passes while making the Pro Bowl.  Receivers Roddy White and rookie Julio Jones also had very good years.  White caught 100 passes for 1300 plus yards while Jones had 54 catches for a very good 17.8 yards per catch average.   The Falcons traded many draft picks for the rights to pick Jones and for now it looks good.  He definitely gives Atlanta a solid number two option downfield for Matt Ryan.  The offense overall was 7th in the NFL in scoring. 

The defense was 18th in points allowed and +8 in turnovers (5th overall).  John Abraham led the team with 9.5 sacks.  Thomas DeCoud led the team with 4 interceptions.  The defense was decent but isn't the most physical unit you've ever seen.  Their secondary was ok but was picked on by the better quarterbacks.  I like the defensive line and think if the secondary can be upgraded the team could see a different looking defense that could help this team to the next level. 

Watching this team it was obvious they were good.  It was also obvious they weren't as good as the league's elite teams.  They beat the teams they were supposed to with few exceptions but couldn't beat playoff teams New Orleans, Houston, and Green Bay.  It ended with the horrible loss to the Giants.  The offense looked pitiful and the coaching staff looked lost for answers. 

I don't think the team needs any big changes but maybe a change in attitude.  They have lost their lone playoff games in each of the past three seasons and I don't sense that this team has the mental toughness to overcome better teams.  Coach Mike Smith must figure this out.  He has done well with the Falcons but the fans, and I'm sure the owner, are getting restless.  So while a 10 and 6 season is normally a good season most will take this as one more season of Atlanta not moving forward or making progress.   If there isn't progress next year I can see ownership possibly looking at changing coaches.  I still think this year was good but like many others would like to see us make an actual run deep into the playoffs. I look forward to next year and the possibility of that playoff run I spoke of.  

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