The Atlanta Falcons Are Still Suffering From Their Super Bowl Hangover
An optimist might point to the fact that the Atlanta Falcons currently have a 3-3 record, and are only one game back of the New Orleans Saints for the NFC South lead (the two teams have yet to play each other). But a realist will likely point to the fact that the Falcons have lost three straight games, and are only two plays away from having a 1-5 record.
The bottom line is: the Atlanta Falcons have exactly one signature win this season, when they opened up Mercedes-Benz stadium with a thorough beating of the Green Bay Packers. But that win was sandwiched by a win they were handed when Jordan Howard of the Bears dropped what would’ve been the game-winning touchdown pass at the one-yard line, and when Golden Tate of the Detroit Lions appeared to score a game-winning touchdown as time expired, only to have the call reversed.
In their current three-game losing streak, the Falcons blew a second-half lead to the Buffalo Bills, and 17-0 second half lead to the Miami Dolphins, and were nearly shut out against the New England Patriots, if not for a “garbage time” touchdown by wide receiver Julio Jones, when the Falcons were already down 23-0.
This team is a far cry from the one that represented the NFC in the Super Bowl last year. The dropoff the offense has endured from Kyle Shanahan running things last year to Steve Sarkisian running this year is staggering, even if the overall statistics don’t say so. The defense of the New England Patriots, which allowed six straight quarterbacks to throw for more than 300 yards against them (the only time in NFL history that had ever happened), stifled the reigning league MVP Matt Ryan to a season-low 233 yards passing. Ryan has thrown multiple touchdown passes in only one of the Falcons sxi games this year, and has only one game with 300+ yards passing; last year, he had multiple touchdown passes in five of the Falcons first six games, and 300+ yards passing in four of those six games.
Superstar wide receiver Julio Jones only has one game with 100+ receiving yards this season, and didn’t record a single touchdown catch this season until this past weekend. Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman has less than 75 yards rushing in four of the Falcons six games this year, and hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown since October 1st.
The defense is good, but not good enough to where it can shut down opposing offenses and pick up the slack for their own struggling offense. On Sunday evening, the Falcons spent much of the game hoping they could drop a bunch of guys back in coverage and get enough pressure on Tom Brady with just their front four. That plan failed miserably; Brady went 17-of-23 with two touchdowns when the Falcons sent four or fewer pass rushers.
Atlanta plays three of its next five games on the road, and their two home games are against the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If they’re not careful, their season could be over by Thanksgiving weekend.