So the Atlanta Falcons are 1-3, sitting in third place, with a Monday Night Football Game at home against the 2-2 New York Jets…..needless to say, the stakes are VERY high! As a fan, I have optimism towards this season, but as an analyst I know that the “Dirty Birds” better win and better win now in order to accomplish preseason goals. The Jets come to the Georgia Dome offensively bringing a rookie quarterback in Geno Smith but Santonio Holmes, starting wide receiver is out for this game. Kellen Winslow, Jr is having a good season at tight end, essentially bailing out Smith who has thrown eight interceptions. In the run game, Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory are heady runners who do not give you a lot of flash but are solid, especially Ivory who torched the Falcons during his tenure with the New Orleans Saints. Defensively for the Jets, they bring a formidable front seven with Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson manning the interior in this Rex Ryan 3-4 set. On the back half you have a great corner in Antonio Cromartie and opposite him will probably be Kyle Wilson because Dee Milliner will be out for this game. Despite national perception of this New York Jets Team and rightfully so, this team is 2-2.
For the Atlanta Falcons it is the case of different day, same story. The injuries have mounted for this team, varying the script slightly in personnel. The “Red Zone” woes have also reared its ugly head with the Falcons being “Tarzan” from 20 to 20 but looking more like “Jane” inside of the 20, kicking more field goals than scoring touchdowns. Also, poor tackling has severely impacted the Falcon defense, essentially extending drives for the opposition. The offensive line and lack of pass rush issues are continuous problems for the Falcons but despite the many issues they have scored first in every game and are in every contest until the very end but cannot seem to close the deal; the polar opposite of what they have done in the past. The Falcons must protect Matt Ryan this game because of the Rex Ryan philosophy of getting to the passer, just ask Jake Locker of the Tennessee Titans. If they can give Ryan enough time to distribute the football, I believe that the back half of the defense for the Jets is vulnerable to the deep pass and Tony Gonzalez working underneath. Defensively for the Falcons the key will be stopping the run and making Geno Smith beat you with his arm. As a rookie quarterback, Smith is turnover prone and may give opportunities for Atlanta to score defensively. I believe the Falcons will stop the losing streak and win in a close ball game primarily because of the Jets pass rushing scheme and may finally start to right the ship.
Jamie Walker is a Producer and Atlanta Falcons Blogger for Sports Radio 92.9 The Game. You can follow him on Twitter at @coachjdub21 or on Facebook at J. Walker Sports Media Services.