Each week, in conjunction with Breda Pest Management, we’ll ask “What’s bugging you?” in the world of sports. Week 1 went very well, but there’s still lots of strife out there. Keep those rants headed our way – like ShopTalkPod, Kevin and Jay – and we’ll continue to talk you off the ledge, or join you in a surrender cobra of frustration.
So, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #WhatsBuggingYou. We’re easy to find and always thought-provoking. And because we’re partnering with the fine folks over at Breda Pest Management, it’s obvious we’ll be able to find a remedy for what’s pestering you.
Not only was the atmosphere charged in the Georgia Dome last Sunday because it was Week 1 of the regular season, and face it, we’d waited for the NFL to return seemingly forever. But two former coaches we’re walking back into the building.
New Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter was the offensive coordinator here from 2012-2014. Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Mike Smith was head coach of the Falcons from 2008-2014, and he’s the winningest head coach in Atlanta history.
There were emotions flowing that day, that’s for sure… and I absolutely feel your frustration.
However, just because Dan Quinn is a defensive-minded head coach, that doesn’t mean he’s immediately going to be able to establish a top-tier defense on the field. It takes time to rebuild a unit like that, especially one that was severely lacking as Atlanta’s was.
Give Quinn a few years to rebuild this Atlanta defense in the way he needs it to work. Let him have a few drafts and free-agent periods and then we’ll see if he can stop opposing coaches from coming into Atlanta and running roughshod.
I’ll give you something that should bug you. While he was here – and to a certain extent Koetter too – Smith was often criticized for his lack of in-game or halftime adjustments. But he sure made some stellar moves in Week 1 against the Falcons, didn’t he?
Makes you think, huh?
Welcome to party, sir. Just about every sports-radio pundit, writer and TV personality in the area has lamented about the quarterback controversy in Athens for months. The conversation isn’t new.
But to your point, it’s one matter to spend the offseason without an answer. It’s another, entirely, to head into Week 3 of the regular season with similar questions.
At least the Dawgs aren’t pondering the decision between three quarterbacks, right?
Did that help?
As felt every time Jacob Eason enters a game for the first time and the crowd erupts, the Georgia fan base wants the freshman under center. He’s a five-star harbinger of hope for the future of football in Athens. National championships are coming now that Eason’s in town, at least that’s the mentality.
And even though Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora said after UGA came from behind to beat his North Carolina team that Georgia’s offense ran more efficiently when Eason was in the game, he hasn’t done enough to make Kirby Smart and his staff feel comfortable naming him the outright starter.
Eason’s numbers, just like his time on the field, show signs of future glory but a learning curve most freshmen endure. While he hasn’t completed 60 percent of his passes this season, he leads the Southeastern Conference with a 10.5 yards-per-attempt average. Even though he’s not afraid to take a shot down the field, he’s made some bone-headed decisions while offering just the right amount of moxie.
Smart’s decision to stick with two quarterbacks feels less like gamesmanship now and more like he’s waiting for one of the duo to grab the reigns of the starting job and charge ahead with Georgia’s offense. There’s little doubt Eason will eventually be that guy, but there’s still no guarantee it’ll be this season.
Remember, Smart’s still trying to win football games. He couldn’t care less about making his quarterback depth chart, or the media for that matter, happy.
Any time an athlete melts down a bit and costs a team points on the scoreboard, it’s a problem. It’s especially discouraging when it’s a veteran player.
Robert Alford’s unnecessary roughness penalty moved the Falcons out of field-goal range versus the Bucs. Now, the game was decided by more than three points, so you may say that it really didn’t matter, but it did. There’s no telling how the “feel” of the game would have changed if Atlanta had put those points on the board.
Even more disappointing than Alford’s blunder were all the procedural penalties. When the Falcons move in reverse because the offense can’t figure out the snap count or gets too jumpy before the snap, it makes coaches (and apparently yours too) skin crawl. Quinn has promised those issues will be cleaned up.
I believe the Falcons can easily fix the discipline issues. The inconsistent play will be harder to turn around.
How interesting was it to see Mohamed Sanu’s 5-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter versus Tampa Bay. Not only was the red-zone touchdown refreshing, but the play call was too. Julio Jones’ 25-yard touchdown grab was preceded by stimulating, situational play-calling as the drive moved toward the end zone.
But there were too many times when this “new” version of the offense looked similarly eerie to last season’s.
With time, Atlanta’s offense will be more efficient and explosive. Matt Ryan has two capable rushers, both of which can catch passes out of the backfield. The Falcons also now sport two pass-catching tight ends and two top receivers to move the ball down the field. Add in Justin Hardy and Aldrick Robinson and soon Kyle Shanahan’s offense could look electric.
But it won’t happen overnight, and I know how that’s bugs a lot of you out there too.