What’s Bugging You?

Each week, in conjunction with Breda Pest Management, we’ll ask “What’s bugging you?” in the world of sports. The first two weeks went very well, and with the majority of the local teams winning this past week, it’s tough to imagine a lot of angst. But we know there’s displeasure out there; keep those rants headed our way – like Truman, Usersname and Mr. Ed – and we’ll continue to work with you on these issues. It’s like therapy without the uncomfortable couch.

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.

Truman,

After that game in Oakland? Still with the Kyle Shanahan hate? What does the man have to do to catch a break with Falcons fans?

Last season Shanahan morphed into persona non grata around Atlanta with the way the Falcons’ offense sputtered at times, the way Matt Ryan struggled after many years of success and the phasing out of wide receiver Roddy White. Were all those problems Shanahan’s fault? No, but he’s the offensive coordinator and his name’s way up on the team hierarchy.

White’s gone – and he hasn’t been signed anywhere in the NFL, for what it’s worth – and Ryan said he and Shanahan had mended fences from last season and were absolutely on the same page with the offense. Want proof of that?

The Falcons churned 528 yards of total offense in a hostile Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum versus the Raiders on Sunday. They sit in second place in the NFL with 902 total yards (451 yards per game). No team in the league has thrown for more than Atlanta’s 711 yards, and with 59 points the Falcons rank sixth in the league.

Ryan’s listed as the second-ranked quarterback in the NFL at 730 yards through the air, only two yards behind front-runner Andy Dalton. At 10 yards per attempt, Ryan ranks No. 1 as the league’s most efficient passer.

The offense is scoring points and Ryan is producing stellar numbers. Now that the offense is humming, why isn’t Shanahan getting some love? If he was the reason why things were going bad last season, shouldn’t he be the reason why offensive numbers are trending upward now?

Usersname,

Yeah, this is a legit gripe.

The Falcons finished dead last in the NFL last season with 19 sacks. To put that number into perspective, J.J. Watt had 17 ½ sacks last year by himself. Khalil Mack was four sacks behind the Falcons team at 15. There were 16 teams last season that amassed double the Falcons 19 sacks with Denver leading the league at 52.

What did the Falcons do in the draft to help fix this issue? Nothing. What about free agency? Derrick Shelby was added to help, but he hasn’t produced sack numbers yet. Dwight Freeney was brought in during camp, but he’s still getting his feet wet with the Falcons too.

Atlanta, through two games of the 2016 season, has produced one sack; Vic Beasley was credited with it because he was closest to Oakland quarterback Derek Carr when he was chased out of bounds. Technically it was a sack, but it wasn’t pretty.

At one sack in two games, the Falcons are on pace to finish the season with only eight sacks. That kind of ineffectiveness likely won’t happen. But this defense hasn’t shown the ability to rise in the ranks in terms of getting after the opposing quarterback.

Mr. Ed,

You’re absolutely right about your Georgia Southern Eagles. That’s a talented and historically strong football program – six FCS national titles — that doesn’t get mentioned enough. I have a few ideas why:

First, there’s the whole FCS problem. Football programs, no matter how good or where they’re located, in the lower levels of college football face an uphill battle when it comes to coverage at the regional and national levels. Fair or not, that’s just the way it is. Joining the Sunbelt (and the FBS) recently will help, but it may take some time. There’s a reason why Tim Tebow trying to play baseball, anything Nick Saban and Alabama or the NFL as a whole gets the lion’s share of air time… ratings.

Another reason might be Georgia Southern’s offensive style. A team that has run the ball 203 times this season and only thrown it 42 times seems less appealing that a gun-slinging offense that can churn yardage through the air at will. And then there are the issues at running back.

Neither Wesley Fields nor Matt Breida have notched a 100-yard rushing game this season after running backs accumulated nine last season. Their per-rush average is strong, but quarterbacks Favian Upshaw and Kevin Ellison seem to be taking work away from the running backs.

It’s not always right, but fans like numbers, big stats, explosive plays and tend to lean that way versus 3-0 teams that win without a ton of flash. That’s one of the warts spoiling Georgia State’s complexion right now.

That said, if the Eagles make it to six, seven maybe eight wins without a loss, then winning ugly starts to mean something. People tend to forget about the ugly portion of the equation at that point.

More from Knox Bardeen
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