We all knew it was going to happen at some point… there was no way humanly possible the Falcons were going to run the table and go undefeated in 2015. The Birds were bound to lose a game at some point, and… let’s all be honest with each other… are we stunned that the first defeat came in the House of Horrors known as the Louisiana Superdome?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.READ MORE: BeREGGAE Music and Arts Festival brings entertainment, healing to the community
So, what stuck out from the 31-21 loss to the Saints?
1) First and foremost, despite getting beat, the Falcons are 5-1 on the season. When the schedule came out, it was pretty much agreed around FalconNation that the first half looked to be difficult and that 3-3 would be a pretty good record when all was said and done. But the Falcons are 5-1. Could they be 3-3, or 2-4 or 1-5? Yes, they could. But they are not.
2) One of the biggest reasons why the Falcons ARE 5-1 is because of DeVonte Freeman. He continued to show he’s no flash in the pan on Thursday night, as Freeman went for 100 yards on the ground, 53 yards receiving and scoring two more touchdowns. Freeman has singlehandedly provided balance to an Atlanta offense that not too long ago was as one dimensional and predictable as any in the NFL. As Tevin Coleman continues to work himself back into form following a broken rib, those two are going to be a great 1-2 ground and pound punch. The only thing they have to do is hold on to the football. Which leads us to…
3) You can’t turn the ball over four times – twice in the red zone – and expect to beat anyone in the NFL. Especially on the road and in a divisional game. The Falcons were a plus-5 in turnover ratio heading into Thursday night’s game in The Big Easy… and then went completely in the other direction. Part of the reason why the Birds got to 5-0 and were 4th quarter comeback winners four times was because they took care of the football and forced the opposition to give it up. They got a dose of their own medicine in New Orleans — one of the voodoo variety — and it didn’t taste too appetizing.READ MORE: Mar-a-Lago search warrant released, reveals FBI seized top-secret classified documents
4) Committing turnovers is one recipe for disaster in the NFL… failing to convert on third down is another. And the Falcons were lousy in that area Thursday night. Just 3-for-12 in that department, in fact, and their failure to keep the chains moving early in the third quarter when they only trailed 14-7 was what really allowed the game to get away in the Saints favor. The Falcons first possession of the second half was a six play drive that garnered all of 16 yards, and after New Orleans hit on a field goal for a 10-point cushion, Atlanta went three and out on their next possession, and the Saints subsequently matched right back down the field for a touchdown that put the Birds in a 17-point hole they couldn’t fight all the way back from.
5) The lack of a pass rush is nothing new, but after seeing possible glimpses of hope during part of the 5-0 start, the lack of pressure on the opposing quarterback the last couple of games is beginning to pose enormous problems for the Atlanta linebackers and defensive backs. It was bad enough watching Kirk Cousins sit back in the pocket and pick the Falcons apart last week (until someone actually got in his face and helped force the Pick-6 game-winning TD from Robert Alford). But according Drew Brees the same latitude is suicidal. There is no other reason to explain how a 34-year-old Ben Watson was allowed to roam the field at will and have himself a career game. Hmmm, and we thought our problems with Saints tight ends were over since Jimmy Graham now plays in Seattle.
So, 5-1 ain’t bad. With 10 days in between the next contest up in Nashville next Sunday vs. the Titans, it will be interesting to see how Dan Quinn responds to his first loss as a head coach. The key element that I’m going to be looking for is whether or not the Falcons come out of the gate strong… something they haven’t been able to accomplish in these past two games against the Redskins and Saints.
A return to what they did against the Texans would be a good sign. Jumping on Tennessee, building on it, and not allowing them to get back up. As The Mighty Quinn likes to say, “fast and physical.”MORE NEWS: Hands to Heal GA raising funds for program to help youth cope with stress, anxiety
Sounds to me like the perfect course for getting to 6-1.