After reaching the NFC Championship game last season, no one imagined the Atlanta Falcons would open the 2013 season with a 1-4 record, far away from any hope and talk about being Super Bowl contenders.
Over the last 23 seasons, 118 NFL teams started the year with a 1-4 record. Only six of them managed to make it into the playoffs, but considering how bad the Falcons are falling, it’s more about just getting a win and stopping the slide, and talking about the postseason shouldn’t even be mentioned.
A lot of their losses early on in the season – to the Saints, the Patriots and the Dolphins, can be put under the excuse of a tough schedule. All of them were in close games. But losing to the Jets, as they allow Geno Smith to march them down the field and put Nick Folk in a position to win the game as time expires? The Falcons dug themselves too big of a hole, coming back from 14-27 down to score touchdowns on two consecutive drives, but it was too late.
The Falcons have plenty of issues right now, which begins with the offensive line, as Matt Ryan wasn’t hard to reach. The Special teams gave up two very long returns and allowed a punt block. And there was once again the issue of play calling. Just before half time, with a second left on the clock, Mike Smith decided against going for a field goal, with the Falcons on the Jets’ 1-yard line. All of a sudden, Smith is no longer the conservative coach, but one who goes for it, and it failed. I’m one for taking the points that are there for you to take.
There’s obviously the issue of Steven Jackson and his hurt hamstring. The Falcons are 25th in the NFL averaging 78.4 rushing yards per game. They gained only 64 yards on the ground against the Jets, averaging 2.9 yards per carry. Matt Ryan needs someone to draw some attention from himself, because with all the passing talent he has to throw to, it doesn’t matter without solid protection and at least a hint of a running attack.
Some are wondering at this point where Tyson Clabo is, and why was he released. No one blamed the offensive line for not getting that touchdown at the end of the half, but that single play seemed to haunt the Falcons more than anything else, as the realization of their terrible season so far came to knock them over their heads.