FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on in the first half against the Baltimore Ravens during the 2010 AFC wild-card playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Atlanta, GA- The now 1-3 Atlanta Falcons have quite a hole to dig out of after losing 30-23 to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Sunday night.
After attempting to mount a fourth quarter comeback the Falcons once again fell short while in a position to at least send the game into overtime. The final failed drive came in an all too familiar place, the redzone. These 20 yards of turf and grass has become a deathtrap for the Falcons this year.
Tony Gonzalez caught 12 passes for a career high 149 yards. He also wrangled in two touchdowns. (Photo Credit: AtlantaFalcons.com)
The missing piece
According to the Team Rankings website, the Falcons are rated 29th in the NFL in terms of redzone offense efficiency, scoring touchdowns only 38.89% of the time they had been inside the 20-yard-line. This might have been fine with the fans only if there were more big plays that resulted in actual touchdowns and not just chunks of yardage. While exciting it does nothing to the scoreboard.
So while the offense is stalling the question is, to score or not to score? While the answer seems obvious, more points equals wins, the other factor not being considered is the defense. Every game the Falcons have played thus far has been close. The offense has not made any boneheaded turnovers that make fans slap their own face and most offensive drives give the defense some time to rest.
Defending the lead has been one the problems, in fact it’s been the main problem. With the offense running out of fuel in three of the four games so far, I expect the defense to produce more turnovers until the Falcons can find four quarters of rhythm.
Unfortunately, this task may be asking a bit much. In my opinion, if the defense can prevent any NFL team from scoring less than 28 points then the offense should be able to win every game. Three out of four times the offense did in fact win the game, the opponent’s offense.
The luck of the draw
Atlanta fans must ask themselves, how many times have the Falcons achieved a game winning drive or completed a fourth quarter comeback last year. Seven, with six of those wins being determined less than six points. This stat alone speaks volumes about the team. Not much has changed in Atlanta except now the team is experiencing what happens when the coin lands on the other side. Scott Kacsmar has done extensive research on this topic and he has determined that Matt Ryan has accrued 16 fourth quarter comebacks and 23 game winning drives. If you ask me, that’s a lot riding on chance.
Don’t get me wrong, the Falcons are still a playoff caliber team. All the talent is there, but no matter how much talent you have you cannot let teams hang around within a touchdown of actually beating you. The prime example of this is the Jacoby Jones catch that sent the Ravens to the Super Bowl, and the better team in the Denver Broncos home to their families.
It’s time for something drastic to happen now. The coaching staff has seemingly made all the right moves but it’s still not enough. With injuries pilling up and the guilt I feel every time I see Tony Gonzalez being interviewed, Atlanta needs to possibly make another free agency splash. If not that then a possible trade, even though I hate to see Falcons leave this year was Super Bowl or bust. At this point the organization owes it to the fans and to Gonzalez to make this happen.