Hard to ignore how much better the Falcons offense is at home
Once again, the Falcons looked like the greatest show on turf at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. This time it was under a bright Atlanta sky with the roof open for the first time. Matt Ryan turned in another MVP-like performance, and Steve Sarkisian was able to create favorable matchups all afternoon against a Bucs defense that continues to struggle.
As usual, Jones led the way with 143 yards receiving, but it was an all-around performance that saw eight different receivers catch passes. Some of that had to with the fact that both Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu exited the game with injuries. That didn’t stop the Falcons from putting up 34 points, which is actually below their home average of 34.7 points per game.
Meanwhile, the road has been a totally different story. A week one hiccup against a tough defense in Philadelphia is one thing, but the Falcons looked just as miserable on offense in their week 5 matchup at Pittsburgh. To put it nicely, the Steelers defense is sub-par. With six of their final nine games of the season away from home, Atlanta needs to find a way to translate their offensive success at home to the road.
I love me some Ito Smith
Don’t get me wrong, Devonta Freeman has earned my support and many of the Falcons faithful over his fantastic career thus far, and he deserved every bit of the contract extension he received. However, Ito Smith is serving as a reminder to why teams are so wary about extending running backs, regardless of how productive they have been.
It doesn’t help Freeman’s cause that he has battled injuries the last couple of seasons, but the Falcons haven’t missed a beat with Smith on the field as Coleman’s backup. For the third straight week, Smith reached the end zone on Sunday.
Atlanta surprised the world with their fourth-round selection of the running back out of Southern Mississippi. Many draft analysts gave Smith a 6th round grade at best, while others had him projected as an undrafted free agent. It just goes to show you the amount of talent available at the position at all levels and has to have the organization questioning the large extension they handed to Freeman.
It’s time to turn the TV off when the Falcons are on defense
Admittedly, I have yet to try this tactic, but it can’t be nearly as bad as sitting here and watching Atlanta “attempt to stop” opposing offenses. After being shredded for four consecutive weeks, you would think the Falcons might have had something up their sleeve for the Bucs in a must-win game, but absolutely nothing looked different.
Atlanta was gashed for big plays all afternoon, as Tampa Bay racked up 512 yards of offense. In reality, the Falcons were bailed out by a couple of key turnovers that cost them points or the Bucs would have become the latest team to stun the Falcons in their own building. With the Wild Card spots beginning to look more and more up for grabs in the NFC, let’s just hope the offense can continue to carry this team until Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones can return. Until then, I don’t blame anyone for changing the channel or heading to the concession stand when the defense takes the field.