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I don’t think anyone is shocked that the Patriots made the Super Bowl. What’s the point of even analyzing or critiquing them anymore?
Did any of us see the Falcons in the Super Bowl? I suspect not. Perhaps, you’re like me and predicted the Falcons for a losing record and constantly predicted their demise all season…and thought Dan Quinn would get fired during/after this season? You didn’t see it…and that’s cool. I didn’t see it…and that makes me bad at my job.
This week, in honor of the Falcons, I am reprinting all of their 2016 game recaps to embarrass myself more publicly. Laying myself naked before you. Also, I am going back through and reading to see if there were clues to what I was off on and to see what I was thinking going negative on the Falcons as a Super Bowl season was unfolding. It’s not the first time…I didn’t buy into the Panthers all last season either.
I am reprinting the Falcons 2016 season throughout the week and adding some extra commentary on how bad (or good) my commentary was at the time. In honor of the Falcons and to publicly flog myself this week, here we go…
*Original commentary from the day it was published in black text with my 2017 comments in green.
Bucs 31 Falcons 24…Atlanta (0-1)
I don’t even know what to say about this game. Two bottom tier NFL teams played, and one of them won. Tampa Bay is not awful – they have some talent, but the Falcons are a borderline joke. Their home opener, and they got pushed around by Tampa Bay. The Bucs just seemed to want this more. In Atlanta’s defense, the Bucs hit on some long, lucky plays. However, the Falcons had their chances despite all that and just couldn’t do it. This Falcons team has no emotion and no personality. The looks on Matt Ryan and Julio Jones’s faces during a game is like watching someone reading a book for four hours. Not thrilling.
It won’t be long – actually I’m seeing signs of it now – where the football analysts start turning on Dan Quinn. I’m not sure he’s going to make it through this entire season without getting fired. Matt Ryan is not helping him at all. Quinn is up for Coach of the Year, and Matt Ryan is going to undeservedly win the MVP…so this prediction was a little off.
— So Jameis Winston (23-33 for 281 yards, 4 TD/1 INT) threw for four TDs, and the media went wild with the guy they’ve been proclaiming great for years. You can hardly get a fair and balanced analysis of the guys the media loves, so when I take an opposite stance sometimes I sound like a fool. So be it…
Winston wasn’t horrible in this game. He certainly played with more enthusiasm, and more purpose and effort than Matt Ryan (27-39 for 334 yards, 2 TD/0 INT). I’ll give him that. I’ll also grant that Winston just keeps firing…no matter how bad the pass was prior. Winston has no conscience…whereas Ryan seems like he is thinking too much on every throw now.
Let me just note that Winston’s last two TD passes, were highlight reel…by the receivers. In most cases those passes are not completed, and are somewhat ill-advised. His long TDs to Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Mike Evans were near-Hail Marys – tightly covered plays with the receivers catching the pass diving/falling to the ground and holding on. They were almost like a golfer shooting a hole-in-one twice in one round. I acknowledge that Mike Evans is a miracle worker, but his TD catch was stunning…I still don’t know how it got past the defenders swiping at it. If those low-probability catches don’t happen, then Winston is closer to 200 yards passing in a loss. I tip the cap…Winston’s the QB, and he gets the credit, but what I never see with Winston is a meticulous drive down the field. All I get is dump passes, wild overthrows on medium throws, or miracles heaved deep. Hey, if it works…who am I to criticize?
I will add this – again, this is another game where Jameis faces no pass rush. Atlanta should just forgo rushing the passer and put 11 DBs on the field. Is there like a city ordinance against them ever pressuring a QB this decade? The Falcons continued their non-sack ways for the first quarter of the season or so…and then Vic Beasley came alive and suddenly the Falcons defense came to life. I give Dan Quinn a bunch of credit — this defense was young and it lost its top corner late in the season, and still got to the Super Bowl. It makes you start to wonder — if Dan Quinn is a great defensive mind and if Seattle’s defense has slowly been falling apart without him (Quinn was a big part of the Seattle defense during the Super Bowl runs)…was Quinn a bigger part of Seattle than we recognized, and is Pete Carroll an overrated/lucky/bad coach who fortuitously had Quinn for a while?
Winston has had the most stunning bout of luck with scheduling I’ve ever seen, but it’s all about to crash to an end. ARI-LAR-DEN in the next three weeks (this came true…even analysts started turning on him at that point). If he survives/thrives the next three weeks, I will formally apologize for all my anti-Winston ways. Winston will not have all day to sit in the pocket and let receivers race 30+ yards downfield and then throw it up for grabs against ARI-LAR-DEN. The Atlanta Falcons are a joke on defense because they don’t seem to get close to the passer…ever. Their DBs have no chance. Zero sacks in this game for ATL. Last year Atlanta had the fewest sacks in the league – 19. The Jets had 7.0 sacks in Week 1. Atlanta will reach 7 sacks for the season around Thanksgiving.
After this game, Winston would go on to have 24 TDs/17 INTs on the season. Not great in this era of every young QB producing.
Take away his best game of 2016 and 2015 (vs. PHI), and Winston has thrown 41 TDs/32 INTs in 30 games…1.4 TDs/1.1 INTs per game.
— Tevin Coleman (8 carries for 22 yards, 5 rec. for 95 yards on 6 targets) blew me away as a pass-catcher in this game. It’s not just that he had more targets, catches, and yards than Devonta Freeman (11 carries for 20 yards, 4 rec. for 20 yards on 4 targets), but it’s the way he caught the ball. He made some outstanding catches on balls thrown way off target…caught them and got upfield in a hurry. I hope every NFL analyst that has proclaimed Freeman as a franchise RB will come out and apologize for being ‘way off’ when Coleman is the lead back with the main share of the work by midseason. I’m looking at Brian Billick specifically…who proclaimed Freeman as the second-best RB under 25 years old in the NFL last year. David Johnson was not on his list. But Billick probably makes $200–300K+ a year analyzing football for you, I imagine. I’m not bitter.
I saw where Devonta’s agent is boasting that he wants him to make front line RB money. The Falcons would be out of their minds…
Freeman is OK, but Atlanta wouldn’t miss a beat without him…I’d argue they’d be better with more Coleman.
— I thought Tevin Coleman looked great, but do you know who the single best-looking player on the field for either team was? Not Julio Jones (4 rec. for 66 yards and 1 TD on 8 targets). Quiet…you might wake him up on Sundays between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., when he likes to take naps and sleepwalk around NFL stadiums. No, it was Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander (17 tackles, 15 solo, 1 sack, 2 TFLs). That guy is everywhere. He’s my favorite to lead the NFL in tackles this year, based on one week of observation.
Alexander would go on to finish #4 in tackles this season (145…22 behind Bobby Wagner for #1), but Kwon did lead the NFL in solo tackles with 108. Alexander is quietly putting up ‘best in class’ ILB numbers in IDP in his last 20+ games.
…I kid Julio Jones. I know he’s a special talent – that’s why I am aggravated. He should be doubling his output.
6 TDs in the 2016 regular season. Yayyyy!! Am I aloud to criticize Julio or is there a federal ordance?
— Mohamed Sanu (5 rec. for 80 yards and 1 TD on 8 targets) looked pretty solid in this game. Note – #2 WRs don’t fare well in Atlanta, for fantasy. And 59 of his 80 yards came on a busted coverage play where he was wide open. I wouldn’t get too excited yet.
59 catches for 653 yards and 4 TDs for Sanu in 2016 on the greatest offense in the NFL…really?
— Near-Miss TDs I noted: one each for Adam Humphries, Mike Evans, and Jacob Tamme.
59 catches for 653 yards and 4 TDs for Sanu in 2016
55 catches for 622 yards and 2 TDs for Humphries in 2016
— After this opening day loss, I was confident the Falcons would not have a winning record this season. Atlanta was about to go on a four-game win streak and go 11-4 over their final 15 regular season games. —
Snap counts of interest:
25 = Cameron Brate
18 = Austin Seferian-Jenkins
8 = Paul Worrilow