No sense in a big breakdown of this ‘contest’. Atlanta led 21–0 at the half, and 42–0 after three quarters. I would normally go into a whole Jeff Fisher standup routine here, but as I started writing this – news hit that Fisher had been fired, finally. I’m shocked, but not shocked. When news of the hidden contract extension first hit last week, I was outraged, but then realized it was still pretty simple for the Rams ownership to pull the plug. Essentially, the Rams gave Fisher an official golden parachute before pulling the plug. I’m not going to express anything further on Fisher. Good riddance.
The Falcons handled their business, and now have a real shot at winning out the rest of the way versus SF-CAR-NO. All teams that have ‘given up’, essentially. The Falcons are going to hit at least 10 wins and get into the playoffs. Most likely as the NFC South division winners. They have an outside chance at being a #2 seed with a bye if they win out.
The big news from this game, for fantasy, is the firing of Jeff Fisher and the impact it will have for the Rams the remainder of the season, and long-term. We’ll discuss that last. Just a few notes from this game before that…
— Devonta Freeman (6-6-0) started this game, per usual, and was off to a slow start. Tevin Coleman (8-36-1, 2-19-1/3 targets) came in and caught a TD pass and later ran for a score. Freeman played one more snap than Coleman, but I’m not sure why the quiet Devonta game. I assume it was because the Falcons were toying with the Rams, and the team was taking the opportunity to scale back Freeman for a rest of sorts.
This shows you what the team/coaches think of Freeman versus Coleman. They prefer Freeman. It’s what will cost them in the playoffs. Two things will cause a Falcons loss in the playoffs: (1) Matt Ryan forcing passes to Julio with him double/triple-covered, and (2) too much Freeman when Coleman is the most explosive option. Coleman has much more probability to break plays for long gains, but he gets half the touches Freeman does normally. Poor ‘card playing’ by Atlanta’s coaches.
— Taylor Gabriel (3-82-1/6 targets) caught a 64-yard TD to salvage a slow game otherwise. Gabriel was second among Falcons’ WRs in snaps in this game, and yet saw just 3 catches and a carry. I will chalk it up to the same vibe as the Freeman ‘sit’. The Falcons got up huge and it was a joke…why tip your hand showing off the cool plays you have drawn up for Gabriel?
— Vic Beasley (3 tackles, 3.0 sacks) was one of our highest-rated prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft (along with everyone else). They don’t make humans like Beasley. He is almost a science lab perfect creation of a rush DE. That’s why I was surprised he struggled so as a rookie. However, he’s making up for lost time this season – 13.5 sacks and 6 forced fumbles on the season this year. Why isn’t anyone mentioning him for Defensive Player of the Year?
Honestly, I watch him getting these sacks this season, and I still don’t see pure domination. I see ‘good’ mixed with a lot of chasing a flushed QB or having them run towards/into Beasley in a muddy pocket.
— The Falcons DST had a field day with the Rams with two defensive TDs in the game. I think the Atlanta DST can still be relied upon Weeks 15–16 with games against Colin Kaepernick and then Cam Newton.
— OK, the non-Fisher–as-coach effect ahead…
Jeff Fisher was the most predictable head coach in the NFL. Teams felt comfortable stacking the box against Fisher’s offense because Fisher would call running plays into it and most of his passing plays were short/predictable as well. Teams dared the Rams to go medium-to-deep, Fisher wanted to prove he could do old school ‘run over you’ style…to his own detriment for years.
With a new head coach comes something opposing coaching staffs hate – unpredictability. There is no book on John Fassel. Playing against Jeff Fisher was like playing poker with a person who kept all their cards face up on the table. Opponents knew everything Fisher was thinking or about to do. Now, they don’t know. Once the offense becomes less predictable everything will open up for the key offensive players.
I don’t love Todd Gurley (16-61-1, 3-22-0/4 targets) at Seattle this week, but I’m now intrigued at least. I also LOVE Gurley in Week 16 versus the 49ers. I don’t like Jared Goff (24-41 for 235 yards, 0 TD/2 INT) versus Seattle, but could see him doing well Week 16 hosting the 49ers.
Todd Gurley is arguably the best running back talent in the NFL, in terms of running the ball. David Johnson is the best all-around RB talent, but Gurley is maybe the best taking a handoff…but DJ is pretty damn sweet at it too. When Gurley gets freed from his Fisher-shackles he might go from guy you forgot about to multiple 150+ yard rushing games in an instant. You wish you had gotten Ezekiel Elliott — Gurley is going to be better to have someday.
I said the best time to buy Gurley in Dynasty was after the Fisher contract extension news hit. That window is now closed with the Fisher firing. The price is much higher today, but probably still reasonable for what’s about to happen. I’d try to act fast before he pops versus Seattle or San Francisco and drives the price even higher.
Similarly, Jared Goff now has a brighter future…maybe…
Reiterating my scouting position on Goff – I think he has some Brady-like characteristics. My highest-graded QB prospect from the 2016 NFL Draft. I’m not going to get too excited until I see the new coaching staff coming in. You might assume that the Rams will hire a coach that fits Goff. Be careful with assuming that.
a) You are trusting an organization that just authored and fostered the Jeff Fisher nightmare for years. Them doing something stupid is more likely than not…amiright?
b) Dumb ownership + GM have a dilemma. They possess an elite RB and a franchise QB they traded their future to get…which side of that coin do you think they’ll build around? Let me dial it in more – do you think the new or old GM + dumb ownership will build around the RB who was Rookie of the Year 2015 and is in TV commercials and who everyone from all football circles adores…or build around the QB who 92% of football people are mocking, trying to paint as their new Andy Dalton whipping boy?
The Rams could bring in a ‘run game guy’, and then Goff is working with a coach from the 1970–2000s school of football. What are you going to do when you see Norv Turner come walking through that door?
I’m hopeful for Goff, but I’ll pause on making any rash moves for him right now. The media does not like Goff, so his value won’t go up much until he explodes on the field. Gurley’s value barely dipped through the drought and is already popping on the news. Gurley is going to be ‘the man’ no matter who the coach is. Goff…we have to wait and see.