Bye Week Blues

Okay, so we have the pleasure and pain of not seeing the Falcons play this weekend. Pleasure, because yours and my sanity couldn’t stand another loss. And the pain because of course despite their ineptitude, they are still our beloved Falcons.

Hopefully the team can regroup after the bye. I pray that Petrino will come to his senses and at least try to feature Norwood in this offense against the 49ers. Put him in the backfield, line him up in the slot, play him on returns. Norwood has just as much capability to be our version of Reggie Bush or Brian Westbrook as the next guy. But the only way that can happen is if Petrino tries it. The Era of Warrick Dunn is over, everyone knows this. Everyone except one person: Bobby Petrino.

Under Dan Reeves, the Falcons were terrible following the bye week. The only team Reeves ever won a game following the bye was his first season, in which we beat the Saints to get our first win of the season. But over the next six seasons, we lost every post-bye week game. Until Jim Mora came to town, and we played well the week after the bye in both 2004 and 2005. We lost last year to the Giants, had two good games following that and basically the bottom dropped out.

Traditionally the bye week is seen as an unfair advantage for one team, as they get an extra week to prepare. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve heard that statistically-speaking, the edge a team gains coming off a bye is relatively insignificant. And that does make some sense. Really, coaches don’t really get an extra week to prepare, because they usually let all of the guys off for the bye week. So in the end, it usually only amounts to perhaps one or two days. And as I’m sure old Danny Boy would say, it’s less about the gameplans the coaches devise, and more about the execution of said gameplans by the players.

But the bye week comes at a relatively auspicious time for the Falcons. We have two key players injured in Byron Leftwich and Todd Weiner. Weiner may be able to come back vs. the 49ers, which should keep Quinn Ojinnaka out of the lineup. Leftwich won’t play against the 49ers, but if we get lucky that might be the only game he misses.

The best thing I can hope for now this year is a quarterback controversy on this team. Because that means that under Joey Harrington, the Falcons may win the next two games, so that if/when Leftwich is ready to come back vs. Tampa Bay, Petrino may actually have to think about benching him. I could care less who actual starts the game at quarterback, I just care about winning.

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Aaron Freeman
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