An underwhelming performance for the offense. Granted, the Arizona Cardinals feature probably the best defense the Falcons will see all year long, and the fact that Julio Jones was not healthy all contribute to the poor performance. But the Falcons still managed to have opportunities in this game that they did not take advantage of.
I have to give the line some credit, as pressure was not a major issue in this game. Blalock had a few key blocks, and Turner had some nice runs, showing good power at times. By league standards, it was a mediocre game for the Falcons running the ball. But considering the struggles the Falcons have had this year, it was a good day by their standards. That’s how far things have fallen with the Falcons ground attack over the years.
As for Ryan’s interceptions, at least two came on instances where the Cardinals were able to blitz and get a free rusher to Ryan. I don’t really think you can blame the line for that, since that tends to be under the jurisdiction of the QB to make the proper adjustments. Other than a handful of bad throws, I thought Ryan played well otherwise.
Give the Cards some credit, they covered Gonzalez well. There were times where Ryan was looking for him and he was covered. Jones clearly was hurt and lacked explosion in his cuts. Douglas stepped up in the fourth quarter and made a number of big catches to help this team pull out the victory.
It also looked like McClure’s injury bothered him as he had a bad series on the opening drive of the third quarter (he was injured on the penultimate drive in the second quarter). I don’t know what that will mean for future games, but it certainly tells me that the injury was more severe than probably initially thought when he just managed to miss a single snap.
Defensively, Abe had a nice rebound game after a couple of lackluster weeks. For the record, Abe’s subpar games are good games by most of the Falcons defenders standards. But he did get the better of the poor Cardinal line, but he certainly was not dominant. Babineaux had another solid game, but his earnings probably suggest that he had a great game which he did not. He did not get credit for a forced fumble that Moore recovered that Mike Smith failed to challenge. But it’s still clear that Babs is significantly better than the other tackles on the team.
Samuel did not get credit for two PDs that the official stats say he got because they weren’t catchable passes. While he did deliver a hit on the receiver to suggest he helped break up the pass, in both instances the receiver wasn’t going to catch the ball anyway. McClain had a nice game as a sub for him, although he did get burned by Fitzgerald on what should have been an easy TD pass from Skelton. That missed throw on the wide open TD was what got Skelton benched, and I think if the Cardinals had a quasi-competent QB, that pass gets completed and the Falcons probably lose this game. Nicholas had a solid game. I did notice with Akeem Dent in this game, while he made a couple of good stops in the backfield and contributed on some delayed blitzes, he struggles against the inside run. As a pursuit player, he seems like he can do some things. But when it comes to being in the middle, diagnosing a run and coming downhill to make the stop, he struggles with. At least he did in this game. He was out of position on Stephens-Howling big 40-yard run early in the game, but then did a nice job making a stop in the backfield on the next play to make up for it. Watching a player like Daryl Washington on the opposite end of the spectrum, have an excellent game largely because of his ability to come downhill and make stops. And of course, Washington will be a Pro Bowler, All-Pro choice, and potentially in the mix for defensive player of the year, so its not as if Dent should be expected to play at that level. Weatherspoon on his best days is that caliber of player, even Nicholas will approach that on his best days. But from watching Dent this year, I have no expectation that even on his best day he’ll come close to being that sort of player. And fact of the matter is that this Arizona game is perhaps the best game he’s played all year long and it still was night and day.
The pass rush once again was subpar in this game by my reckoning. On Abe’s sack-strip, he got half credit for a hit (split with Dent who also decked Lindley), and Biermann got credit for a pressure as well. Outside that play, there were 6 PPRs (positive pass rushes = sacks/pressures/hits) on 29 Cardinals dropbacks. That would be a pretty good number against most teams, but against the Cardinals it just seems average.
On special teams, Franks did some good things on his first two returns. There, it looked like the presence of Tim Toone had inspired him to do a better job getting upfield quickly and getting maximum yardage. But then in the second half, he reverted to his old ways, which features too much dancing and being overly patient. Note to Franks, you’re not Moses. The Red Sea is not going to part for you. Especially when you’re fielding a punt backed up near your own endzone. It’s your job as the returner to get as many yards as possible in that situation. Even if that means just getting 5 yards and running into a wall of bodies, that’s what you’re supposed to do.
Chris Owens was out of position on the big KO return by William Powell. I noticed he was also out of position on Peterson’s 22-yard punt return in the 1st quarter.
Advanced Stats from Week 11:
Poor Throws (8): Ryan
Drops (2): Turner, White
Key Blocks (4): Blalock (3), Cox (1)
Sacks Allowed (1): Baker
Missed Blocks (4): Clabo (2), Blalock (1), McClure (1)
Pressures Allowed (4): Konz (2), McClure (2)
Tackles For Loss (8): Dent (2), Nicholas (1.5), Abraham (1), Babineaux (1), Biermann (1), Moore (1), Peterson (0.5)
QB Sacks (2): Abraham, Nicholas
QB Pressures (4): Abraham, Babineaux, Biermann, Dent
QB Hits (2): Abraham (1.5), Dent (0.5)
Passes Defended (3): McClain, Robinson, Samuel
Blown Coverages (1): McClain
Missed Tackles (2): McClain, Samuel
Key Blocked (3): Dent (2), Nicholas (1)