This game was won in the first quarter by the Falcons with their ability to generate 4 turnovers, and score 13 points off those turnovers. Because otherwise, the offense was fairly mediocre for the Falcons on most of the night. The offense did generate 14 points of their own volition, but other than those two drives, they really looked lackluster.
First off the Broncos defense should get a ton of credit for that. They are a tough unit and kept their team in the game despite those numerous turnovers early in the game that got them behind. Von Miller is a beast and he showed it several times throughout this game. They had Reynolds help Clabo a ton in this game to keep Miller in check. Any time Gonzalez was put on an island against him as a run blocker, Miller made him look fairly foolish.
The offensive line did a fairly good job against the formidable Broncos pass rush. Miller and Dumervil were held in check. They were able at times to get pressure on Ryan, but it wasn’t an amount that swung the game in the Broncos’ favor. The Falcons gave up 8 pressures, with 3 of them coming from backs and receivers. The run blocking was non-existent and the Falcons ground attack was paltry at best. The Falcons had 15 first down runs in the game, and were successful on only 1 of them, which happened to be the 14th one on the final drive of the game. The Falcons averaged 1.6 yards per carry on first down. That’s the polar opposite of what I was talking about last week about how the running game could be an X-Factor. That’s a success rate of 7% on first down. A poor success rate would be 25%, so 7% is downright pathetic.
Most of the blame for that poor ground attack has to put on the line. But Turner missed holes and did not run with great burst or explosion. Quizz did little with his limited opportunities, but the Falcons have to start giving him and Snelling more opportunities, because Turner is not getting the job done. And in light of his off-field issues, this week against San Diego will be a perfect opportunity to shift towards an offense spear-headed by Quizz/Snelling. I also can’t help but think some of it is missing Ovie Mughelli. Not that Lousaka Polite has played poorly, but he’s an average fullback.
Ryan played well, making some very good throws in this game. Roddy White was excellent, and Tony Gonzalez played very well as well. Julio Jones was a non-entity and that is worrisome given that the whole point of trading for Jones was so that our No. 2 WR (formerly Michael Jenkins) would no longer be a non-entity in games.
The defense was able to generate some big plays, taking advantage of Peyton Manning’s lesser arm strength and inability to throw the ball downfield. All three interceptions were excellent plays by Moore, DeCoud, and McClain. Especially McClain who read the throw the entire way. That showed a level of awareness that we don’t usually see in reserve corners for the Falcons, and something I did not believe McClain possessed. William Moore had a brilliant game. The interception is probably going to be the big highlight from this game, but the best play he made was a play where he ran probably 25 yards across the field on a line to break up a touchdown to Demaryius Thomas. Thomas beat Robinson badly on a double move and was wide open in the endzone. Moore delivered a hit on Thomas that broke up the easy touchdown. Unfortunately for Moore, it won’t count officially on the stat sheets because of Ryan Clady’s hold on John Abraham negated the play. Samuel played better than his earnings indicate, namely due to his solid efforts in run support. Robinson was fine as well. Other than the TD he almost gave up to Thomas (noted previously) and then the actual touchdown he gave up to Thomas a few plays later, he was fine. He too also did some nice things in run support. Owens struggled in his limited reps early in the game, and still looks a bit lost in the slot. Based off this game alone, the Falcons will be better served having Franks play in the slot than him. DeCoud also played well, and his two missed tackles that lowered his earnings were more him trying to cover up for others mistakes than mistakes of his own. The front did nothing, and the Falcons inability to generate pass rush is still very concerning with their front. Abraham got a hit on Manning, Babineaux and Walker both got coverage sacks. But other than that, the front was a non-entity for four quarters. The only other pressure the Falcons generated came on blitzes. All of the credit for the defensive performance rests on the back seven. Only two blown coverages in this game is pretty good.
Both Nicholas and Weatherspoon had strong performances. Dent hardly played and I think not having their base package was one of the reasons why the run defense struggled at various times. But the Broncos front was able to get push and too often McGahee had free reign to get to the second level. Nicholas earnings aren’t as high because he was caught taking on too many linemen and getting key blocked as a result of it.
I will also officially note a public protest against the officiating in this game. It was poor with administration and there were some highly questionable flags (for instance Blalock’s hold in the first quarter). As noted before, I tend to cut the refs slack due to the fact that my grandfather formerly was a referee and it’s a very tough gig. But that slack I’ll give to the regular refs, not these replacements who have no business being out there. The NFL is dropping the ball on this. Get the regular guys back.
Advanced Stats from Week 2:
Poor Throws (3): Ryan
Drops (4): Jones (2), Gonzalez (1), Rodgers (1)
Key Blocks (3): Clabo, McClure, Polite
Sacks Allowed (1): Clabo
Missed Blocks (5): Gonzalez (2), McClure (2), Baker (1)
QB Pressures Allowed (8): Baker (2), Blalock (1), Clabo (1), Reynolds (1), Rodgers (1), Turner (1), Douglas (0.5), Polite (0.5)
Tackles For Loss (5): Nicholas (2), Jerry (1), Moore (1), Weatherspoon (1)
QB Sacks (3): Babineaux, Moore, Walker
QB Pressures (2): Franks, Nicholas
QB Hits (1): Abraham
Passes Defended (4): Robinson (2), Moore (1), Weatherspoon (1)
Blown Coverages (2): Owens, Robinson
Missed Tackles (3): DeCoud (2), Samuel (1)
Key Blocked (9): Nicholas (3), Weatherspoon (2), Jerry (1), Robinson (1), Samuel (1), Walker (1)