Despite scoring only 19 points, I was impressed with how the offense performed against the Cowboys. Breakdowns in pass protection and their inability to run the ball in the early part of this game prevented them from finishing some drives. But for the most part, the Falcons had little issue moving the ball against the Cowboys defense.
Matt Ryan had an excellent game despite not throwing a touchdown. Roddy White and Julio Jones for chunks of this game appeared uncoverable to Dallas defenders. The Cowboys only effective way of slowing down the Falcons passing attack was with pressure, something they got regularly in the first three quarters. But when things counted late the O-line stepped up, protected Ryan, and opened some running lanes for Turner.
I think Turner may have looked the most like his former self in this game, running hard, and breaking a number of tackles. The Falcons goalline and short-yardage blocking has been abysmal this year, so it was nice to see Turner pound it in from 3 yards out for the team’s lone touchdown on the night. In previous efforts, it might have taken the team 3 or more plays to run it in from that distance. Konz got the key block on that play, and had a much improved effort than he did last week. Clabo continues to struggle in pass protection despite not giving up any pressures or sacks. I counted five “hurries” he gave up, which I’ve previously explained are times when pressure happened but did not result in an incompletion, or there was light enough pressure where the QB had to rush a throw or move off his spot. The rest of the line combined for just two hurries. So while Baker’s earnings were less, I think he had the better game among the tackles. Overall, a subpar effort up front which has been a regular occurrence this season.
The team cut Lousaka Polite this week. You might make the case that this was his strongest lead blocking effort of the season, but that isn’t really saying much since he was fairly poor in all other games. The dropped pass, missed assignments, and poor pass protection combined to force the team’s hand. Personally if I was calling the shots in Atlanta, I would just move Snelling to fullback. Cox is largely serviceable, and probably won’t be a Falcon next year (due to Ewing’s return), thus I’d try to find some developmental guy to use his roster spot on. Or perhaps give Matthews or Massaquoi more reps on gameday with the extra spot. But it’s fairly inconsequential. And who knows, maybe Cox actually helps improve the ground game down the stretch.
Rodgers really came through with two critical third down conversions. I really want to see the Falcons do a better job integrating their entire receiver corps with Harry Douglas being largely an afterthought. I have no answers to offer them. I think one of the issues for Douglas in this particular game was the quality of Dallas’ corners, and his continued struggles with beating press and tight man coverage.
Babs had another standout game, and that really makes 3 out of his last 4 where he has really popped upon review. He really shined in this game working predominantly at end. Frankly I’m not sure if he had a single snap playing inside. It seems like Nolan is completely adopting more of a 3-4 style in recent games. John Abraham had a very quiet game, and it might have had to do with him standing up the entire game, he also may not he had a single snap with his hand on the ground. Biermann played well, as I counted 3.5 hurries for him. His pass rushing has improved the past two weeks. Is that a coincidence that those have also been he games where Abe was least effective? I wish I knew…
Corey Peters had a bit more pep in his step, but got pushed around a couple of times during the early part of the third quarter when the Cowboy running game was gashing us. It’s a process and I’m mainly hoping for continued growth in the next few games as he works back into game shape. Ray Edwards is a non-entity at this point now, as Babs has essentially assumed his role as an end. He only shows up when he’s unblocked. At this point if he’s only going to play a handful of snaps, you might as well give those reps to Sidbury, Matthews, or Massaquoi, i.e. someone that should be on the team in 2013. I say this because it’s the midpoint in the year, and I doubt I will have any cause to mention Edwards anymore times in these reviews the rest of the year.
Dent had a fairly solid game by his standards, as he’s made strides since the bye week. Nicholas also played well, making some nice plays against the run. Nicholas continued to have his issues in coverage. Whenever he’s been pitted against a quality tight end like Witten or Fred Davis, among others, he has had too many “Curtis Lofton moments” i.e. times where he has looked completely lost in coverage. McClain had no big plays, but had a very solid game, able to show his abilities in run support.
Samuel and Robinson did not have their best efforts. There are too many lapses from both of them. Moore’s tackling was a little iffy, while DeCoud didn’t really have to do much.
Special team was erratic, a few too many missed assignments, almost having a punt blocked, and Bryant’s two missed field goals were the lowlights. Why Franks chose to field a punt inside the 5 is beyond me.
Advanced Stats from Week 9:
Poor Throws (1): Ryan
Drops (2): Polite, Turner
Key Blocks (3): Blalock, Konz, White
Sacks Allowed (3): Baker, Polite, Rodgers
Missed Blocks (3): Baker, Blalock, Konz
Pressures Allowed (3): Baker (1.5), McClure (1), Blalock (0.5)
Tackles for Loss (4): Babineaux (2.5), Nicholas (1), Walker (0.5)
QB Sacks (1): Babineaux
QB Pressures (2): Babineaux (1), Abraham (0.5), Biermann (0.5)
QB Hits (1): Nicholas (1)
Passes Defended (3): Babineaux, Dent, Samuel
Blown Coverages (4): Samuel (2), Moore (1), Robinson (1)
Missed Tackles (2): Nicholas, Peterson
Key Blocked (4): Peters (2), Jerry (1), Nicholas (1)