Three-Quarters Season Review

Okay, so the Falcons are 3-9 and just have one month to go until the end of the season. Hopefully they can get their act together and pull out one or two more victories before this thing is done.

OFFENSE

Quarterback – Harrington and Leftwich did nothing over the past three weeks, and now Chris Redman with his surprisingly good performance in the fourth quarter against the Rams has a legit chance of starting the remainder of the season. Frankly, I don’t have high hopes for Redman being able to outplay either the reason of the way. GRADE: D+

Running Back – Dunn continues to be hot and cold, and mostly cold. Norwood has continued to be underused by this offense. He’s not the guy that can carry the load, but he should definitely be getting more reps than Dunn the rest of the way. GRADE: C

Receivers – White has had some big games the past two weeks and is firmly on pace to be the team’s first 1000-yard receiver since 1999. And at his current pace his projected 1227 yards will almost exceed any total produced by a Falcon receiver during their Run N’ Shoot Era, with the 1242 yards by Andre Rison in 1993 being the lone exception. Horn, Jenkins, and Robinson have been pretty decent, although their ability to make plays have been sporadic. Robinson has struggled with holding onto the ball in recent weeks. GRADE: B+

Offensive Line – Considering all the injuries, this unit is not all bad. BUt they are unable to open holes up the middle and pass protection has been iffy at best. The one real bright spot about this unit is that with all the young guys playing this year, it should make depth pretty good for next season. GRADE: C-

Offensive MVP: Roddy White
Runners Up: Jerious Norwood

Overview – This team is still struggling to score points. Before it seemed that they were often coming up empty in the red zone, but as of late it seems that they are even struggling to find the red zone. Outside of White and Norwood, nothing is really positive here. GRADE: D+

DEFENSE

Defensive Line – Injuries have hurt them at tackle in recent weeks, but Babineaux and Stanley are getting by. Abraham isn’t quite the force he was early in the year off the edge, but still is able to get some pressure on opposing quarterbacks. It’s a good thing, because Jamaal Anderson has barely sniffed quarterbacks. It’s a wonder why he hasn’t been benched since Chauncey Davis has vastly outperformed him throughout this season. GRADE: C+

Linebackers
– Outside of Boley, this position is questionable. Brooking has been sporadic at best, and Williams has been almost invinsible in terms of making plays for most of this season. Boley has basically functioned as a one-man wrecking crew at this position, making tackles and stops where the other two should be. It’s obvious that both players will need to be replaced very soon. GRADE: B-

Secondary – Houston has shown some positive things over the last month or so, but he was also shown against the Rams why Holt and Bruce are potential Hall of Famers even at their current ages. The nickel has been an issue whether it’s Crocker or Sanders lining up there. Crocker has been forced to play more coverage than he should, and it has reaped the expected negative results as it did a year ago. Milloy’s play has picked up immeasurably since the bye, and Hall has been having his best year. But even still, those two cannot cover up the mistakes made by the rest of the group who are clearly outmatched. GRADE: B-

Defensive MVP: Michael Boley
Runners Up: John Abraham, DeAngelo Hall, Lawyer Milloy

Overview – The defense has been mostly good considering the offense that they are forced to work with. But this unit has not been as strong in recent weeks as it was earlier in the season. Basically they are going to give up 20 or so points a game, which wouldn’t be too bad, but unfortunately our offense is only capable of putting up 14-17 points in a given week. GRADE: B-

Special Teams – Jennings and Norwood have improved as the season has wore on in terms of their return abilities, and Koenen and Andersen have had no issues for several weeks. But penalties and poor discipline have killed this unit. There’s been some questionable calls, but for the most part this unit has brought its troubles on itself. GRADE: C+

Coaching – Dull and conservative play-calling has been a problem, and it’s been counter-acted with some overly aggressive play-calling at the wrong time. Managing the clock has also been an issue with Petrino. However, the team continues to play hard and remain competitive late in games for the most part, so that remains a big positive. GRADE: B-

Rookies – Milner and Lewis have joined Datish on injured reserve. Irons and Stone have contributed on special teams, but both have had their fair share of rookie mistakes or at least some close calls while there. Nicholas probably should be starting instead of Williams (he can’t be any less a non-factor!), but injuries have hurt his progress as of late. Blalock has improved somewhat in recent weeks, but still is far from good. Anderson’s lack of burst and quickness is becoming more tiresome as the season wears on. Houston has played okay for an overmatched rookie. You could say the same about Robinson, but he probably shouldn’t be getting the workload that he is receiving. There is some hope that Snelling might provide a teensy bit of a spark over these final weeks, but Petrino first has to play him.

Rookie MVP: Chris Houston (only because of Lewis’s injury).

Final Quarter Outlook – The Falcons looked like they were building some momentum at midseason, but have squandered it since. The hope is that they can basically pull some upsets these final four weeks. All are games that they should lose since the Saints, Bucs, Cardinals, and Seahawks are all better teams. But this team is capable of beating all of these teams. It’ll just take them coming together and playing as a complete team for like the first time in forever. Pulling out two wins in December will do wonders to build some momentum for next season.

About the Author

Aaron Freeman
Founder of FalcFans.com