Amid a storm, one learns the strength of their foundation. As the wind blows forces come at you from every direction, sometimes, its friendly fire, boo’s in your own house; comfort escapes the norm. As they say, if only one place in the world you should be comfortable, it’s at home. But if you can’t get that the best place to be is on the road. A blessing in disguise for the Falcons, they are literally on the road for the next two weeks. After Houston, they will not come home instead continue to Arizona for a bonding experience, or shall we call it a season-saving journey.
It takes adversity to force reflection. It brings about that time to go deep inside, and soul search the man in the mirror to ensure he has his internal mechanisms geared properly. Then and only then you can look at the man next to you. On the road, there is nowhere to run; needless to say, that’s where the Falcons find themselves looking at the men in the mirror seeking answers to their abysmal 1-3 start. Hopefully, their journey will produce answers.
Michael Jackson recorded the perfect theme song for these challenging times “I’m looking at the man in the mirror I’m asking him to change his ways but what if it’s not you, how do you ask the other man to change his ways. That’s what makes football the ultimate team sport; each player has to be accountable for his role.
It doesn’t get any easier this week facing the Houston Texans as underdogs with star quarterback Deshaun Watson on one side of the ball and former defensive MVP JJ Watt on the other. For a team that’s experiencing inconsistencies everywhere, they present major problems. Coaches talk about being solid in each phase of the game this week; it’s a requirement with an extra emphasis on the trenches. Offensively the Falcons patchwork line has experienced major issues protecting Matt Ryan. He has been sacked 10 times and thrown 6 interceptions. Unfortunately, injuries have prevented the same unit from playing together for a significant amount of time so they can develop that critical ingredient to be successful called chemistry.
The Texans are having some protection issues as well, Deshaun Watson has been sacked 18 times on pace for 72 sacks which are 10 more than last year. The door is opening inward; he should be under siege, but considering the head coach is the defensive coordinator, they are underperforming, limited pressure on the quarterback, allowing the opposing team to get off to a quick start. And let us not bring up the undisciplined penalties such as false starts and encroachment.
I asked coach Jerome Henderson the secondary and pass game coordinator, is it a lack of focus or guys trying too hard?
“You know it could be either, probably a little bit of both, at times you may lose focus in a game, and you make a stupid penalty like that. Then there are times when you are just trying to get off and make a play. You also find that that happens sometimes in situations when we aren’t playing well, and guys start to press a little bit and try to do too much, but you hope that they don’t do that, and just trust the plan, and stick to it, at times, it could be a little bit of both.”
As bad as it was last week versus the Tennessee Titans, I have to give the coaches credit they made critical adjustments at halftime shutting them down; unfortunately, it came after spotting them 24 points.
I asked Dan Quinn if that Blueprint can be carried over to this week, considering they are playing a quarterback with a similar skill set?
On using the same defensive blueprint
used against Tennessee’s offense to Houston:
“I hope more of the blueprint starts earlier. That would be something that I’d certainly be happier about. It’s interesting. Both of those teams, there are some similarities on the defensive side as well. There are some things that Houston does that Tennessee did. They’ve both got mobile quarterbacks that can really extend plays. That’s part of the challenge when you play a guy who really likes to extend them. There may be one play that starts, and then as the quarterback gets outside the pocket, then the next one just begins. You have to do a good job of trying to keep the player in the pocket, so to speak, to say, ‘Hey, on this play, we’re going to keep you remaining a passer as long as we can.’ Sometimes they’ll just get outside anyway, and both of them have really good speed. What I’ve been impressed by studying through [Deshaun] Watson and going through it, man is he strong in the pocket. A guy might be hanging on him, but he can fight through, find a space to go. I think that might be, as accomplished as he is, one of the underrated aspects of his game is how strong he is. I wouldn’t say there’s all the way carry over, but I would say from a similar style and the speed at the position, there’s definitely some of that.”
Win, lose or draw; the only thing you can do is get back to work, and that’s what the Falcons are doing.
Many seem to think the answer is to move on from Dan Quinn, but it’s only the first quarter of the season. Somehow they had to realize changing coordinators on both sides of the ball was an undercover rebuild with the same players. And it was going to take time. Don’t overreact let’s revisit this at midseason.