* The Falcons are an interesting team. They really struggled in the season opener and lost to Chicago 30-12. They were dominated at times on Sunday night, but came up huge in the 4th quarter and pulled out a 35-31 win over the Eagles.
Anyone who has watched Matt Ryan for a while knows that one of his strengths is his toughness, both mentally and physically. The Eagles beat him up badly in parts of the game. There was a stretch in the 3rd quarter when Matt had happy feet and was bailing on pressure that wasn’t there. What makes him such an impressive young QB is that he worked through that stuff and then turned into Matty Ice in the 4th quarter.
Ryan made some clutch throws, but also did a good job of making adjustments at the line and pushing the tempo of the game. He knew he had the Eagles on their heels on one drive and didn’t let up.
The problem I have with Matt is that the offense still doesn’t feel right. The Falcons only put up 318 yards in the game. The Falcons scored 5 TDs. 3 came on short field and a 4th was greatly aided by a long Michael Turner run. Matt has a lot of weapons, but the offense feels too dysfunctional to me. He’s got the weapons around him. It is time for Ryan and the Falcons to become more aggressive and explosive. You can’t count on short fields. Against the Bears, field position was a major problem and the Falcons offense didn’t score a TD.
* TE Tony Gonzalez no longer runs like he used to, but he’s still a gifted receiver. He has excellent feet and is very quick. He has great hands. Tony can catch the ball in traffic and make tough grabs. His TD catch was a thing of beauty. Also a smart guy.
* The Falcons have a pair of young defenders to watch. DT Peria Jerry was disruptive in the game. It was hit quick penetration that blew up the goal line play and led to the fumble and long return. He got the best of Eagles blockers a few times.
OLB Sean Weatherspoon is off to a good start. He had one horrible missed tackle in the opener that led to a long Matt Forte TD, but played a cleaner game Sunday night. Sean leads the Falcons with 20 tackles. He’s got 2 TFLs and a PD. He covers well, but is also physical on the LOS against run plays. He could develop into a Pro Bowl LB.
* Rams QB Sam Bradford can be very impressive at times. He has a very strong arm and makes very accurate throws. He executes his play fakes well. Bradford runs the offense like a natural leader. His weakness is the Red Zone. Things are compressed in there. QBs must anticipate. Bradford has the habit of so many young QBs. He wants to see the receiver open and then throw. Can’t do that. You have to know who will be open and throw early. Or you “throw the player open”. There is risk in both areas, but Sam has the Rams settling for FGs way too often. That’s no way to win.
* The Cardinals defense is off to a bad start, allowing 466 yards per game. I just don’t get that group. They have some talent, but so many odd pieces. Patrick Peterson might be the biggest CB in the NFL. Adrian Wilson might be the biggest S. Darnell Dockett is a 4-3 player that they force into the 3-4. DBs have 3 of the teams’s 5 sacks. Go get a special edge rusher if you want to run the 3-4. Study the Steelers. That team loads up on LBs even when they’ve got guys. The Cards have been busy loading up on RBs, the most replaceable position in football. Ugh.
I am very encouraged with what I’ve seen from ILB Daryl Washington. He looks like he could be a big time player.
* Somebody please tell Rob Ryan he doesn’t have to blitz on every play since he’s got DeMarcus Ware on his defense.
* The 2 most under appreciated RBs in the NFL are Fred Jackson and Matt Forte. Things might change for Jackson as Buffalo wins and they get some pub. Jackson leads the NFL in rushing and is averaging 6.5 yards per carry. He is strong enough to break tackles, but also has some speed and athletic ability. He runs hard. Jackson is also a gifted receiver.
Forte is a similar player. His numbers aren’t as good, but the Bears are using him differently. On Sunday Matt was 10-49 as a runner. Nothing great. He caught 10 passes for 117 yards. He’s got 15 catches for 207 yards on the season so far. Those would be good WR numbers.