“FALCONS LACK HEART OF A CHAMPION!”
NFL Report: Titans vs. Falcons
Week 7 Matchup
Sunday October 25, 2015 1:00 P.M.
– All-Star Steve
On paper, the Tennessee Titans vs. Atlanta Falcons matchup adds further support for football pundits who believe Atlanta’s once unbeaten record was a result of a weak schedule. Until the short week loss to the New Orleans Saints, the Falcons coaches had been able to mask the team’s weaknesses and had them playing at a high quality level no matter what grade you gave their schedule. And going into this week it was unlikely they were going to suffer a loss to a rookie starting quarterback, Titans’ QB, Marcus Mariota, and thus, allow him to win his first game against an above .500 record team. But with Mariota’s injury this past Sunday enters Zach Mettenberger and also enters the possibility that the Falcons could possibly lose their 2nd game of the season.
Record aside, Atlanta had been playing extremely well on both sides of the ball. Their three-headed offense attack of QB Matt Ryan, WR Julio Jones, and RB Devonta Freeman is lethal. But fumbles and turnovers quickly stalled their attack against the Saints. Also, on the defensive side of the ball, they remain tops in the league in rushing yards allowed. And despite giving up huge yardage in the passing game, until Thursday’s loss, the Falcons defense had been able to get stops when they needed to and to limit the scoring of opponents.
And that’s where it would have been more beneficial to play against Mariota than against Mettenberger. Mariota has shown the potential to be to be a long-time starter in the league, but he had not been a consistent long range passer. His strength was in throwing short and medium passes and in game management. Coach Ken Whisenhunt would have continued to lie on a very conservative game plan for his rookie quarterback which he doesn’t have to do with Mettenberger. He can now open up a more attacking passing style. Mettenberger has a stronger arm, more pocket presence, and is going to present the same problems to the Falcons pass defense that Drew Bress did in the Saints loss.
On the other side of the field, the Titans defense had not been playing strong enough to carry the team through the ups and down of a rookie quarterback in the first several games and thus the 1-5 record. But let’s not be too hasty to dismiss three things: 1. This is the NFL where the game is played on the field, not in press clippings and scouting reports; 2. This is a copy-cat league and once your weaknesses have been exposed in a loss, every team playing after that game is going to try to attack those same weaknesses and 3. Any team can win on any given Sunday.
Despite the great running of Freeman; look for the Titans’ defense under the direction of Hall of Famer, Dick LeBeau to limit Atlanta’s offense. He is slowly shaping Tennessee’s’ defense into the intimidating defense that he led with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Titans rank near the bottom in rushing yards allowed per game. But they rank first in the number of passing yards that they allow. That doesn’t bode well for the Falcons offense that is short of a 100% Julio Jones who will play this week, but who is still ailing and needs time to rest from a hamstring injury. Roddy White and Leonard Hankerson have not adequately picked up the loss in Jones’s production and the offensive line still can’t pass protect long enough to allow Matt Ryan to stay upright.
Atlanta is one of the better teams in the NFL but has not proved itself to be one of the “Best” teams in the league such as Green Bay and New England and as evidenced by consistently winning the games they are supposed to win. Most people will predict this matchup as an easy win for the Falcons; noting that the Falcons will be seeking to come back strong from a loss and to prevent two losses in a row. But that takes the heart of champion and I’ll believe the Falcons have that heart when I see it.