By: John Wickham
The Falcons are now not so proud owners of a 1-3 record after a tough lost to the Patriots last night, 30-23. And again the Falcons could not convert field goals into touchdowns in the red zone. After finishing 3-4 in the red zone in Week 1 with 2 TDs and 1 FG, Week 2, 3-3 with 2 TDs and 1 FG, Week 3, 2-5 with 2 TDs and 2 FGs and 1 missed FG the Falcons went 1 for 6 with 1 TD and 3 FG and 2 turnover on downs against the Patriots.
While I do think that the execution of the plays is not perfect I have more of a problem with the play calling. In last night’s game on the first red zone visit after getting the ball to the 6-yard line it was 1st and goal the Falcons pass 3 times and do not run the ball once. A run probably should have been called especially after NT Vince Wilfork went out with an injury. A field goal attempt followed. On attempt #2 the Falcons on 3rd down from the 15 get an 8-yard gain and follow that up with going for it from the 7. A roll-out to the left was called and Ryan was off target to Roddy White. I am an aggressive person so I probably would have gone for it too, even though it was only 7-3 at the time. What I didn’t like was the play call. The roll out was a good call, moving the pocket was good, I just do not like my right-handed QB rolling out to his left and having to throw across his body. On #3 on 3rd and 5 Ryan did not show good pocket awareness and Lamar Holmes did not continue blocking his man until he heard the whistle. This was execution not play calling. Field goal attempt followed. #4 Ryan threw the ball to Tony Gonzalez a couple times for a TD. Nice to see Tony being used in the red zone where he is a mismatch. #5 on 2 and 1 from the 7, it would have been nice to see a run or a screen but with time running out I guess it was out of the question. After an incomplete pass it was 3rd down and a nice play to find rookie TE LevineToilolo but he could not hang on. Another solid play call but not so good execution. On #6 the Falcons have 1st and 10 from the 12 with about 54 seconds and 2 time outs left. I think a run could have been called or a screen at least. It does not help when the defense is allowed to get away with murder on the final drive. Illegal contact after 5 yards and defensive holding should have been called on these last few plays. On the final play Roddy White’s jersey was being pulled away from his pads and was not called and it slowed him down and allowed Aqib Talib to swat the ball away.
If and when the Falcons can improve on their red zone opportunities and come away with more touchdowns instead of field goals or coming up empty, the Falcons can right the ship and make it to the playoffs again.