Who are the 2012 Atlanta Falcons? After watching seven games, the best I can come up with is: "awesomely undefeated."
I have seen stifling and opportunistic defenses only a week before seeing the same players struggle to stop a nosebleed. Or even an offense that has averaged over 28 points a game but cannot run the ball. The only consistency is kicking ass towards a record 7-0 start.
The Falcons were picked by an estimated 4% of analysts to win this game because (1) the Eagles have been historically good after the bye (but hadn't reshuffled personnel and coaching during one like this) and (2) the Eagles have to win this one. Sure, those are the two most foolish reasons for picking a team to win, so Atlanta manhandled the Eagles 30-17.
It is OK to throw out your Vick jersey now. There will never be a reason for it. More on the win after the jump.
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Our offense is awesome. If there was concern about the Falcons offensive line or offensive struggles, the win today confirms those fears were unfounded. The Eagles got only (only?) two sacks despite going heavier on the blitz in their high pressure "wide 9" defensive formation and Ryan had a pretty clean pocket. Ryan kept up his great season posting 22/29 for 262 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Even Drew Davis is awesome. As crisp as the weather was today, Ryan was crisper all game and took whatever the Eagles defense gave him. Is Drew Davis going to get not only his first catch but his first touchdown? Absolutely. Ryan first hit Davis on a crucial third and long situation for 15 yards then soon after the touchdown. The touchdown play shows exactly what the Falcons offense can do and how Matt Ryan can exploit a defense. On third and seven on the Eagles 15 yard line, Julio Jones and Drew Davis were heading towards the end zone on the right side of the formation when Julio makes a cut and both defenders follow him, leaving Davis completely uncovered and able to pull in the touchdown. Julio is always a huge threat but Ryan has become great at distributing the ball to anyone and everyone.
Good to see a guy like Drew Davis push for a roster spot and make a few plays today. Ryan is getting Brees-like in hitting the defensive mismatch. This may be frustrating to fantasy football-owners but there will be games where Tony Gonzalez gets 123 yards, Roddy White gets 169 yards or Julio Jones gets 123 yards, all depending on who has the best matchup.
Our run game is at least improved. The run game looked improved thanks to a big dose of Jacquizz Rodgers and a dash of Jason Snelling. It certainly felt that around halfway through the third quarter Atlanta went a bit more conservative to try to milk the clock. I think a few long runs made the statistics a bit better looking than they should and our run game still needs work.
The defense showed up today. The fans saw the best of our Jekyll and Hyde defense as the Falcons absolutely smothered the Eagles offense. Michael Vick was under 200 passing and my biggest fear, Lesean McCoy, rushed for under 50 yards and 3.0 YPC. The Eagles OL did little to help but their offense struggled to do much of anything effectively. Outside of Michael Vick running pretty well our defense held them into check.
It was good to see multiple defensive fronts, like Corey Peters playing nose in a 34 with Kroy as an OLB, or just allowing our safeties to play up to their talent level. The previously mediocre Thomas DeCoud continues to have a Pro Bowl season, sacking Vick on a blitz and leading the team in tackles. Robert McClain deserves an honorary mention as he has made some impactful plays as an UDFA and has a real nose for the ball.
The takeaway? Be happy Falcons fans. Your Falcons went to Philadelphia in the wind and rain, took away Andy Reid's post-bye week record and left with a great win.
Get more great Atlanta Falcons news and analysis over at The Grits Blitz.