Matchups are everything in the NFL, but disadvantages can be neutralized with good game-planning.
Last week's game against the Carolina Panthers demonstrated poor game-planning on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
So far, this season has been an impressive display of coaching by the new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and the new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
However, sometimes success can cause coaches and players to misjudge their opponents, and I think this happened in the Georgia Dome against the Panthers.
The offensive line was getting beaten by the smaller and faster defensive line of Carolina. All of Atlanta's offensive linemen are well over 300 pounds, and all of the opponents are well under 300 pounds.
If you are just matching strength, then the Falcons had a distinct advantage. The problem is that the smaller and faster defensive line was using leverage and speed to overwhelm Atlanta's line.
Matt Ryan was able to play his best game this year and save the team from its first loss. However, the coaches should never let him get hit so much. They could have game-planned or adjusted the game plan in order to protect him, but they failed to do so.
Surprisingly, an additional 300-pounder was brought in to no avail. It seems ironic, but I believe Jacquizz Rogers is quick enough and low enough to get leverage on Charles Johnson and provide the added protection (along with Sam Baker or Tyson Clabo) Matt Ryan needed.
Also, the screen pass is a good way to slow down a pass rush. That or Matt Ryan's specialty in past years of rolling out away from the most pressure.
All of these solutions saw little action during the onslaught.
Mike Nolan's defensive game plan was also lacking creativity. Maybe he thought Cam Newton did not require disguises and deception. Maybe he thought the run game was too much of a threat to risk only using one or two linebackers. It is my opinion that not enough blitzing was done.
I think Nolan planned to contain Newton and the running game instead of attacking it. This kind of thinking dearly cost the Falcons.
The good news is that I believe everyone has learned a lesson and there will be a "take no prisoners" attitude against the Washington Redskins. Atlanta has a ton of talent with players and coaches, and I think the adversity will make them harder to beat in upcoming games.
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