Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons may not have pressed the panic button yet, but their finger should be on it after a Week 5 loss to the New York Jets. Ryan and the offense moved the ball and put up 28 points, but the Falcons failed to come away with their second win of the season.
Here’s five things that the loss revealed about the Falcons going forward.
Matt Ryan can’t do it all. He can come close. Ryan is deserving of his nine-figure extension and is in the top handful of quarterbacks either way you slice it, but he can’t do it all. Ryan recorded a QB rating of 111.0 against the Jets, which was the second time he’s had a triple-digit rating and gone home with a loss via Matt Haley NFL.com.
Mike Smith and the Falcons coaching staff can’t ask for much more out of Ryan, so production has to come from somewhere.
The Falcons need Steven Jackson back and healthy. Jacquizz Rodgers did find the end zone twice, but he tallied just 43 yards on 14 carries. Jason Snelling provided little help with just 13 yards on seven carries.
While Jackson is a shell of his former self, he still provides a more threatening and consistent rushing threat. In his only full game with the Falcons this year, he put up 77 rushing yards on 11 carries and 45 receiving yards.
Rodgers and Snelling didn’t combine for those numbers last week.
Having Jackson back in pads may also improve the Falcons inability to convert on crucial goal-line opportunities. Trailing by 10, Smith decided to go for the touchdown on 4th-and-1 before halftime. They failed to convert, but they were gifted a pass interference penalty and a fresh set of downs with one second left on the clock.
Smith went for the touchdown again, but the give to Rodgers was stopped short. As Kevin Patra of NFL.com points out, “It was the second week in a row the Falcons declined a first-half field goal attempt near the goal line and failed to convert.”
Atlanta’s defense has also shaky this season. Once again, the inconsistency reared its ugly head as the Falcons allowed Geno Smith and company to drive down for the game-winning field goal.
“I don’t know if they were playing soft. We didn’t execute like we needed to, especially on that last drive,” said Smith via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “There were some opportunities to make some tackles.”
Lastly, the Falcons will need to find a way to make the big play. Many NFL games are closely contested and most come down to a few crucial plays. Last year, the Falcons seemed to be the benefactor of said plays, but this year has been different.
Usually the most crucial plays are turnovers. The Falcons defense has forced the least amount of turnovers in the NFC this season. While it’s not an exact science, it’s easy to see there aren’t a lot of winning records towards the bottom of that list.
The Jets upset of the Falcons has shown some flaws in Atlanta’s big-play ability and goal-line offense. However, it may also come to fruition that this was not an upset at all, but instead a close game between two decent NFL teams.