Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The coaching staff's decision to shake up the offensive line by trying Joe Hawley at center and giving Ryan Schraeder some playing time shows that they're at least acknowledging that they may have been wrong about some of the evaluations they made up front before the season.
Also, for whatever it's worth, after falling behind 38-6, the Falcons outscored the Bucs 22-3 to make the final score appear closer than the game actually was. At least some of Atlanta's backups looked like they haven't given up.
If you're this far into this slideshow, you can probably fill this section in yourself.
In addition to everything we've discussed, the most alarming aspect of Sunday's defeat may have been that the Falcons looked like they weren't giving any effort for the first three quarters of the game.
Falcons fans came to expect performances like the one they saw Sunday back in 2007 during Bobby Petrino's brief stint in Atlanta, but not since Mike Smith took over in 2008.
As D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, Falcons owner Arthur Blank gave Mike Smith a vote of confidence after the game.
But Smith's own statements about his performance on Sunday were a bit more damning.“The way that we played was unacceptable. The way that we coached is unacceptable,” Mike Smith said, via Jay Adams of AtlantaFalcons.com. “We’ve got to continue to work. We’ve got to continue to try to find answers and mix and match with the people in place that will help us win football games.”
The fact that Smith is talking about how poorly he coached against Bucs coach Greg Schiano, whose own job could be in jeopardy after this season, says a lot about how far the Falcons have fallen.
You can't blame a performance like the one the Falcons had on Sunday on injuries. Look at how competitive Green Bay has been in its last two games with an undrafted rookie taking most of the snaps at quarterback. If a team has a system that works, the system will create opportunities for less talented players to compete at their highest levels.
That hasn't happened in Atlanta this year because it hasn't looked like much of a system is in place other than to come out and try to react to whatever the other team is doing.
Smith isn't hiding from his share of the blame, but unfortunately for him, Sunday's loss is only going to raise more questions about whether he's the right man to turn this team around.