Atlanta Falcons: Lessons from Motown

The Atlanta Falcons were certainly fortunate to have secured a 30-26 victory over the Detroit Lions in Sunday’s game in Motown. Of course, the waning moments of the contest has been mired in controversy as a Lions’ game-winning touchdown was negated after a review by the officials with only eight seconds remaining will be discussed for some time in the future.

Although countless reviews of the play appeared to validate the call, there are valuable lessons to be learned by the Falcons from this experience. The first is illustrated by former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb from statements he uttered in one of those parades of eristic sports shows that dominate weekday morning cable television.

Essentially, the venerable McNabb opined that the Atlanta Falcons were probably the most overrated football team in early season NFL history. His premise centered on the fact that Atlanta’s defense still struggles to put teams out of their misery during the second half of games.

While this has been a point of contention for Falcons fans since their catastrophic collapse against the New England Patriots on my birthday in Super Bowl LI, there are reasons for this tendency. For example, Falcons Head coach Dan Quinn elected to call a timeout at 2:09 just moments before the two-minute warning as the Detroit Lions’ scoring drive was about to conclude. Quinn hoped to provide his offense added time to go on a scoring drive themselves before half.

          It seemed as if Quinn heard the late Al Davis whisper in his ear Davis’ motto: We shall take what we want! Unfortunately, the gambit was unsuccessful as the Lions’ Glover Quin intercepted a Matt Ryan pass for a 37-yard momentum-changing touchdown. Yes, the aggressive move backfired, but it was not entirely incorrect.

The miscue did put more pressure on the defense to be out on the field for more possessions, which is not the best course of action for Atlanta when they have injured playmakers out like Vic Beasley Jr. Last season, I wrote an entry based on the late Vince Lombardi’s famous quote, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” I used this expression because I noticed that the team, overall, faded like a 1985 Yugo at times because the defense was young and inexperienced in 2016.

In conclusion, the Atlanta Falcons and the fan base are on their own when it comes to galvanizing support. For example, the Falcons’ new aerie (Mercedes-Benz Stadium) did not receive an overwhelming embrace by some media members as the season commenced. It seemed like the reluctance was that some did not want to give the stadium credit for possibly supplanting Jerry Jones’ AT&T Stadium (aka The Death Star) as North America’s premier play palace.

Nevertheless, the Falcons must balance the desire for offensive supremacy with long drives that can assist the defensive unit in their development. Besides, one does not need to accelerate 0-60 in five seconds on every offensive possession.