The Atlanta Falcons entered 2013 with high hopes and were picked by many as the NFC favorite to head to the Super Bowl. After additions like running back Steven Jackson and defensive end Osi Umenyiora, Atlanta looked to be loaded with talent to start the year.
Well, now that Jackson is hurt and will be missing a few weeks, the Falcons can start looking at that aspect of their game for a reason why they’re off to a 1-2 start. This isn’t necessarily something they could have controlled, of course, but the two guys behind Jackson have to step up.
In their second loss in week three to the Miami Dolphins, the Falcons actually ran the ball well. The Dolphins played them tough and came away with a win — simple as that. Miami is not a team to take lightly right now with Ryan Tannehill playing so much better this year, and the Falcons just fell victim to a team in sync.
After three weeks, the Falcons rank in the top 10 of the NFL in two key categories — passing yards per game and rushing yards allowed per game. Unfortunately, the problem and biggest reason why they are 1-2 lies in the exact opposite of those two stats.
Atlanta ranks 21st in the NFL in rushing yards per game and 25th in passing yards allowed per game. If it wasn’t for their 146 yards rushing on Sunday against the Dolphins, that first number would be much, much worse.
To begin the season, they lost to a New Orleans Saints team that is more motivated than ever. It’s tough to stop Drew Brees when he’s on a mission like he’s been so far this year. But, if the Falcons are to turn it around — especially right now without Jackson — they are going to need to shore up that pass defense a bit more. Get some stops on third and long — an area that Tannehill had success in down the stretch on Sunday.
Atlanta will also have to continue and run the ball well without Jackson. Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling have been OK, but they have to step it up. The Falcons deserve to be 1-2 right now. The stats prove it to be true. They aren’t healthy at the moment, therefore the guys stepping in have got to play better. If that fails to happen, Atlanta could find themselves in unfamiliar territory soon.