Looking back at the Atlanta Falcons’ 2013 regular season, where they owned a 4-12 record, the Dirty Birds had several glaring holes that were the size of the astroids in the movie Deep Impact. With all of their weaknesses however, the main reason the Falcons completely crashed and burned was because of their non-existent defensive line that became invisible.
When I watched the Falcons’ game, they were so bad that I ended up having more fun watching the Cleveland Browns, even though the end result has always been the same since 1999. Though the Browns ended their year with yet again another losing streak, the Browns’ defense made the Falcons’ defense look like a bunch of chickens running around with their heads cut off.
While both sides of the line were downright atrocious, defense wins championships and unfortunately for the Falcons, somebody forgot to tell them that in what was supposed to be a Super Bowl-bound year.
Starting off with the offensive line, they allowed Matt Ryan to be sacked a career-high 44 times, with most of those sacks feeling as if a train hit you dead-on, or in the words of Miley Cyrus, coming in like a “wrecking ball.” Either way, Ryan’s body was clobbered for the most part, as he was smashed into tiny pieces in every single game. On top of being sacked by like a million Hulks, Ryan also got knocked down and hit on numerous occasions, as if Thor slammed him with his all-powerful Hammer.
While Ryan unconsciously dreamed about his $100 million going into his medical fees, the offensive line did a terrible job of blocking or even creating any running lanes for the Falcons’ running backs. They ended up owning the worst rushing offense in the NFL during the regular season.
As bad as the offensive line has played this year, the real culprit and the root for the Falcons’ real problems lies not on the offensive side, but solely goes to the Falcons’ defensive line.
Although the Falcons were hit with an unfair amount of injuries to key players such as defensive end Kroy Biermann with a season-ending injury, they are still professionals getting paid millions to do one thing and one thing only: play defense. With that being said, the Falcons ranked 31st against the run and 21st against the pass.
Even at the beginning of the year, the Falcons couldn’t stop anyone and allowed every single team that played against them do pretty much whatever they wanted to. From underachieving rookies throwing touchdown passes like Dan Marinoto unknown third-string running backs on cruise control or simply allowing anyone on the opposing team offense break off a 40-yard plus play as if it was Christmas every single day.
After being one of the top teams in terms of creating turnovers on defense, the Falcons were one of the worst with only 21 total turnovers. Outside of defensive tackle Corey Peters and Osi Umenyiora combining for 12.5 sacks, the other three lineman combined for only 8.5 sacks.
In almost every single game, the Falcons’ defensive line were either busy laying on the opposing offensive lineman, or were too busy trying to pick their 300-pound bodies off the ground after getting outmuscled and outmanned on the line.
Throughout the year and to their bitter end, the Falcons had zero pass rush, which creates a domino effect on the linebackers and explains the huge coverage breakdowns in the secondary that ultimately lead to big plays.
So while I agree the Falcons offensive line was terrible, the defensive line for the Dirty Birds is just indescribable. They are so bad that the team from the movie Little Giants could probably score on them.
If the Falcons plan on a grand comeback in 2014, they better get some defensive players that can not only pressure the quarterback, but actually knows what they are doing defensively.