If the Falcons make the playoffs, it won’t cover up the real problem

Published 1:20 pm Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Who was that team playing the Saints at the Superdome in New Orleans Sunday? They were wearing black, white and red and had a logo on their helmets that looked like an Atlanta Falcon, but they sure didn’t look like anything resembling that team for the past 14 games.
It’s true, though. The Falcons strolled into New Orleans this weekend and took care of business like it was the only thing they were born to do. The defense sacked Saints quarterback Drew Brees five times, their record this season. Brees was also 16-of-27 passing for 226 yards and two interceptions.
In almost every essence of the word, Atlanta dominated that game. But looking at the Saints this season—their 3-5 home record and elimination from the playoff race after Sunday’s matchup—did the Falcons really show up in flying colors, or did they just have a lucky break against a weak team?
The Falcons defense still looks awful, especially with a secondary that consistently blows coverage downfield. Luckily, though, Brees wasn’t throwing to those wide-open receivers with 10-yard or more cushions. All afternoon, he was zipping passes to the receivers who were covered, sometimes into double-coverage, hence the two interceptions.
The 30-14 win for Atlanta looks good on paper, and it sure looks exciting from a short-term point of view. Hey, the Falcons are still in the playoff race. After all the disappointment this season, they might be able to win a game or two in the postseason, maybe even make it to the Super Bowl!
It’s certainly not impossible, but that doesn’t help the overall problem with the franchise right now. The Falcons destroying the Saints was like putting makeup on a nasty, swollen zit. Regardless of the performance, Atlanta’s defense is still abysmal—like Swiss cheese abysmal. For the 2015 draft, they need to focus on snatching up the best possible choices to beef up their secondary.
Offensively, Atlanta is just as good as any team in the league. They put up six less total points against the Packers a few weeks ago in a shootout. Matt Ryan is one of the elites. Nothing needs to change there.
The next big issue is the coaching staff. Mike Smith needs to go, plain and simple. He’s uninspiring and doesn’t push the players to achieve the very best they can. And with back-to-back losing regular seasons, something obviously needs to change. To think they were one game away from a Super Bowl appearance in 2012… and now this.
Those players are hungry and they have the ambition. They just need a coach with a philosophy that pushes them to greatness.
I’ll be cheering if Atlanta can win the NFC South and make the playoffs, make no mistake. But I’ll also be hoping for significant changes to make the whole machine run smoothly again.

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