Rapid Reaction: Atlanta Falcons
November, 10, 2013
By Vaughn McClure | ESPN.com
ATLANTA -- A few thoughts after the Atlanta Falcons' 33-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at the Georgia Dome:
What it means: It's still hard to imagine that a Falcons team picked by many to be the NFC's No. 1 seed is looking at a 2-7 record. Most figured the Falcons would be overmatched by the powerful Seahawks, but no one could imagine the Falcons being manhandled at home. Folks are sure to start questioning head coach Mike Smith's future despite his tremendous success since taking over the team. The remainder of the season should be an audition for the young players who might make an impact for years to come.
Stock watch: Running back Steven Jackson was supposed to make a great impact for the Falcons after coming over from the St. Louis Rams. Instead, Jackson has struggled to catch his stride, in part, due to a hamstring injury. The Falcons needed Jackson to provide balance on Sunday. Instead, he came out and picked up just 14 yards on his first seven carries. In fact, the Falcons' best run option in the first half was a scrambling Matt Ryan. That should never happen, and Jackson should take that personally. He needs to be better, although the offensive line doesn't help his cause.
Back in action: Wide receiver Roddy White, sidelined for the past three games with hamstring and ankle injuries, returned to the lineup Sunday but had little impact as the offense struggled. White had a 20-yard catch down the middle in the first half. But the most fireworks he sparked was a confrontation with nemesis Richard Sherman, during which White slap-boxed with Sherman for a few moments. Again, it was hard for White to get involved with the offense struggling and Ryan under duress most of the day. Ryan couldn't go deep most the game thanks to the pressure in his face.
Big letdown: The Falcons' defense just hasn't learned. Once again, it gave up a number of big, explosive plays, including a 43-yard touchdown from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse off a flea-flicker from running back Marshawn Lynch. Lynch had a 37-yard run of his own on his way to a 100-yard day, while the Seahawks also had a 46-yard pass play. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is no doubt pulling his hair out weekly. Maybe the return of linebacker Sean Weatherspoon from injured reserve next week will help the defense. But it's a little too late.
What's next: The Falcons travel to Tampa Bay to face the winless Buccaneers, one of two teams the Falcons beat this season, along with the Rams. In Week 7, the Falcons escaped with a 31-23 win while facing rookie quarterback Mike Glennon. But the Buccaneers showed in an overtime loss the Seahawks that they can be competitive. The Buccaneers next face the Dolphins on "Monday Night Football."