Your 1-4 Atlanta Falcons are hosting a winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers team this Sunday at 1 PM. These Bucs are in so much disarray I don't even know where I would start. Tampa is on the road, starting a midround rookie at quarterback, half the team seems to have a staph infection, the head coach is under criticism for potentially leaking information about their former quarterback Josh Freeman, and probably plenty of other stuff, but I am struggling to feel confident about this game.
Man, are we injured. Yesterday we got news of who didn't practice.
Atlanta is missing a lot of offense. It would have been great to see the healthy combination of Matt Ryan, Steven Jackson, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White, but that will never happen. Maybe in a few more weeks we can see everyone but Julio, but there will still be a struggling offensive line. Our offense has been Jones and Gonzalez, and now the Krazy Glue that held together Julio's ankle came loose and he is gone for the season.
Simply put, Dirk Koetter needs to put together a solid game plan and Atlanta needs some wide receivers to step up. Tampa is allowing only 3.8 yards per carry and about 20 points per game, both good for top 10 in the league. Tampa's solid, if unspectacular defense, has a lot of underrated talent.
Popular opinion is that Darrelle Revis with cover Harry Douglas, meaning Tony Gonzalez will see doubles (not that that seems to bother Tony), but this would be a great day for Drew Davis or Kevin Cone to show they deserve a roster spot by beating the soft, single coverage they are going to get. Levine Toilolo another player who could shine on Sunday.
Man, is our defense bad. But how bad? Atlanta is allowing almost half a yard more per carry and more than and six more points a game than Tampa.
Atlanta has struggled to pressure the quarterback, like usual, and our coverage, especially at the nickel position, has been bad. New Bucs QB Mike Glennon isn't spectacular, but neither was Geno Smith prior to playing Atlanta. Glennon has shown an ability to throw at Vincent Jackson, which really should be the extent of their offense. Mike Williams is expected to return as well.
Atlanta defenses have been great to slump bust struggling offensive players. Doug Martin has 1 TD and 3.5 YPC this year but based on my past experience with the Falcons, should run for season highs in touchdowns and yards. We managed well against Martin last year and the Tampa guards are hobbled or out and I would hope Mike Nolan tries to shut down the run and make Mike Glennon beat us.
So, what happens? Both teams are in such disarray that it is difficult to tell. Roddy White added another injury on to his unending high ankle sprain and is not expected to play. Atlanta is short six players who were expected to start on this offense (if we count Mike Johnson) and has a lot of rookies starting on defense.
Losing this game ensures this season is over, as our team likely won't pull it together if they cannot beat a winless Buccaneers team at home. This is a game where coaching and leadership will bring us a win because our talent is stuck on the trainer's table.