Perhaps it’s just a setback that can be made to mean nothing by limiting mistakes. More than likely it’s the first sign of a long, long season.
The first half, admittedly, could have been worse. The offense showed tremendous improvement by moving the ball despite a off-day for Julio Jones (who, as the announcers even showed us, still has a sore ankle). 13 points were scored. And with 334 passing yards and two touchdowns, Matt Ryan seems back on track. Unfortunately, so was Jameis Winston, who absolutely shredded our defense and scored 17 points of his own. Additionally, offensive line penalties denied us 4-8 additional points while Winston was helped by our defense negating a couple 4th downs with its own penalties.
Winston kept killing it in the third quarter. While we actually applied a fair amount of pressure, it was for naught because it seemed that he couldn’t miss a big throw. Part of the reason may be because we’re counting on not one but two rookie linebackers — Deion Jones and De’vondre Campbell — to step up. This game soon came to be 31-13, Tampa Bay.
We did mount something of a comeback as our offensive line stopped committing stupid penalties and our coverage guys stopped letting guys open. Two Tampa Bay three-and-outs and Atlanta touchdowns made this a close one. Alas, our offense couldn’t get the last score to force overtime.
So congratulation to the Bucs. You really do have a good quarterback. Your defensive improvement is for real.
As for us, I am beyond pessimistic. We have a penalty-prone “O”-line, linebackers are playing like the rookies that they are, and Devonta Freeman is really looking like 2015 was a fluke, getting badly outplayed by second-string running back Tevin Coleman. All this makes for a barely competent offense and defense far worse than last year.
So what can we do moving forward? After Oakland came back from 14 underneath the Saints, don’t even think I’m optimistic about that one. The Saints are probably beating us in New Orleans. Then comes Carolina, Denver, and Seattle. This team could be win-less for a very long time.
For all the homers who will say, “we just gotta not make these kinds of mistakes,” I heard that last year when we were a team of turnover machines. It was treated as accidental even though it had been happening forever. I’m not falling for that this time.
Perhaps this team will prove me wrong. Most likely, I will end up liking posting about my Alabama Crimson Tide a Hell of lot better than posting about my Atlanta Falcons. But given how much many like ranting, I’ll understand if you disagree.