Fans are quick to list one or two reasons why they say the Falcons are losing. It’s a little more complex than that. In no particular order…
10. Injuries to Key Personnel. Every team has injuries, and Atlanta has been hit as hard as anyone. Jets fans are laughing, regarding the oft-injured John Abraham signing. TE Algie Crumpler has aches and pains, and long gone is WR Brian Finneran…one of Vick’s favorite targets. Rookie RB Jerious Norwood. But the Ravens had almost as many, includind a guy named Lewis…and are what, 8 – 2?
9. Coaching Staff. Fans are more ready to fire the coaches than blame higher paid players. Should coaches have to motivate NFL players? Game plans are another matter. Greg Knapp’s scripted plays gained an average over 4 yards per play, but later unscripted plays averaged much less. Once the number one rushing team in the league, now Knapp wants to throw. To placate the QB’s feelings? Keep Mora, fire Knapp.
8. Receivers drop passes. Some say it’s Vick’s fault, that he throws too hard. Excuse? Finneran could catch Vick’s passes. They’re not all bazooka shots. Still, there’s blame to spread around here.
7. Vick’s Leadership Skills. How many other successful QB’s sit alone on the bench? Sure he’s tired and takes a beating…perhaps more than any other QB (17 hits from Raven defenders). But the nature of the position demands a leader…the toughest position in sports for a reason. Which brings us to…
6. Vick’s Lifetime Contract. Might as well play him, since Blank is paying him all that money…right? Peachtree Bart was benched, and it made him a much better QB. Is it political? Do they play Vick to keep the fans happy? I hope Mora has a deal with Blank to keep his job.
5. Offensive Line. Draft picks are spent on WRs and DBs instead of protecting Vick, who continues to get hit and sacked.
4. GM Rich McKay. Many say it’s folly to use first round picks on WRs (unless you’re Calvin Johnson)...that receivers picked in later rounds can be just as productive. Hey, that’s the way most fantasy drafts work.
3. Vick’s Fumbles. QBs fumble more than any other position, mostly due to blindside hits. UGA freshman Matthew Stafford broke into the open against Auburn, didn’t protect the ball, and had it knocked loose. Later in the game he was running with both hands on the ball. If Stafford can learn, why can’t Vick? Many of his fumbles have come when he took off on scrambles.
2. The Defense has to do too much. It’s hard to win when you’re averaging 12 points a game. A defense already worn thin from injury is asked to pick up an offense that just threw an interception or fumbled, giving the opponent excellent field position. When this happens over and over, cracks appear in the dam.
1. Players giving less than their maximum effort. I’m sure tackling Jamal Lewis isn’t fun. But pay me the NFL minimum and I’ll do my best. Losing to bottom-dwellers like Detroit and Cleveland should be embarrassing, but after the game players laugh and joke around instead of being mad at themselves. Being old school, this baffles me.