Atlanta Falcons: What We Learned From the Loss in London
The Atlanta Falcons continue to tumble. A fifth straight loss – this time as time expires in London – to the Detroit Lions has open the door even wider about questions regarding an offense that looked like world beaters in the first half of the contest.
The second half was a totally different story.
Even with the issues and the losing streak that started after a 56-14 win over Tampa Bay, Falcons head coach Mike Smith is still not concerned with his job or job security.
Smith was asked Monday if he has any concerns about job security, with his team on a five-game losing streak.
"No," Smith said. "None whatsoever. We're going to do what we've done for the last six-plus years and prepare each and every week like we know how to do it. And I'm going to continue to do that until Mr. Blank tells me otherwise.''
Team owner Arthur Blank recently told ESPN.com he had confidence in both Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff to guide a turnaround and said he would wait to see how the season plays out before evaluating changes. But Blank was noticeably frustrated after Sunday's loss in London, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "There's no way you lose that game -- just no way. There's nothing else I can say."
Smith was asked if he felt a little more pressure based on Blank's public comments about the loss.
"I talk to Mr. Blank after every game and I think that those conversations do stay private,'' Smith said. "And I do agree with him. When you're up 21-0 at halftime, you should not lose that football game.''
Two seasons ago, Smith guided the Falcons to a 13-3 record and a NFC title game appearance. But in the past 24 games, the Falcons are 6-18.
Last season, injuries decimated the franchise, especially at wide receiver and on the offensive line. The Falcons have had to make many changes on the line again this season, including changes at tackle and the use of three centers so far this year.
The offensive line looked impressive against one of the NFL’s better and most improved defenses.
Here is what we learned from this weekend according to the team’s website.
- Wide Receiver Roddy White broke Terance Mathis’ (57) franchise record for career touchdown receptions with a four-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. White has caught 58 career touchdowns since being drafted by Atlanta in 2005. He also owns franchise records for receptions (713), receiving yards (9,789), 100-yard receiving games (38), and 10-catch games (11).
- White ranks second in team history with 58 total touchdowns, trailing RB Michael Turner who scored 61 times (60 rushing & one receiving) in five seasons with the Falcons. White converted the Falcons first third-down of the game on a 15-yard reception. The play was his 149th first down catch on third down since 2008. White has been the among the most reliable targets in crucial situations as no player in the NFL has posted more first down receptions on third down during that span.
- White finished the game with nine receptions for 100 yards and one touchdown. He logged his first 100-yard game of the season and his first since posting 141 yards on 12 catches at San Francisco in Week 16 of 2013. White improved his franchise record for 100-yard games to 38 with his performance on Sunday.
- In his last two games against the Ravens, White has tallied 19 catches 238 yards and three touchdowns, including a 33-yard game winning score at the Georgia Dome in 2010.
- Quarterback Matt Ryan completed 29 of 44 passes for 228 yards with one touchdown and an 86.2 passer rating. He has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 12 straight games dating back to 2013.
- Cornerback Robert Alford recorded his first interception of the season, picking off Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in the end zone and preventing the Ravens from scoring.
- Alford picked off Flacco in the end zone a second time in the second half. The second-year player out of Southeastern Louisiana is the first Falcon to post multiple interceptions in a game since safety William Moore picked off Saints quarterback Drew Brees twice on November 29, 2012. Sunday marked the 63rd time in franchise history that a Falcons player has recorded two-or-more interceptions in a game.
- Three of Alford’s four interceptions have come in the end zone as he also picked off Panthers QB Cam Newton for a touchback in 2013 (11/3/13). Alford has posted 66 tackles (51 solo) with four interceptions, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and 18 passes defensed in his career.
- Linebacker Paul Worrilow notched his first sack of the season, dragging down Flacco on a third-down play in the second quarter. Worrilow has posted three sacks in his career, including two in 2013. He was Atlanta’s leading tackler as a rookie last season, posting 137 tackles (92 solo). Worrilow joined Tommy Nobis (1966), Buddy Curry (1980), and Rick Bryan (1984) as the only rookies to lead the team in tackles and is the only undrafted rookie to lead the team in tackles.
- Worrilow finished the game with 10 tackles (three solo), one sack, one tackle for loss, and one quarterback hit. In his career, Worrilow has posted double-digit tackles in 11 games, including four games this season.
- Defensive End Jonathan Massaquoi had a strong game with six tackles (four solo), one tackle for loss, and two quarterback hits.
- Linebacker Joplo Bartu set a career high with 15 total tackles (six solo). He topped his previous best of 13 stops set against Tampa Bay in 2013.
- Wide Receiver Julio Jones continues to lead all wide receivers with 49 catches and ranks third in the NFL with 676 receiving yards this season. Jones pulled down five passes for 56 yards in Sunday’s game.