As I was listening to the breakdown on ESPN of the Atlanta Falcons this morning, a couple of things popped into my head about how to win at football.
Sometimes stating the obvious is just too difficult for the sports media talking heads. They like to analyze and then analyze again and their analyze their analyzing. They have to fill up 24 hours of cable time you know. In all this analyzing, they almost always miss the obvious point. There are really only two ways to win at football. Are you ready?
Keep the other team’s offense off the field and have more points than the other team at the end of the game. That’s it. That’s all it takes. Of course doing that takes planning and schemes and smart players and even smarter coaches. Not all NFL teams have this combination of things that enable them to do the two basics of football as mentioned before.
The Falcons showed last year that they had some of these things but not all. They showed that they had no answer for the first one when it came to team’s like the Packers. The Falcons could not keep Aaron Rogers and his offense off the field for any length of time and when they let them on the field they invariably let them score points, hence leading to the inability to complete the second thing, score more points.
The Falcons have a very good quarterback in Matt Ryan. They have some really good receivers. They even have a pretty good running back and their offensive line is pretty good. What they are not good at is the “dink and dunk” that wins games for teams like the Patriots. The Patriots for all the talk about Tom Brady are in reality a team that will 5 yard you to death or 5 yard you to death and beat you. They dink and dunk 5 yards at a time with runs and slot receivers and just enough yards to get the first down and eat up time on the clock. The Falcons don’t have that mentality or they didn’t last year. They were about trying to get big runs, trying to throw huge bombs, trying to score points instead of just working the field and running the clock and the points will come.
The next thing the Falcons didn’t have last year was a consistent defense to prevent the likes of Aaron Rogers from scoring almost at will when he was on the field for those minutes that added up to too many. They didn’t pressure him. They didn’t get the coverage on the receivers. They let him dink and dunk them and then let him bomb them into losing.
The Falcons have made some significant upgrades on defense. By doing so, specifically with the addition of Asante Samuel, the Falcons have a veteran defensive back presence and one who is smart and knows how to read routes and jump plays and play the man to man better than many in the NFL. He adds another dimension to the Falcons defense that allows them to prevent an Aaron Rogers massacre.
In the end though, there are only two ways to win at football, keep the other teams offense off the field and have more points than the other team at the end of the game. Now, the Falcons have to find the ways to accomplish those two things.