By J. Michael Moore
AtlantaFalcons.com Managing Editor
Atlanta Falcons, welcome back to the classroom.
A big Week 1 win had the Falcons feeling good over the weekend. That is until a rough outing in Tampa Bay ended in a 24-9 defeat and a trip back to the harsh realities of the NFL.
Head Coach Mike Smith reviewed the film with his team and staff on Monday and is prepared to chart a clear course for improvement.
"We got an opportunity to watch the tape and there were some things I was encouraged about," Smith said. "Our team fought hard the entire football game... But I'd also say there are a lot of things we've got to get corrected. We have to start faster."
Two Matt Ryan interceptions led to 10 Buccaneer points. A 20 percent success rate on third down in the first half put the Falcons in a big hole. Special teams penalties also affected field position with the Birds starting drives at their own 11-, 9-, 16- and 17-yard line in the game.
Ryan, who has been praised for his ability to quickly process mistakes, is ready to move on.
"I got in a little early this morning and looked at the tape," Ryan said. "I just made some decisions that weren't very good."
His teammates support his efforts and saw his ability to right the ship in the midst of the game. He may have misfired on his first nine passes but on one scoring drive he completed six of seven throws for more than 60 yards. At one point in the fourth quarter the Falcons were just one score from a tie game.
"We knew there were going to be bumps along the way," starting center Todd McClure said. "So, we're going to watch film and learn from this."
Perhaps the biggest learning opportunity comes from the team's stalls in the red zone: three trips, three field goals.
"Our red zone efficiency was not good," Smith said. "We were down there three times and not able to put the ball in the end zone. I think Matt will continue to get better. I thought Matt, overall, did some good things, especially there in the second half...
"Every week for this young football team guys are going to learn: Players, coaches, we're going to learn a lot about each other every week."
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008
By J. Michael Moore