Tale Of The Tape: Atlanta Falcons At Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- QuarterbackThe Falcons appear to be in a deep funk for the second consecutive year, and it seems unlikely they will turn things around under the current regime. While Matt Ryan is one of the game’s most accurate passers when he gets time from his offensive line, the Falcons just can’t finish the job and close out opponents. Ryan is not at his best when he is under pressure.The Bucs played one of their better efforts in their Week Nine loss in Cleveland, as they nearly found a way to upset the Browns. Mike Glennon does not have the supporting cast to bring the Bucs many victories on the road, but he is big, strong, athletic and moderately accurate. However, he is still learning how to read defenses and lacks consistency.
- OffenseThe Falcons have the weapons to light up the scoreboard and they did just that the first time that they played the Bucs this year. Wide receiver Julio Jones has been one of the top big-play receivers through the years and has caught 53 passes this year, but has not been as consistent as you would expect. Roddy White is slowing down a bit, and running back Steven Jackson lacks the power he once had.Backup running back Bobby Rainey has gotten the job done when starter Doug Martin has missed time due to injuries. He had 87 yards on 19 carries against Cleveland and also had 34 receiving yards. While Rainey plays hard every time he steps on the field, big-play specialist Vincent Jackson appears to be rather uninspired this season. The development of rookie wideout Mike Evans has been a positive.
- DefenseThe Falcons have been simply awful this season on defense, and that’s not likely to change because they lack size and strength and generally get pushed around. They rank 31st overall and 30th against the pass. Outside linebacker Prince Shembo has decent speed and can track plays down from behind, while middle linebacker Paul Worrilow is a hard worker who plays with effort.Lovie Smith knew the Bucs were going to have issues on offense this season, but he expected the defense to play much better than it has this season. They rank dead last in yards allowed this season, and that’s got to be embarrassing for the head coach. Linebacker Lavonte David is a hard worker who will sacrifice his body to make key plays, but the Bucs don’t put enough pressure on the passer.
- Special TeamsIf the Falcons have a chance to win games in the second half of the season, it will likely be the result of their special-teams play. Devin Hester is still an instinctive returner who can break any game open. Placekicker Matt Bryant has a strong leg and is quite accurate.The Bucs have issues covering punts and kickoffs and they were burned by Hester in their earlier loss to the Falcons. Solomon Patton is a decent return man who has good speed and could return a long one. Patrick Murray is an ordinary placekicker and is unproven in pressure situations.
The Bucs got blown out 56-14 in Week Three at Atlanta, and they would like a little payback from that humiliation. The Falcons have not shown any defensive strength, and if the Falcons can get off to a decent start, they have a chance to earn their second win of the season. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports