Atlanta head coach Mike Smith was blunt in his assessment of where his team sits heading into Sunday’s contest with Seattle, with the Falcons at a surprising 1-2.
“We’re not playing very consistent football right now,” Smith said. “And I would say it’s probably most noticeable on our offense, but really as a football team we have not played consistent football in the first three weeks – offensively, defensively and special teams.
“I’ll give you an example. All of last year we had seven penalties on special teams, and through three games we’ve got seven penalties. And we’re doing some very uncharacteristic things across the board.”
The Falcons have allowed Matt Ryan to be sacked 13 times, and hit 21 times this season. Only Seattle and Chicago have given up more sacks, at 14 apiece. Ryan was only sacked 23 times total all of last season.
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Atlanta has a -2 turnover ratio and has turned the ball over eight times in three games.
Atlanta has 23 penalties so far this season. They only had 58 penalties the entire season last year. And defensively the Falcons are allowing 112 rushing yards a contest.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan said the pass protection issue is not just on the offensive line, but the entire team.
“We’re going to work to find our best guys at every position, and we do that every week, Ryan said. “I think our guys are doing a good job of working hard and preparing as best we can. And whoever is out there on Sunday I’m sure will do a great job for us.”
And Smith agreed.
“Oftentimes there’s more to than a simple answer of when you’re not protecting the passer it’s the offensive line’s fault,” Smith said. “To you really know the protections schemes and how things are supposed to align, everybody is responsible in terms of protection of our quarterback. It could be the wide receivers in terms of if they are not breaking off routes. It could be the backs. And it could be the quarterback.
“So when we say we’re not protecting the quarterback, we’re not singling out our offensive line.”
Smith gave us a quick scouting report of what he expects to see from the Seahawks on Sunday.
“On the offensive side of the ball it doesn’t have the same tinge at all in terms of the personnel,” Smith said. “Of course they got a new quarterback, a new wide receiver. The offensive line has been reworked. There’s only one player that we faced last year.
“And you’re seeing I think a very athletic quarterback that’s starting to get comfortable in the new scheme. I think he really felt comfortable in last week’s game against the Cardinals having Sidney Rice in there. Sidney is an outstanding receiver. There’s some familiarity. They both were on the same team prior to coming to Seattle.
“And it’s very young, athletic offensive line. And Marshawn Lynch is a guy you don’t want to let get going in the run game, because he is a powerful, strong running back.”
And how do they look defensively?
“They’ve got some very talented player up front,” Smith said. “I think that’s the strength of their group. Chris Clemons is an outstanding pass rusher. You’ve always got to be aware of where he is aligned. And I think they do a good job with their rotation, with Raheem Brock. They’re playing Red Bryant on first and second down. And they’ve added Tony Hargrove, who plays inside and outside, and you’ve got two big defensive tackles in big Alan Branch and Brandon Mebane.
“And then the two guys you have to be aware of in their secondary is Marcus Trufant and (Earl) Thomas. Both of those guys I think can make game-changing plays. Earl’s got great speed for a safety, probably one of the fastest safeties in the league. And Coach Carroll I think does a great job with his defense schematically each and every week in terms of how they’re going to try and attack you.”