When the 2013 football season began, many Atlanta fans and NFL experts extolled the Atlanta Falcons aas one of the best teams in the National Football League. Some even picked the ‘Dirty Birds’ to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLVIII. What no one expected, however, was a season that so far, has included a less than welcome quantity of star-player injuries, close losses and a 1-4 record.
Injuries this season have been (and are) a big cause of concern for the Falcons. A season-ending ankle injury to stand-out receiver Julio Jones has been the biggest injury thus far, but other injuries to key players have wounded the Falcons’ anticipated high-flying offense so far this season.
Star wide-out Roddy White’s ankle and hamstring ailments have made him questionable going forward and pro-bowl running back Steven Jackson’s hamstring has kept him sidelined.
Jackson, a free-agent signing, who was expected to carry the rushing load for Atlanta, went out in week two against his former team, the St. Louis Rams. Since then, he has started back practicing and coaches are hopeful that he provides a much needed spark upon his return to the lineup in the next few weeks. They also look to have back Jackson’s replacement Jason Snelling, who is probable after a concussion suffered in week five.
As the Atlanta football team comes out of a bye week, following a 30-28 loss to the New York Jets in week five, the question for them going forward is, ‘how do we win now?’
With injuries to Jones and White, the primary receiving responsibilities will now turn to Harry Douglass, Drew Davis, and Kevin Cone, who are No. 3,4, and 5 on the depth chart, according to Yahoo Sports. The Falcons also saw fit to sign free agent receiver Brian Robiskie, son of assistant head coach Terry Robiskie, for extra depth at the position.
Needless to say, veteran leadership, too, will play an essential part if the birds plan on ‘flying right’ as they go forward. Quarterback Matt Ryan will be called upon to rally the troops on offense, along with the ageless tight-end Anthony Gonzalez. Currently Ryan ranks second in the league in passing yards per game (329.8), sixth in Quarterback Rating (100.9) and has thrown ten touchdowns to only three interceptions.
On the defensive side, Atlanta is looking for more contributions to improve a defensive that only has 11 sacks to date. Defensive end Osi Umenyiora leads the team with four sacks and will be one of the major pieces in stiffening up a loose defense, which right now measures up 25th (out of 32 teams) in points allowed and 26th in passing yards allowed per game.
If there is anything good to take from a 1-4 record, maybe it’s that in the four losses, the Falcons have loss by a combined average margin of 4.75 points. So they have managed to keep it close, but in the NFL, close isn’t good enough.
Looking to perhaps save their season, the Atlanta squad will look to take advantage of the winless (0-5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Oct. 20 at the Georgia Dome. Game time is set for 1 P.M.