The Atlanta Falcons will travel to Houston Sunday to face the Houston Texans. Both the Texans and Falcons are coming off loses. The Falcons suffered and embarrassing loss to the Tennessee Titans at the Benz as yet again the Falcons got off to a slow start and were never able to recover. As for the Texans, they struggled getting anything going offensively against the Carolina Panthers as they were held to 10 points like the Falcons. The Texans defense had issues stopping Carolina’s running back Christian McCaffrey who ran all over the Texans defense. Texans offensive line also struggled to give Watson time as that was a big issue last season for them and for the first few games this year. Now top all that has gone wrong this season, they are heading back to the stadium where they had a super bowl go right through their hands. I only mentioned this because it will be brought up during the game on Sunday.
So what can the Falcons do to get back on track? Well first thing they have to do is not put yourself in a hole early. In Minnesota, Indianapolis, and Tennessee the Falcons at halftime trailed by at least 10 or more. The only time this season the Falcons have not trailed at halftime was against Philadelphia where they were up 10-6 at halftime. The second thing the Falcons have to do is be efficient in the red zone. This seasons offensive struggles in the red zone looks very similar to the 2017 season where they struggled, but instead of trading 7 for 3, the Falcons are turning it over or knocking themselves out of field goal range. Part of that is lack of discipline and the other part is poor execution. Matt Ryan has 4 turnovers in the red zone so far this season. 3 are interceptions and 1 is fumble which occurred last week against Tennessee.
The third thing the Falcons have to do is get a pass rush against Watson. The Texans have struggled last season and this season protecting Watson. Now granted that Watson is a mobile quarterback, he still was sacked 68 times last season. The Falcons are facing their second straight mobile quarterback. Last week was Mariota, this week it is Watson, and next week is Murray. Falcons did not sack Mariota at all last game. They did get pressure on him, but the pass rush was non-existent. This would be a good game for Vic Beasley or Takk McKinley to step up and be the pass rushers that the Falcons need you to be.
Final thing the Falcons have to do is get Devonta Freeman going. Freeman looked good against the Colts, but has been very quiet this season so far. He is a big part of the offense and Dirk Koetter has to find a way to get him going. Same goes with Calvin Ridley who has also been very quiet this season so far. Both Freeman and Ridley need to get going to help make the offense return to its high scoring ways.
Here are the injury updates for the Falcons for this week. Matt Bosher has been placed on the IR so Matt Wile who was signed and then waived then put on the practice squad has been brought back to kick so he will be the Falcons punter and kickoff specialist for a while. Right guard Jamon Brown who left last week’s game with a concussion is out for Sunday, running back Kenjon Barner is out again with a concussion, and corner Blidi Weh-Wilson is out for Sunday’s game. This means that Wes Schweitzer will be the starting right guard and the third the Falcons have used this season. He may get some snaps at center if Alex Mack doesn’t go. Demontae Kazee is questionable with an illness as he will likely be a game time decision.
There are many other things the Falcons need to do in order to beat Houston on Sunday, but these are the four biggest that they must do. This season is not close to being over, but if the Falcons continue to play the way they have been playing then it will be a long season for them and could be the last for Dan Quinn. Kickoff is at 1:00 on Fox. Follow @BirdsInTheBenz on twitter throughout the game and for all your updates on the Falcons.
By: Stewart Zwald @SDZwald041599