First Quarter: Playing Without Ryan

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It looks like the question for this game for the Falcons will be if Matt Ryan is able to return and, if he cannot, can Chris Redman defeat Tampa Bay?

So far, Redman looks good, despite the Falcons' difficulty in protecting their quarterbacks. Tampa Bay had two sacks in the quarter, which is the reason why Redman is in the game in the first place. Ryan was injured when he was sacked by Tim Crowder and Stylez G. White (is there a better name in the NFL)? Redman has completed 2 of 3 attempts for 28 yards with no interceptions and no touchdowns in the scoreless game. The one incompletion was a nice defensive play by Tampa Bay's veteran cornerback Ronde Barber.

Remember, the Bucs have the NFL's 14th ranked pass defense, which isn't bad, considering its run defense is the worst in the NFL. Which brings us to...

If Tampa Bay has the NFL's worst run defense, then why are they having so much success so far against the Falcons? In the quarter, Turner had runs for minus-6 and 2 two yards and Jerious Norwood had one for minus-1. That's three tackles for loss in one quarter by the 32nd-ranked run defense? I'd imagine that Falcons offensive line coach Paul Boudreau is going to light a fire under his charges.

A few other thoughts:

Tampa had four returning starters on its offensive line from last year and they did an excellent job run blocking on the Bucs' first drive, which went from their 7 yard line and gained four first downs before punting after reaching the Falcons' half of the field. *

That drive included one poor third-down conversion allowed by the Falcons. Tampa Bay converted third-and-7 from its 7. That's a wasted opportunity for good field position. *


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