ATLANTA – Both the Atlanta Falcons and the Houston Texans are coming off home losses and neither team – nor their fan bases – are very happy right now.
The Falcons (1-3) fell to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The Texans (2-2) lost to the Carolina Panthers.
While Matt Ryan is rolling up the yardage, the Falcons are having trouble scoring points. Ryan, who said that he wants the Falcons to be a scoring machine, ranks second in the NFL right now with 1,325 passing yards. Unfortunately, Atlanta is currently tied for 25th in the league averaging 17.5 points per game.
The Falcons also surrendered a season-high five sacks in the loss to the Titans. Ryan was also hit 12 times. That's not a good sign considering Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus leads the league in quarterback hits with six and also has four forced fumbles. Mercilus has tallied five sacks and three tackles for a loss.
And then there's the defensive side of the ball, and there's more on that below. I asked AtlantaFalcons.com writers Kelsey Conway and Will McFadden to weigh in and what the Falcons will need to do in order to earn their second win of the season. I'll offer my key to victory at the end.
What the Texans are saying about the Falcons
Kelsey Conway: Get pressure on Deshaun Watson. The Falcons recorded zero sacks against Marcus Mariota and didn't get enough pressure on him consistently. This will have to change against the Texans with Watson at quarterback. Watson has the ability to extend plays with his feet and if he's able to pick a part Atlanta's defense with not much pressure in his face, it could be a long day for the Falcons. Carolina proved last week by sacking Watson five times, affecting Watson is the key to beating the Texans.
Will McFadden: Avoid the big mistake on defense. It may not feel like it, but on a play-by-play basis this season the Falcons' defense hasn't been that bad. What they've had a problem with is giving up the big play a few times a game or committing a costly penalty at a crucial time. If Atlanta's defense makes Houston earn every yard they get on Sunday, I don't think the Falcons will ever be out of it. If they give up more 50-yard pass plays, and the Texans can hit those, it could be a long day.
Tabeek's Take: Conway and McFadden are certainly not wrong with their assessments. I agree with both of them – 100 percent. But … the Falcons have a high-powered offense led by some of the very best at their respective positions in Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu, Austin Hooper and Devonta Freeman. It's time to uncork this thing and not only move the ball, but score – lots and lots of points. That's why the Falcons made some of those offseason changes; they brought Dirk Koetter back in here to command this offense.
"I want to score points," Ryan said. "Whatever we have to do to score points, run the football, throw the football, find ways to get it done. It's about being a point scoring machine. We have not been that, we haven't done a good enough job of that up until this point."
Now it's time.
The defensive backs are hard at work with a new addition, Johnathan Cyprien. Take a look at their workout and more in this gallery, presented by Quikrete.