Questions about officiating, the Falcons' final record, the defense, running game, injuries

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Welcome to Straight from the 'Beek! The Falcons are coming off an important win over the Giants on "Monday Night Football" and currently enjoying their bye week. In the meantime, you've got plenty of questions. So, let's get right to them. Just remember that all opinions here are mine unless otherwise noted.

And we're off.

Mike from Fayetteville, NC
Hey Beek, longtime Falcons fan going back to growing up in Atlanta and my family being original season ticket holders in 1966. I enjoy your columns, too, which are more detailed and honest than most team-based blogs. I'm loving seeing the Falcons fight back from the injuries and early season hole in the record. My question is very simple: why was Julio Jones' fumble ruled a fumble in the last game? From everything I could see on TV, the ball didn't come fully loose until he and it hit the ground. It was ruled incomplete on the field. The Giants challenged that and it was ruled a catch and a fumble, with the Giants recovering. I was wondering if the Falcons should have challenged the revised ruling, claiming that it was a catch but not a fumble. Also, if it is ruled incomplete and the whistle blows the play dead, that tells the Falcons there is no need to try to recover the ball. It should have been dead there. If you have any further insight into the ruling, please explain. If the Falcons keep the ball and momentum at that point, the win would have likely been by a larger point spread. As it is, the Falcons beat the Giants much worse than the score indicated. The Giants scored eight points in the final 10 seconds to make it look close, but that was a total non-factor in the outcome. Thanks for any insight you can give.

Matt: Hey, Mike. Always good to hear from someone back in Fayetteville – I once worked at The Fayetteville Observer and our family has some nice memories from there in the Cape Fear region. Regarding the play you're referring to, Mike, the officials ruled that Julio Jones caught the ball, had possession, made a football move (he ran with it) and then fumbled it (actually looked like it was stripped), where the Giants recovered at the 20. Yes, it was originally ruled as an incomplete pass but reversed after further review. Once it was ruled a catch (and a run), they determined that Jones then fumbled it. There's a clip below (added bonus if you speak Spanish). A crazy scenario, indeed, but it made sense to me. Hope that makes sense.

Clint from Evans, GA
Beek, I am glad we won, but I am not excited like my fellow BEEKERS! We beat a team that is a little bit worse than we are. As a matter of fact, I thought it would have been an easier victory than the last-minute nail-biter. Case in point, looking ahead at our schedule and this is based on everyone playing like they are playing today, we will be lucky to finish 2-5 with the last two games a toss-up. I see us beating the Browns and Cardinals, a toss-up with the Panthers and Bucs and losing the other five games – Skins, Cowboys, Saints, Ravens and the Packers! Your thoughts?

Matt: Well, Clint, anything is possible. So by "toss-up" you're saying that the Falcons could finish the final nine games with either a 2-7 or 4-5 record. That would translate into a 5-11 or 7-9 overall record – and neither would be good enough to make the playoffs. Again, that's possible. No one really anticipated the Falcons being 3-4 after seven games back in August – or being hit so hard with injuries. I think the Falcons got the Giants' best punch on Monday night; they were a desperate team and knew that their season was hanging by a thread – yet the Falcons won. Go back and look at the Giants schedule and you'll see that they've lost a few very close games to some decent teams. That's life in the NFL, Clint. After the bye, Atlanta must go on the road in back-to-back weeks – to Washington and Cleveland. That's never easy, but both are winnable. If the Falcons can return home with a 5-4 record, they'll get Deion Jones back (at least that's the expectation right now) and take on the Cowboys with a chance to go to 6-4. That's realistic, and I'm sticking to it.

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Ruben from Marion, OH
Hey Beek, still lovin' SFTB. Keep up the awesomeness. My reason for writing in though: Desmond Trufant just doesn't seem to be the same guy this year. In the last couple of games, it seems like he has struggled somewhat in man-to-man. Not only that, it seems to me like he is playing with less fire this year. I remember a play from Monday night where there was a missed tackle and Tru was right there in the vicinity and he let the guy run right by him. Not only did he not try to make the tackle, but it looked to me like he didn't even try to pursue the ball carrier. Would love your thoughts on this. Thanks, Beek for all you do.

Matt: Hi, Ruben. Well I hope you're still loving SFTB! Sheesh. Haha, thanks man. I wish you could've been a little bit more specific with that play description – a quarter or a score so I could go find that play without re-watching the entire game. Regardless, I can tell you that the entire back end of the Falcons defense has struggled through seven games, not just Desmond Trufant. For some perspective, the Falcons' defense is currently ranked 30th in the league in total yards surrendered (419.4 per game) and 30st in total points per game (30.3). The latter stat is more important, but they're both poor rankings – and you can't put it all on one player. Everyone has contributed, and I'll leave it at that.

Diego from Statham, GA
Well, we're 3-4 while being injury-plagued, Beek. I'm very proud of these guys! My question is, do you think we will make any small trades to improve the roster depth, or just sign more free agents?

Matt: I was asked about some trades yesterday and, to be honest, I'd be very surprised if the Falcons made a trade at this point – mainly because I know how much they like their core guys (some of whom are injured right now). A trade would require a corresponding roster move and have salary cap implications. While it would not surprise me at all if they went out and signed someone off another team's practice squad, a major or blockbuster deal before the Oct. 30 deadline would. Although anything is possible, Diego! Stay tuned.

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Scott from Sugar Hill, GA
Hello Beek!!! I've been reading the SFTB for quite some time and I really enjoy all the great questions and your candid responses. One thing that's been bothering me all season has been our O-line play. We haven't produced and effective run game all season. Our passing attack has been stellar, but it would be twice as good if we had a good run game as well. I put that firmly on the O-line. We also need to protect Matt Ryan as well. He's been on the turf way too often this season. I did see the moves announced Tuesday, but I don't really see any of that as a fix. With the Brandon Fusco injury how will this be fixed? I believe the situation has gone from bad to worse.

Matt: Hey there, Scott. Thanks for reading and appreciate the question. I've been saying it a lot more frequently over the past few weeks, too – the Falcons must get the run game going, especially with all of these injuries piling up on defense. While the passing game has been lights out, the ground game has not. The Falcons have only had a runner eclipse the 100-yard mark once this season – and it was during a Week 2 win over the Panthers. Running the ball effectively not only keeps the opposing defense honest, it wears them down. And if you have a lead, it eats the game clock – and keeps your defense on the sideline, rested and fresh(er). The Falcons defense, which has been decimated by injuries this season, needs all the help it can get – and an effective running game would certainly qualify. Now, how do you fix it? Great question. Someone is going to need to step up and fill Brandon Fusco's void. We talked about it some right here on the Falcons Audible podcast Tuesday – give it a listen or watch it here. Running is a mentality, too, Scott. It's technique, hustle, and beating guys to the point of attack. The Falcons just need to do a better job of it – and they'll be the first ones to tell you that.

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Duvall from Fayetteville, NC
Will Atlanta look into the Patrick Peterson situation?

Matt: I'm sure general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn discuss every single option and scenario, Duvall. But, as I noted above, I just do not see them making any sort blockbuster trade or major move right now. They really believe in the guys they have – injured players definitely included here – and know that any sort of trade would require a corresponding roster move, have salary cap ramifications and possibly affect the number of draft picks they have. That's a lot to consider, but they are. I just see them sticking to their plan and trying to keep this thing going until they can get some players back healthy.

Gabor from Budapest, Hungary
Do you know Vic Ketchman? Do you have a good story about him?

Matt: Hey, Gabor. I don't know Vic personally, but I've heard of him. And that was … random.

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Philip from Covington, GA
I am not a believer in bad mojo, curses, or such. But with Brandon Fusco out, I must officially say, "GOOD GRIEF." Is the devil on our backs here? The Falcons need to immediately hire a Director of Voodo or Minister of Magic to put an end to this. The math does not add up. How can these many injuries keep happening? May I suggest we bubble wrap the guys we plan to have around next year and just keep them on the sideline. The worst part of it all is there is no one to blame. Could you please provide us all with a scapegoat? Where was the head of concessions when all this was going on? Whose responsible for picking out the gameday socks. Let's just say it's his/her fault.

Matt: Ha! I'm definitely not making light of any of the injuries, but your take gave me a chuckle and is appreciated, Philip! I'm pretty sure I know who puts out the gameday socks but I'd hate to place all the blame there! I'm not sure if bubble wrap falls under league guidelines, but I'll look into it. Thanks for writing in, and I'm pretty sure Falcons fans everywhere feel your pain. On that note, we'll call it a wrap. Pun intended.

Got a question? If there is something you want to ask or comment about, submit it right here.

Be sure to catch Matt Tabeek, D.J. Shockley and Dave Archer every Monday afternoon on Falcons Audible podcast. Listen and subscribe to it on iTunes, Google Play or watch it here on AtlantaFalcons.com.

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