Straight from the Beek

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SFTB: Thoughts on the Falcons' offense, pass rush, scoring, Johnathan Cyprien, more

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The Falcons are out in Arizona preparing for a Sunday showdown with the Cardinals and hoping to end a three-game slide. In the meantime, you’ve got plenty to say – questions and comments. So, let’s get to them now. Just remember that all opinions here are mine unless otherwise noted.

And we’re off.

Richard from Decatur, GA
You and these other clowns here love to talk about Matt Ryan’s stats. All he do [sic] is padded [sic] his stats, making 10- to 15-yard passes on the regular, checking down dam near all game. He is the king of yac. The way to beat the birds is double-team Julio Jones, play bump and run on Sanu and Ridley off the line, stack the box to stop the run and put pressure on Matt and he gets sacred [sic] and throws short passes. He is trash.

Matt: Well it’s clear that you have it all figured out, Richard. Hopefully none of the opposing defensive coordinators will read this. Thanks for writing in.

Michael from Atlanta, GA
Good evening, sir. My question is very simple. Do you know if changing the defense was such a bad thing for the players we have? And do you think we will survive the change? Thanks.

Matt: Well, if you’re going to judge the changes based on the first five games, the reviews would be mixed. If you’re just looking at the last two or three games, you’d probably lean towards waving a red flag. There are certainly some things that need to be corrected on the back end of the defense, the pass rush and the lack of turnovers. The core of players on defense has remained the same since Dan Quinn took over, Michael. When you ask if “we will survive the change” I’m assuming you mean turn things around. While I don’t have the answer to that, I can tell you that there’s still time to get it fixed and make a run at things. There’s a lot of negativity right now on social media (and in my inbox), but all that matters is what happens on the field. Thanks for writing in.

Ellis from Atlanta, GA
Hey, Beek! Do you have any insight as to what actually happened to Johnathan Cyprien for him to be placed on IR?

Matt: I do not know the specifics as to why Johnathan Cyprien was placed on injured reserve, Ellis. All I do know at this point is that he played 24 defensive snaps against the Texans and he was coming off a knee injury (ACL) that he suffered in 2018. Cyprien follows two other safeties to IR, J.J. Wilcox and Keanu Neal.

Jay from Redan, GA
Hey, Beek. I noticed you are a big Matt Ryan fan, but he is our problem. I know you quick to throw out stats, but those stats are the direct result of being surrounded by once in a lifetime talent in Julio jones, Tony Gonzales and Co. Matt Ryan’s arm strength is a joke and looks like the players gave up on him. They looked excited for Kurt Benkert. When healthy, why not give him a chance? Can’t get any worse.

Matt: Everyone wants a scapegoat to put all the blame on because it makes them feel better, I guess. Matt Ryan is not the Falcons’ problem, Jay. Was Ryan really the problem in the second half of the Colts game, when completed 22 of 23 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns as Atlanta outscored Indy 21-7 before losing by three points? Was Ryan the problem last Sunday when he completed 32 of 46 for 330 yards and three touchdowns (and the offense scored 32 points)? And the reason he’s put up those numbers is because the Falcons have been playing from behind. When you’re trailing in games, you’re passing more and trying to score quickly. Now, has Ryan thrown some bad interceptions at times? Yes, and he’s said as much. But he has not been the problem. Maybe you should go back and watch the games, Jay. And if you still think Ryan is the problem, answer this for me: Do you really think Kurt Benkert would fare better? And you’re basing that on what again? How he performed in the first preseason game back on Aug. 1 when neither team played any starters, right? OK, just making sure.

Gary from Griffin, GA
Hey, Beek. Love your site and posts. The defense just can’t generate any push or pressure on opposing QBs. Do you think Vic Beasley needs to sit, or at least not start? He just can't get the magic back. Takk McKinley is very inconsistent and not seeing much of his promise. Without a D-line, the defense has no chance. What do think the Birds should do?

Matt: It sounds cliché, but it’s true: It all starts up front. Dan Quinn is a really smart guy and knows defense; it’s his calling card. Quinn must figure out different ways to dial up some pressure to disrupt the opposing offense. Good things happen for teams when their defense gets to the quarterbacks – sacks, fumbles, interceptions, big losses, etc. Now, whenever you bring an extra man with pressure, you’re taking a calculated risk on the back end but at this point the risk seems like it’s worth the reward.

Michael from Florida
Serious question about your real opinion about our offense and, more directly, about Dirk Koetter as our offensive coordinator. I honestly was very worried about the offense the second I heard about Dirk coming back to the Falcons. Like it was said before, we are the Bucs 2.0 and are not creative in the run game. Dirk is great for Matty Ice as a fantasy QB, but not as great for this offense as a whole.

Matt: Whenever I give responses here, I try to give some perspective. We all know that the Falcons have been outscored early in games and playing from behind a lot. That changes the game plan some, too, because you’re trying to dial up some quick-strike plays (pass) to get back into the game. That said, the Falcons have scored 24 points or more in three of their games – and only won one of those. That’s a positive to me. There are 12 teams who averaging more than 24 points a game right now – Ravens, 49ers, Patriots, Chiefs, Buccaneers, Rams, Eagles, Seahawks, Cowboys, Texans, Panthers and Lions – and only of them has a losing record (the Bucs at 2-3). I think the Falcons need to rely on their offense even more, Michael. In fact, I wrote about it in my postgame column. Look at the scores from the Falcons 2016 season, too. Look at how many close games there were – and the scores. There were a lot of shootouts that could have gone either way. The defense that year also struggled early on until Dan Quinn took over and fixed things in the second half of the season. It just seems like a logical blueprint at this point.

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