Three ways to fix the Patriots and Falcons

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick directs his team against the New York Jets during the third quarter of their AFC Divisional NFL playoff football game in Foxborough, January 16, 2011. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

It turned out to be a disappointing year for the two No. 1 seeds in the NFL playoffs. The Falcons were completely overmatched by a much better Packers team on Saturday night, while the Jets outplayed the Patriots on New England’s home field on Sunday.

But these two teams did a lot of good things this season, which is why they combined to win 27 games and earn the top seeds in their respective conferences. All is not lost for either of them, but the Packers and Jets proved that both Atlanta and New England must improve this offseason.

While there are more changes that certainly need to be made for both teams, below are three ways to fix the Falcons and Patriots.

1. Add more pass-rushers.
Add more pass-rushers. Wow, thanks, Anthony. Add pass-rushers? Sure thing. I’ll just hop on down to Target and pick some up. Are they still down aisle three?

I know, pass-rushers don’t fall off trees and they need time to develop. But the Patriots’ biggest concern coming into the season was their inability to rush the QB. Their lack of a pass rush wasn’t the only reason they lost on Sunday, but teams won’t win many games when they can’t get to the quarterback. They didn’t sack Mark Sanchez once and that, in part, led to him throwing three touchdown passes. If Sanchez was able to do what he did last weekend, what do you think Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler or worse yet, Aaron Rodgers would have done to the Pats had they advanced?

As for the Falcons, John Abraham and Jonathan Babineaux turned in great seasons but Kroy Biermann faded after having some early-season success. Abraham isn’t getting any younger and while Atlanta’s coaching staff has done a nice job keeping him fresh and healthy throughout the past three seasons, the Falcons need another bona fide edge rusher. The development of rookie linebacker Sean Weatherspoon should help, as should a fully healthy Peria Jerry. Backup DE Lawrence Sidbury has a ton of raw talent as well, but GM Thomas Dimitroff must add to his defensive line this offseason, whether that comes via the draft or free agency.

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

I’m just saying…the Browns selected Braylon Edwards the same year Aaron Rodgers was drafted.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) runs into the end zone past Atlanta Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton for a touchdown in the 3rd quarter during their NFC Divisional NFL playoff football game in Atlanta January 15, 2011. REUTERS/Rich Addicks (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

I haven’t done this column in a couple of weeks but after this weekend’s games, I thought it was an appropriate time to bring it back.

So here’s the latest installment of “I’m just saying…,” NFL Divisional Round-style.

– Colts fans after Nick Folk missed that chip shot field goal in the first quarter of the Jets-Patriots game on Sunday: “Oh come on!”

– After the Packers-Falcons game, I took a quick look at the stats sheet and saw that Aaron Rodgers was 31-of-36 passing for 366 yards and accounted for four touchdowns. My first reaction was: He had five incompletions?!

– Hey, when your team is up 25 points late in the third quarter and all you need to do is run some clock, why wouldn’t you call a halfback pass with Matt Forte and risk turning the ball over? You keep doing your thing, Mike Martz.

– Rex Ryan just beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady (two of the best quarterbacks in NFL history) in back-to-back weeks using two different game plans. Say what you want about his mouth, but the guy knows defense.

– If I’m a team that needs a defensive coordinator, I’m on the phone right now with Rob Ryan. I want that gene pool designing my defenses.

– Most defenders would sacrifice one of their limbs to have a free shot at Jay Cutler when he’s running with the ball towards the end zone. But instead of delivering a punishing blow, Seattle safety Earl Thomas tried to bring the quarterback down by osmosis on Cutler’s touchdown run in the second quarter on Sunday. Somewhere, Ndamukong Suh is weeping.

– Matt Ryan after the game on why he threw the sideline pass that Tramon Williams intercepted and returned for a touchdown instead of throwing the ball away: “Well, I thought if Williams was anything like our corners, he would be playing 10 yards off the ball and I’d be able to pick up an easy seven yards.”

– I know where I’ve seen Bears’ O-lineman Frank Omiyale before: he doubles as a turnstile at Halas Hall during the weekdays.

Read the rest of this entry »

Related Posts