By Dave Choate
Another week, another game, another mix of optimism and brutal pessimism to deal with. This week, against a Buccaneers team long on weapons and short on defense, the reasons to feel confident and worry are pretty obvious ones, as I think you’ll agree. Let’s get to it.
The Falcons may have trouble with pass rushes all year. Fortunately, this week they draw the Buccaneers, led by Mike “A Pass Rush Is Optional” Smith.
It’s always possible Tampa Bay causes some problems for Atlanta—they have the talent up front to cause at least mild havoc—but we’re all familiar with the unique challenges of a Smitty pass rush, and the Bucs have done virtually nothing this year to erase that stigma. The entire defense is a turnstile right now, with Julio Jones matching up against completely overmatched cornerbacks, but it’s the prospect of Matt Ryan with time in the pocket that makes me think the offense is headed for a big day.
This is the case every week, isn’t it? It takes on special significance this week, however.
In five career games against the Falcons, Jameis Winston is 3-2, but that belies how well he’s played. He’s completed nearly 67% of his passes, which is well above his career average, and has 12 touchdowns compared to just two interceptions. Those twelve touchdowns are double his career high against any other team, and the Falcons genuinely have not had a pass defense this bad in a little...