What do these three teams have in common? Atlanta lost to each of them in their first playoff game three out of the last four seasons.
In 2008, Atlanta and rookie Matt Ryan lost on the road to an Arizona team that went on lose a closely contested Super Bowl to Pittsburg. Two years later, Atlanta coughed up home field advantage in embarrassing fashion to Green Bay who later went on to defeat Pittsburg in Super Bowl XLV. This year the Falcons went on the road to NY and were manhandled by the Giants, who were just anointed Super Bowl XLVI Champions.
Not that it makes me feel any better, but at least the Falcons can say that in each of their playoff appearances in the Ryan / Coach Mike Smith era, they were beaten by Super Bowl quality teams.
The Falcons could learn a thing or two from the Giants’ approach on defense:
10. The Giants’ four-man pass-rush is exceptional: Give New York credit for having an organizational philosophy that says, “You can never have enough great pass-rushers.” From Tuck to Jason Pierre-Paul to Osi Umenyiora to Mathias Kiwanuka, the Giants just keep coming. Pierre-Paul is not only a great pass-rusher, but he’s one of the best in the league at deflecting passes at the line of scrimmage. He batted down two of Brady’s passes Sunday night. As a group, the Giants sacked Brady twice (both by Tuck), hit him eight times and forced him into throwing several errant, rushed passes.
Before the Falcons worry too much over a new open air stadium with a retractable roof, I suggest that the front office and coaching staff figure out how to put together a defensive line that can sniff at least a smidgen of a pass rush, and build an offensive line that can actually convert on fourth and one.