Tale Of The Tape: Atlanta Falcons At Arizona Cardinals
- QuarterbackIt’s been a tough season for the Falcons and they have a long way to go before they turn it around. However, Matt Ryan seemed to relax in Week Seven against the Tampa Bay Bucs even though he was without Julio Jones and Roddy White, his two best weapons. Ryan looked sharp and his passes were accurate and he looked like he belonged in a class with the game’s elite quarterbacks.The Cardinals are going to struggle much of the time because Carson Palmer makes a lot of mistakes. He’s smart, tough and a warrior who will hang in the pocket under pressure, but he’s not a very accurate passer at this point in his career. He has thrown 13 interceptions and that’s why the Cardinals have a tough time winning games against top-echelon teams.
- OffenseThe Falcons could have hung their heads when they found out they had to play without Jones and White, but head coach Mike Smith rallied his team. The Falcons are going to ask running back Jacquizz Rodgers to do the job on the ground and as a receiver. Harry Douglas filled in well for the two injured receivers and made plays all over the field. Tony Gonzalez is still a solid pass-catching tight end.The Cardinals have been very disappointed in their running game, and that’s an area they are sure to address in the offseason, if not sooner. Rashard Mendenhall has been a liability in that area. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is hurt badly by the lack of the running game, but Michael Floyd has played up to expectations. Both receivers have caught 32 passes.
- DefenseThe Falcons have struggled on the defensive side of the ball as they rank 19th in yards allowed. The big problem for this team is its lack of size and strength. They can often be pushed around and off the ball. Safety William Moore leads the team with 34 tackles and he also has five passes defensed and an interception. Defensive end Osi Umenyiora leads the Falcons with 4.0 sacks.The Cardinals hustle and play hard on the defensive end and rank 16th in yards allowed. Middle linebacker Karlos Dansby is often in the middle of most plays and he leads the team with 62 tackles and 10 passes defensed. The Cardinals have gotten a lift from athletic rookie free safety Tyrann Mathieu, who is second on the team with 42 tackles.
- Special TeamsThe Falcons are somewhat disappointed that their return game has not broken a big play. Douglas and Rodgers both have had success in that area in the past. Matt Bryant is one of the most dependable placekickers, having made 9-of-10 FG attempts.The Cardinals have big-time talent in their return game with Javier Arenas and Patrick Peterson, but neither man has gotten loose to this point in the season. Jay Feely has a strong leg and has made 23-of-13 FG attempts. Dave Zastudil is a fine directional punter.
The Falcons have been one of the most disappointing teams in the league and a win over the Tampa Bay Bucs does not mean they have turned things around. However, Ryan looked much better in that game and he’ll try to continue his success against the Cardinals. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor