On Sunday, the Falcons will match up against the New Orlean Saints under a new ‘interim’ head coach, Raheem Morris. After starting the season at 0-5, the Falcons have turned around and gone 3-1 under Morris.
Ahead of their Sunday outing, Saints coach Sean Payton commented on Atlanta’s newfound energy.
“Well, look, anytime there is a big change like that, there is renewed energy”, Payton said via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Clearly, when you look at the early part of the schedule, so many of those games that come down to a play, maybe two plays each. With the Detroit game, they could very easily be 4-0 since the change. That’s the nature of our league. They are playing fast. They are playing aggressive and with confidence. You feel that on the film.”
Falcons Could Be 4-0 Under Morris
Payton has a point. The Falcons could and certainly should be 4-0 under Morris. The game that held them back is the one where Todd Gurley accidentally scored instead of running the clock out against the Lions.
Atlanta’s plan the whole time was to run the clock out, of course, when they lined up for a first-and-goal at Detroit’s 10-yard line. There was just over a minute left in the game and Atlanta was trailing 16-14.
Matt Ryan gave Gurley the ball and he broke through the tackles, remembering Atlanta’s plan a few steps too late, and scored a touchdown.
With just enough time left, Detroit drove the ball 75 yards to score the game-winning touchdown on an 11-yard pass in the air from Matthew Stafford to T.J. Hockenson.
“I was mad as hell,” Gurley told reporters after the game. “I was trying not to, my momentum took me in. It’s kind of crazy, the last time I played Detroit, I went down and this time I end up scoring. It’s like, what goes around comes around.”
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Morris Takes Advantage of Falcons Bye Week
The Falcons are coming off a bye week and Morris really honed in on the mistakes the Falcons defense has been making.
He plans on eliminating the moments where the Falcons have struggled at the two-minute mark when trailing behind or letting opponents catch up to them.
For example, Atlanta let the Cowboys score 10 points with less than two minutes remaining to win. They also let the Bears and Lions do the same.
“When you’re talking about defense, you just want to talk about how you get better at owning those moments in the two-minute, catch-up type of ball,” Morris said via Atlanta Falcons website. “Those are the moments that have hurt us the most in the beginning half of the season, so those are the moments we want to improve on and get better at and getting after the passer. If we can get those things corrected in those two phases, that’s something we’d be really jacked up about.”
Falcons Could Have Big Advantage
The Saints enter this matchup without starting quarterback Drew Brees who suffered a brutal hit last week that broke his ribs. Right now, he’s only supposed to miss two games, but he could be out for three. The Falcons and Saints matchup twice within a three-week time span.
The would mean, Brees would be out for both matchups against Atlanta. Backup QB Jameis Winston will most likely slide into the starting role. That will be the former No. 1 pick’s first start with the Saints. Winston is no stranger to Atlanta as they faced him in a Tampa Bay uniform when he was a turnover disaster.
Where the Saints’ best weapon lies is in running back Alvin Kamara, who has been the real star of the show with 1,134 yards and 11 total touchdowns through nine games. Kamara did not practice Thursday and could be outcome Sunday. If so, the Falcons have a nice advantage to win without both Brees and Kamara.
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