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How have the Falcons changed since losing to the Buccaneers?

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We talked to Dave Choate of The Falcoholic about the Atlanta Falcons' troubles since last playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He sounds optimistic, despite the team losing four games in a row.

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When the Falcons and Buccaneers last met, the Falcons were fresh off their first loss of the season. Now they've dropped four in a row, are almost at .500, and need a win against Tampa Bay just to keep the season afloat for another week. What changed?

Actually, not a lot. As it turns out, the Falcons' team you saw a month ago was essentially the team they were becoming, one that has a good enough defense to keep Atlanta in games, but a scuffling, mistake-prone offense that takes them right back out of it. The biggest difference, frankly, is that they've only grown more inept in the weeks since.

The biggest difference has been Matt Ryan's performance. With Leonard Hankerson out, the pass protection eroding a bit, and Ryan pressing, he's thrown five of his 12 interceptions in the last three games, versus just five touchdowns. He wasn't great against you guys the last time out, but he's regressed since, even if some of his struggles have been a bit overblown.

The other major change is on the defensive side of the ball, where the Falcons have still been stout. They've switched O'Brien Schofield and Vic Beasley's sides to try to gin up more of a pass rush, which hasn't been effective, and rookie Jalen Collins is getting 25-40 snaps per game as one of the team's top three cornerbacks, replacing veteran Phillip Adams altogether. Collins has a bright future, but he's eminently burnable by quality receivers, which should give your offense a lift.

The bottom line is that you'll be seeing the same team you saw a month ago, only with more losses tacked on and a lot more soul-searching going on. We're just all hoping they can turn it around against Tampa Bay.