clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Davey Jones’ Locker: Five Questions with The Falcoholic for Week 6

Dave Choate previews the Bucs-Falcons matchup.

Arizona Cardinals v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

This week, the Buccaneers come back off their bye week and head to Atlanta to take on the Falcons. To help preview the game, we throw five questions at The Falcoholic’s Dave Choate for a Q&A session this week.

Bucs Nation: Atlanta has struggled on defense this season. That unit has also been hampered by injuries. What adjustments have they made to overcome their woes?

Dave Choate: The chief adjustments have been tinkering, really. The Falcons added a bunch of players to fill out the back end of the defense, including former Bucs safety Keith Tandy, but primarily they’ve been trying hard just to see what they have and put players in a position to succeed. That’s involved moving players in their secondary around and giving extended looks to young players like Duke Riley and Jordan Richards, with extremely mixed results.

The Falcons are hoping continuity and time will make a difference, but with an anemic pass rush and a lot of issues with tackling, it’s hard to see how that’s going to suddenly get this thing to click. I’m concerned the Falcons are in deep trouble defensively the rest of the way.

BN: Like the Buccaneers, Atlanta has not been able to produce on the ground. But Devonta Freeman has missed time due to an injury suffered in Week 1. What are Atlanta’s plans for the run game this week after Freeman was listed as “DNP” on Wednesday’s injury report?

DC: I doubt Freeman will play this week, though there’s hope he’ll be back in Week 7 against the Giants. That leaves the Falcons with Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith, who have been solid but unspectacular on the ground in recent weeks. The Falcons are unlikely to commit to rushing the ball overmuch in this one, given the incentive to pass in what may be a shootout, but you can expect Smith to be used between the tackles and Coleman to get some outside runs in the hopes that he’ll break one or two. I’d say no more than 20 carries combined between the two.

BN: What’s the mood within the organization and among the players and coaches after the team’s 1-4 start?

DC: The mood for the organization is upbeat, at least on the surface. This is a team that never seems to lack for motivation, and you won’t get them to admit that their chances of turning this thing around are slim as hell, even though they are. Players are talking about self-improvement, Dan Quinn is talking about working specifically with struggling players to clean up issues with tackling and pass protection, and generally this organization is talking like they expect to go on a run any week now. It just has to be this week if they’re gonna stay alive in the NFC South.

BN: What do they have to do to turn things around this season?

DC: What don’t they have to do? On offense, the Falcons need to run the ball more effectively and protect Matt Ryan much better than they have without major personnel changes. That’ll require improvement from struggling tackle Ryan Schraeder and solid-but-unspectacular guards Wes Schweitzer and Brandon Fusco on both counts, which feels like it’s within reach given that all have been at least decent starters in the past.

On defense, everything has to improve. The Falcons need more pass rush out of everyone not named Takk McKinley, they need far better play from a linebacker groups that has been eaten alive by penalties, bad angles and missed tackles, and they need to solidify third cornerback and strong safety spots that have been major liabilities for much of the season. Even getting one or two of those issues improved would help keep them in games, because they’re not good enough to hang with any solid offense at this point in the year.

BN: Week 6 final prediction?

DC: I’ve got the Falcons winning a shootout at home, 38-34. I don’t think either team is capable of stopping the other, so this is going to come down to whoever gets a lucky break and keeps the offense rolling crisply. I’m betting that the Falcons, who have been plagued by poor luck in addition to poor performance, finally get a lucky turnover or two to turn the tide in this one.