Falcons need to quickly get passed awful showing

The Atlanta Falcons didn’t have much to be proud of Monday.

Even defensive end Kroy Biermann, who scored Atlanta’s only

touchdown in a 30-12 season-opening loss at Chicago, was in a

somber mood.

”We’ve got some stuff to work on,” Biermann said. ”They got

some runs on us and obviously some screens. There are some issues

there that need to be cleaned up.”

With Philadelphia (1-0) and former Falcons quarterback Michael

Vick visiting the Georgia Dome in six days, coach Mike Smith said

Atlanta (1-0) can’t wait long to fix mistakes on offense, defense

and special teams.

Other than Matt Bryant’s 2-for-2 afternoon on field-goal tries,

the Falcons flopped hard in their opener:

– The defense missed enough tackles for a month’s worth of bad

highlights and created just one takeaway, Biermann’s interception

return early in the fourth quarter;

– Quarterback Matt Ryan, who was sacked five times and hit six

others, combined with running back Michael Turner for three

turnovers. The offense, despite 386 net yards, went 0-for-2 in

red-zone chances and converted only four of 13 third-down

opportunities;

– Three of the team’s nine penalties were committed by the

coverage and return units.

Smith, a fourth-year head coach who spent nine NFL seasons as a

defensive assistant, was particularly disappointed in the missed

tackles.

Chicago had six plays of 23 or more yards. Two screen passes,

one a first-quarter touchdown by running back Matt Forte and a

second that receiver Devin Hester took to the Atlanta 1 in the

third period, each were caught behind the line of scrimmage and

covered 50-plus yards.

”Fundamentally, tackling is something you have to be proficient

at,” Smith said. ”We were not very proficient in our tackling,

and that led to explosive plays.”

Pro Bowl defensive end John Abraham had two of Atlanta’s five

sacks, but the pressure was inconsistent on Bears quarterback Jay

Cutler most of the afternoon.

”We didn’t match their defense and play, I guess, like they

did,” Abraham said. ”They came out and created some turnovers

early, and we created one turnover late in the game. The game was

kind of out of reach by then.”

Missed assignments against the run and pass were problematic,

too.

”They got on a run very early,” Smith said. ”They converted

on a third down with a flag route. We were in a blitz zone and we

had a miscommunication, so it was basically an uncovered guy, and

then we had a guy drop coverage on a third-and-13 as well.”

Offensively, the score was so lopsided midway through the third

quarter that Atlanta had to abandon the run. The Falcons ran just

five plays on the ground in the second half and had few chances to

make use of Turner, a two-time Pro Bowl selection over the last

three seasons.

”When you have a defensive line that basically only has to

defend one thing, it makes it tougher for your offensive protection

to hold up,” Smith said. ”But we’ve got to improve that.”

The performance was a huge disappointment by Falcons, who

returned 19 starters from a club that went 13-3 last season and

earned the NFC’s No. 1 playoff seed.

Pro Bowl right tackle Tyson Clabo was in a terse mood as he

described his frustration. Using more colorful language, he said

when an NFL team loses the turnover battle, this is what happens –

you get your butt kicked.

”We’ve got a lot of work to do this week because obviously it’s

not getting any easier,” Clabo said. ”The Eagles are a good

team.”