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Flaws exposed, but Falcons not a fraud

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Dan Parr
Associate editor

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Posted Jan. 17, 2011 @ 3:33 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

The Falcons were dismantled by the Packers in a 27-point blowout on Saturday, but head coach Mike Smith and GM Thomas Dimitroff have indicated that they are not going to respond by blowing up their roster or coaching staff this offseason.

"The sky is not falling I can assure you that," Smith said on Sunday. "We played a very poor football game last night in terms of the performance. We coached a very poor football game. Everybody in that room has ownership of that and it starts with me.

"I don't think you want to overreact. You've got to take time. You sit back and you analyze and you go through that analysis and you make decisions in the calm after you've been able to take the emotion out of it. If you go on emotion right now, you're probably not going to like what you're thinking."

Smith, who has led the Falcons to three consecutive winning seasons, doesn't seem to be panicking, and it's probably because his team is not built to be a three-year wonder. Every NFL team is dealing with uncertainty about the future during negotiations on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but Atlanta is young, talented and stable enough to recover from a humbling postseason loss and contend for a playoff spot again in 2011 and beyond.

The PFW Spin

As bad as the Falcons looked on Saturday, they were not a fraud that somehow snuck into being the No. 1 seed in the NFC. They earned that honor by capturing a tough division, and beat four teams that made the playoffs along the way.

Atlanta had all kinds of problems Saturday, but the main one was a quarterback producing the performance of his life. They were unable to stop QB Aaron Rodgers (31-of-36 passing for 366 yards with three TDs and zero interceptions), who led Green Bay to a 48-point night.

On offense, the Falcons produced only two scores — RS Eric Weems had a kickoff return for a touchdown — and the offensive line broke down, allowing QB Matt Ryan to be sacked five times. The Packers were able to limit RB Michael Turner to only 10 carries for 39 yards. He had just one carry in the entire second half and the Falcons possessed the ball for nearly 17 minutes less than the Packers did.

Green Bay put Atlanta in a position it didn't have much experience with — the Falcons' offense hasn't had to deal with trying to come back from large deficits much, and it's not a quick-strike type of group. The Packers exposed weaknesses that less-capable teams struggled to do against the Falcons.

Atlanta doesn't have huge holes in its roster, but Dimitroff might consider adding more speed in the front four to help bolster the pass rush. The Falcons also could use a respected deep threat at wide receiver that would help them stretch the field more often. They didn't complete a pass of longer than 22 yards on Saturday.

There's work to be done and plenty of disappointment to get over, but there's no reason to break up the Falcons and start over again.

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