Originally created 11/09/99

Falcons faults exposed in loss



SUWANEE, Ga. - The game film from Sunday's 30-7 loss to Jacksonville offered few clues into the Atlanta Falcons' psyche. In fact, it only solidified what coach Dan Reeves already knew -- this is the most-frustrating bunch of football players he's ever known.

"This is the most," Reeves said Monday at the team's training camp. "I have never been this frustrated before. Without question, this is probably the most frustrated I've ever been, as far as coaching is concerned, because I know we are better than what we are playing. That is what makes it so frustrating."

The defending NFC champions are 2-7 heading into this weekend's bye. The loss to Jacksonville exposed the Falcons for all their faults -- a lack of consistency along the offensive line, no running game, a decided disadvantage in the turnover ratio, inconsistency along the defensive front and a secondary that gives up too many big plays.

Atlanta gave up nine quarterback sacks. The Falcons had 42 rushing yards; Jacksonville had 152. The Jaguars' first touchdown came on a 44-yard strike from quarterback Mark Brunell to Jimmy Smith. Atlanta lost four turnovers; Jacksonville had none.

But there were other telling factors. Jacksonville started six of 13 possessions in Atlanta territory, and 44 of the 71 plays from scrimmage came in Falcons territory. At the same time, all 11 of Atlanta's possessions started from its side of the 50-yard line.

"We had penalties, we had sacks," Reeves said. "You name it, we did it."

Reeves said the team will take today off, then return for practice on Wednesday. After that, the players won't report back to camp until next Monday.

"If anything, it can help us maybe get a little bit healthier and hopefully get over some of the injuries that we may have," Reeves said. "It also may give us a chance to look to see if we are doing anything that we could maybe look at and analyze and see that we need to improve on it or do away with it or whatever. I think the biggest thing is just to get away from the game for a while and hopefully get healthier.

"The bye weeks are much better situations for coaches than for players; whether you are winning or losing. It gives you an opportunity or chance to kind of get your batteries re-charged and get after the second half. It gives you some time to get re-charged and get going."

If the team's bye had come earlier in the season, Reeves said the first nine games may have had a different outcome.

"I don't know that there would have been a better time to have a bye week," he said. "I would have loved to have one early. I would have loved to have had one about a third of the way through. Finally, it has come now about halfway through. We will take it now.

"You would like to have it to where you have a win behind you and you could enjoy it a little bit more, but we will take it. I do think it will help us physically and mentally."

After Sunday's performance, the Atlanta Falcons need all they help they can get.

Reach Don Coble at doncoble@mindspring.com.