Originally created 11/21/00

Atlanta's offense still struggles



SAN FRANCISCO - Monday's weather was typical for Northern California - beautiful and breezy. Judging from the look on Dan Reeves' face, however, you would have thought a tsunami soon would destroy every inch of the Bay Area.

The horrible play of the Atlanta Falcons' offense continues to be a tidal wave of disappointment for the troubled coach. No one, including Reeves, could explain why the offensive line played so horribly in Sunday's 16-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

"It's mind boggling," Reeves said. "You could take a Pop Warner football team and say we're going to (have the tackle and tight end) block down and the guard's going to pull out, and they'll do it 99 percent of the time."

Looking like oversized Keystone Cops, the offensive linemen gave no indication they will find ways to correct their mistakes when the Falcons (3-9) visit the Oakland Raiders (9-2) later this week.

Quarterback Chris Chandler, sacked four times and beaten into the 3Com Park turf repeatedly, knew where the problems were. Finding a solution, though, seemed impossible.

"I could go into great detail," the 13-year veteran said, "but it's not something y'all need to know about."

Running back Jamal Anderson, who had only 12 of his 76 yards rushing in the second half, believes it's obvious why the Falcons own the NFC's worse total offense and rushing attack.

"I thought our defense did a good job for the most part, but you've got to score points," he said. "You've got to make plays. You've got to be able to execute. Those are three things we're having difficulty doing. We've got to find identity."

First-year center Todd McClure and rookie right guard Travis Claridge held a clinic on poor technique. Left guard Calvin Collins and right tackle Ephraim Salaam committed excruciating penalties.

"I think the biggest thing is when (the opposition has) some success, they're going to come even harder each time," McClure said. "We've just got to fight and know they're going to be bringing it. We've got to stop them."

Tight end Reggie Kelly seemed to play with no confidence. The only player singled out for playing with a trace of confidence was Bob Hallen, and he was playing his first career game at left tackle with nine-year starter Bob Whitfield nursing a pinched nerve in his neck.

Hallen did not escape embarrassment, though. A weak attempt at stopping Bryant Young in the fourth quarter was exposed when the defensive end flicked Hallen aside and slammed quarterback Chris Chandler from behind.

The vicious sack jarred the ball loose, and tight end Brian Kozlowski, in what might have been the line's one good move of the day, recovered the fumble.

"I have no idea why," Reeves said. "The pass protection was really, really bad. I thought we ran the ball fairly well."

Reeves soon grimaced, though, when asked why the offense couldn't score a touchdown after Anderson's 29-yard run down the left sideline put the Falcons at first-and-goal at the 5.

A pass to Kelly netted four yards before Anderson was hit for a 2-yard loss. Kelly failed to turn around on a potential scoring pass that Chandler threw in the left side of the end zone.

Reeves was particularly unnerved by the missed blocking assignments on Anderson's 2-yard loss. Running to the left, Anderson was stuffed Ken Norton Jr. and Artie Ulmer when Kelly, Hallen and Claridge failed to execute.

"Kelly and Hallen both blocked wrong on Jamal's run," Reeves said. "Reggie was supposed to block down, Bob was supposed to block down and the guard was supposed to pull out."