While many fans thought Atlanta’s unexpected 9-7 record in 2008 was the precursor of greater things ahead, Mike Smith’s Big Red Machine hit some potholes in his second year as head coach. Although the team rallied late in the year with three straight victories to once again reach nine wins, the Falcons’ talent level suggests that they are capable of much more.
Those nine W’s weren’t enough to qualify Smith’s contingent for postseason play, and a primary reason for that was the team’s defense. In addition to a weakened pass rush, Atlanta’s secondary was downright atrocious, allowing opponents to score 28 points or more in nine of 16 regular season contests.
To add insult to injury, the Dirty Birds ranked 28th versus the pass and their defensive backfield surrendered eight more touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks than they did the year prior (23 versus 15).