1. You might look at the score and think that the Falcons' defense played reasonably well in holding Carolina to 20 points, but that wasn't the sense that I got at all in watching the game. Carolina repeatedly gashed the Falcons' offensive line on running plays and Jake Delhomme had all day to throw the ball on numerous occasions. Jordan Gross pretty much had his way with John Abraham. If Carolina weren't quarterbacked by, you know, Jake Delhomme, then the Falcons would have surrendered a lot more than 20 points. I'd like to think that the coverage was really good down the field, but I'm far more likely to believe that the Falcons were bailed out by playing against a substandard quarterback.
2. Matt Ryan is phenomenal. I'm going to be a stuck record on this point, but I really wish that Mike Mularkey would put more of the game on him and less on Michael Turner. What's the rationale for giving Turner (3.8 yards per carry) one more attempt than Ryan (8.1 yards per pass attempt)? The strength of this team is Ryan throwing the ball to Roddy White, Michael Jenkins, and Tony Gonzalez. Why do we have to act like the 2005 Steelers when we should be acting like the 2009 Saints (and lord knows the Falcons will have to act like the 2009 Saints when they play the 2009 Saints because we should not have many illusions about this defense stopping Drew Brees). The only defense I can offer for the distribution of play calls is the same defense that military historians offer for Hitler/Paulus's decision not to break out of Stalingrad: by occupying so much of the defenders' attention, the Sixth Army/Turner give themselves up to make life easier for other units. Ideally, Turner's season will not end in the Gulag.
3. I heart Mike Peterson. With every play he makes, I'm happier and happier that Keith Brooking no longer plies his trade in Atlanta. I would also guess that with each Jags highlight he sees, Peterson is happier and happier that he followed Mike Smith to Atlanta as opposed to staying with Jack Del Rio. After two games, the linebacking corps appear to be the strength of this Falcons team.
4. Every time I watch the Panthers play the Falcons, I find myself hating Steve Smith all over again. He's a great foil.
5. In a B&B first, I am going to say something nice about Comcast and the NFL: I love the Red Zone Channel. I wouldn't have guessed that the cable company with a customer service reputation right up there with the Stasi and the pro sports league with a tendency to deprive its fans of viewing options at every turn would combine to make my Sunday TV experience more enjoyable, but they have accomplished that feat. Now, instead of having no football flipping options during a Falcons game, I can get snippets from every game going on in the league. And the best part is that the NFL Network apparently keeps the host, Scott Hanson, in the studio's basement all week drinking espresso and taking Elvis-approved uppers, because Hanson dishes out highlights like Matt Foley. He managed to sound excited about the Browns-Broncos game on Sunday. Even Der Wife was transfixed by the channel on Sunday. I love it!