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Falcons Look to Break Rut Against Patriots, Bucs Bench Freeman for Glennon

For the Atlanta Falcons (1-2) they entered the season with high expectations even after their dismal, winless preseason. Many thought they’d be Super Bowl contenders but so far in this season, they’re struggling just to win.

Steven Jackson

Steven Jackson

What’s up with this team that looks like they won’t even make it to the postseason? It has been hit by the injury bug. New running back Steven Jackson has been sidelined by a thigh injury (or is it his hammy?) and will likely be out for two to four more weeks. In his place Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling have stepped up but Jackson has been missed in redzone situations.

Factor in wide receiver Roddy White’s ankle injury which has caused him to start slowly; tight end Tony Gonzalez has not been adding a lot and the team has lost two key defensive players, defensive end Kroy Biermann (done for the year) and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (back in eight weeks).

Oh yeah, there’s also that revamped offensive line that has been allowing too much pressure, but is improving. Last week, they didn’t allow any sacks on quarterback Matt Ryan. There’s also a lack of red-zone efficiency (6 for 12 to-date) and weak second-half scoring.

This has created a recipe for disappointing play.

This Sunday, the Falcons will host the New England Patriots (3-0). This team is suffering from its own challenges (can you say they miss Wes Welker?) but have managed to squeak out wins every week–even against rookie quarterbacks and Bucs weak Josh Freeman. The Patriots could face their first true test on Sunday.

For the Falcons, coach Mike Smith said in his Monday press conference that his team needs to play better situational football which will include better execution of red-zone plays both offensively and defensively, third-down plays and two-minute drills.

The team won their only game of the season at home against the St.Louis Rams (1-2). It’s hard to bet against Tom Brady but it looks like the Falcons will get their second win of the season (-1, 49.5 o/u).

Buc Bench Freeman, Glennon to Play in Week 4

With the writing on the wall for months, it finally became a reality for Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3) quarterback Freeman. He has been benched by the team, according to ESPN, and rookie Mike Glennon will play in this week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals (1-2).

This comes as Bucs coach Greg Schiano said on Monday that Freeman was still his starting quarterback–a player with a 45.7 percent pass completion, more interceptions (3) than touchdowns (2), and a 59.3 rating in his three 2013 games.

Josh Freeman

Josh Freeman

Schiano further commented after Freeman’s Sunday loss against the Patriots, “He’s done some good things and he’s done some things that we’d like to change and he’d like to change. But it’s the whole offensive unit. We need to be more precise. We need to be coached more precisely.”

Under Schiano’s first season, Freeman passed for 4,065 yards and 27 touchdowns. He also became the Bucs’ all-time leader with his 78 touchdown passes.

But after losing his captaincy this season and arriving late to a team photo, Freeman’s poor play was the nail in the coffin for Schiano to move onto his rookie quarterback.

Glennon, a third-round draft pick from NC State, had a rough preseason and pretty much said he was not ready for primetime. He was seen warming up on the sidelines during Sunday’s game and now he’ll get his debut.

As for Freeman, in addition to starting Wednesday out with the benching news, stories are also circulating that it’s trade time for the player. He previously expressed interest in one and now NFL.com’s Ian Rapport tweeted, “Can Josh Freeman be traded now? Sure. Bucs are open to it. But won’t give their No. 2 QB away. Traded deadline isn’t until Oct. 29.”

The Freeman – Bucs story hasn’t ended yet but for Sunday, Vegas still gives the win to Tampa (-2.5, 40.5 o/u).

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