What We Learned: Falcons vs. Saints A gritty rivalry between two NFC South teams resulted in an overtime loss for the Falcons. Here is what we learned from the annual matchup with the Saints. The rivalry between the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints goes way beyond the football. There’s pure hatred and very little respect between the respective cities and fan bases. When these two teams meet on the gridiron Womens De'Vondre Campbell Jersey , there is a sure bet for fireworks to occur. This edition of the rivalry was no exception. The 43-37 loss is a bitter one, and in the midst of the game, the Falcons lost an underrated piece of their defense in safety Ricardo Allen to a season-ending Achilles injury (thanks Adam Caplan). They also unquestionably showed why the losses of Deion Jones and Keanu Neal were monumental in their own right. I know some fans may not want to hear it either, but the tackling by the Falcons defense was an eyesore, and I’m being nice. The arrival of a special receiver was also the talk of the game here as rookie Calvin Ridley introduced himself to the Saints and the rivalry with seven catches for 146 yards and three touchdowns, including a beautiful 75-yard touchdown reception. Play calling from offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was excellent, and for the second week in a row, the second-year assistant drew fewer and fewer critics. Jason Getz-USA TODAY SportsI refuse to jump the gun here, but the way the offense has played after their flat display against Philadelphia in Week 1 is a very welcome sight. This is without the services of their No. 1 running back and now their starting left guard, who is on injured reserve for the rest of the season. But this was a game that had an equal share of good and bad. The “bad” in this matchup was evident in all four quarters, and it is something that you don’t expect to see from a team that is a full season removed from a Super Bowl appearance. The amount of injuries on this team is enough to make any team or any head coach considerably worried. Ironically, it was a team that had a machine on offense and a so-so defensive unit that won 11 games in 2016 and found themselves Super Bowl bound. History could repeat itself with this team. However, the odds are not reliable. Not only will the players on the field have to step up, but more is being called for from the coaching staff. As we saw in this game against New Orleans, decision making Womens Mohamed Sanu Jersey , even in the early stages of the game, can prove to be critical in a one-score loss. The season is far from lost for the Falcons. It’s not even the end of the opening month of the season. However, circumstances such as this will be a real test for the entire franchise. From top to bottom. Let’s go back to Jan. 2, 2017. That’s the day USC beat Penn State in a thrilling Rose Bowl with the twists and turns all great games have coming down to a last second finish. We like to think progress is linear in sports. Teams that show potential will incrementally get better, right? It hasn’t really worked that way for the Trojans. They underachieved a bit in 2017, winning the Pac-12 but finishing 12th after starting in the top five. Now they’re going to finish near the bottom of a bad division at 5-6 (4-5 in the Pac-12). They’ve had an issue at quarterback this season, working in freshman J.T. Daniels. USC also lost arguably their best defensive player, Porter Gustin, for the season.Even accounting for some bad injury luck, USC’s down years should be better.S&P+ only projected 8-4 or so for this team in the first post-Sam Darnold year. Expectations weren’t unfair. The Trojans already have those four losses and now need to take care of business in two of three games just to win a bowl (unless you believe they can pull off an upset of Notre Dame).Reloading years are natural for even the best program, Georgia’s 2018 reload was projected for 10 wins, and they seem poised to hit it — just to use another elite recruiter as an example.That expectation is boosted by the talent on the roster and the fact that it is, well, USC. At some point, we’ve got to assess what USC is: a program with a laughable amount of talent that isn’t playing to its potential http://www.atlantafalconsteamonline.com/robert-alford-jersey , and one with a much lower floor than it should have. There’s something about the Trojans that lets them be both the biggest program in the sport west of Texas, yet allows them to skirt some of the soul searching done by teams further east. USC’s two-year recruiting rank is third, its five-year ranking fifth. They are, on talent alone, nearly the most elite team in the sport. Their Blue-Chip Ratio tells that story:2014: 63 percent 2015: 70 percent2016: 70 percent2017: 63 percent2018: 71 percentOf the 11 teams who have eclipsed 60 percent Blue-Chip Ratios in the Playoff era, five have made it to the Playoff. USC sits with Texas, Auburn, Notre Dame, Michigan, and LSU as teams that have yet to make it. Of the three programs who have topped 70 percent in recent years, USC is the only one that hasn’t won a national title. The Trojans haven’t even been a serious consideration to make a Playoff.The only teams that consistently recruit on or above USC’s level are Ohio State and Alabama. USC more or less gets the pick of the litter of any player west of the Rocky Mountains. Getting the players isn’t the issue — it’s putting them in the right positions. It is Clay Helton’s job to do that. This coaching cycle doesn’t figure to be one where a lot of big jobs open, but USC could be one to watch. If the Trojans decide they can jump from good to great without Helton, it is a tricky move they’d have to nail. Year 3 was always going to be decisive for him, as it is for many Trojans coaches. USC’s been tantalizing for about three years now, and arguably much longer than that. USC got smoked to start 2016 by Alabama — no shame in that http://www.atlantafalconsteamonline.com/jake-matthews-jersey , as the Tide came one second away from a title. They sputtered against Stanford and Utah, then got the QB situation figured out, settling on Darnold. They won nine straight without Playoff pressures, backdooring that Rose Bowl berth. They became a darling, the team that might have been one of the nation’s best in November of that season ... if only they’d have taken care of business in September. They finished ninth in S&P+. Queue the preseason expectations heading into 2017, as the USC hype machine got cranked up: the preseason top-five ranking, the pick to win the league, etc. Hell, our own season preview was headlined “We don’t have to proclaim that USC football is back — the Trojans did that for us last year.”USC took another step forward, winning the Pac-12, but proved they still weren’t ready for prime time, losing to Notre Dame and Ohio State. And they didn’t play Washington en route to the Pac-12 crown. 2018 is a clear step backward, one many saw coming, despite the stocked roster. Out of the gates, they lost to a non-elite Stanford Authentic Keanu Neal Jersey , then lost big against Texas. They saw a 14-point lead against Utah disappear in Week 8. They were down early to Arizona State, and in a see-sawing game couldn’t pull it out. They lost with a great defensive effort against Cal, and to a bad UCLA team as well.Great programs have high ceilings, yes, but they also have really high floors. USC is not Stanford or UCLA or Washington. But since Pete Carroll left in 2008, the Trojans have won fewer than nine regular season games more times than they haven’t.The good news for USC is that a lot of its talent is young, which gives Helton some margin to get things figured out, and if he does, the depth will be in a really good place long-term. The highest goal is now to shoot for another Rose Bowl in 2019, no matter who leads the way.