Archive for August, 2009

Falcons: 5 things we learned from the Charger game

Cornerback Brent Grimes had a rought day with Vincent Jackson. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC).

Cornerback Brent Grimes had a rough day with Vincent Jackson. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC).

THE DOME — The key will be getting the proper perspective on what happened to the first team defense in this one.

San Diego’s Philip Rivers and his set of fleet receivers made some incredible plays on third down. The one-handed grab by Vincent Jackson along the sideline over Chris Houston was remarkable.

But here are the five things we learned from this one:

1. RE-TOOLING THE DEFENSE: The defense has a long ways to go. Granted it was Rivers and the Chargers vaunted passing attack — without L.T. or Antonio Gates — but you can’t allow teams to continually convert on third downs.  Just in the second touchdown drive alone, the Chargers converted on third-and-8, third-and-18, third-and-17 and third-and-24.

2. REDMAN IS NO. 2: Chris Redman’s showing in the second half was the best play of any of the backups QBs this offseason.

3. YOUNG GUNS: Defensive end Lawrence Sidbury and cornerback Chris Owens …

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Falcons to pick in Fantasy Land

After piling up 1,699 yards and 17 touchdowns, Michael Turner will be a high pick in most fantasy drafts. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

After piling up 1,699 yards and 17 touchdowns, Michael Turner will be a high pick in most fantasy drafts. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

FANTASY LAND – There is a notion out there that Fantasy Football is for geeks.

It goes against every thing that real football is suppose to stand for.

Football is about coming together as a team and playing for one common goal.

How many fantasy leagues do you play in?

  • One
  • Two
  • More than five
  • Don’t play. Fantasy football is for losers.

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It’s not about individual stats. Not about how many yards someone can throw for or how many touchdown passes a player can catch.

But since half of the world has a fanstasy team and are about to draft, I thought we’d do a public service here and at least tell you where to pick the Falcons at.

The Pro Football Weekly came in the mail the other day and they have a draft board.

We’ll give their top five and where the Falcons stack up:

Falcons QB Matt Ryan is not a fantasy superstar yet. He has to toss more touchdown passes. He had 16 last season. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

Falcons QB Matt Ryan is not a …

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Falcons: 5 things we learned from the Rams game

Looks like another long season for the Rams. At least they have The Arch.

Looks like another long season for the Rams. At least they have The Arch.

OVER THE ARCH – The “Shootout in St. Louis” for the No. 3 quarterback position was a toss up.

After Matt Ryan retired, D.J. Shockley and John Parker Wilson got chance to impress the coaching staff. Chris Redman, who did not play, is apparently safe as the backup.

“It is a competition,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “We wanted to evaluate those guys.”

Both had interceptions and a missed protection led to a Shockley fumble. Both led the team to field goals.

ESPN Chris Mortensen and his bus rolled through Flowery Branch last week.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen and his bus rolled through Flowery Branch last week.

“We had two really unfortunate turnovers,” Smith said. “They were touched by our receivers. I thought both of those guys had good learning experiences.”

Shockley got a chance to play with the first-team offensive line.

“I felt like I could have played better,” Shockley said. “There were situations when I was trying to make something happen and may have forced some …

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Falcons: 10 things we learned from the Lions game

Falcons QB Matt Ryan had a good showing against Detroit. (Robin Buckson/ The Detroit News).

Falcons QB Matt Ryan had a good showing against Detroit. (Robin Buckson/ The Detroit News).

THE BRANCH – Here are 10 things we learned during the Falcons’ shocking 27-26 loss to the Detroit Lions.

1. The Falcons front-seven — with two new linebackers and a new nose tackle — has to improve against the run. Perhaps they are just working out the kinks and getting used to each other.

Matt Ryan on the cover of current issue of Atlanta Magazine.

Matt Ryan on the cover of current issue of Atlanta Magazine. (Ledbetter/AJC)

2. What was most impressive about rookie cornerback Chris Owens was how physical he was when he came up in run support.

3. Quarterback Matt Ryan and tight end Tony Gonzalez are going to be a force on third down.

4. Running back Michael “The Burner” Turner’s legs looked pretty fresh on that 40-yard touchdown run.

5. Defensive tackle Thomas Johnson, a free agent signee, might be a keeper. His sack on third down to force the Lions to attempt a field goal on their opening drive was a big-time play.

6. Right guard Harvey …

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Run Roddy Run: All that glitters is not Spanish Gold

Should the name of the show be the Ghetto Gold Diggers of Atlanta?

Should the name of the show be the Ghetto Gold Diggers of Atlanta?

THE BRANCH — Falcons wide receiver Roddy White’s wallet is much fatter these days.

Here’s the year-by-year break down of his base salaries:  $6,000,000 – 2009: $6,600,000 – 2010; 4,000,000 – 2011; $5,500,000 – 20112; $5,600,000 – 2013 and $5,000,000 – 2014, according to the NFLPA. There’s another $4 million in incentives and $11.3 million in bonuses. That brings the grand total of his six-year contract extension to $48 million.

A note to Roddy, if you see any of the above people coming your way. . . . dude run the other way.

White is not planning to buy a new car. He's going to stick with his Spanish Gold Chrysler. (Looks Orange to the untrained eye)

White could upgrade his car, but he plans to stick with his Spanish Gold Chrysler. (Looks BRIGHT Orange to the untrained eye).

Run like you trying to get away from Baltimore safety Ed Reed.

Run like O.J. use to run through the airport in those old Hertz commercials.

Run like Michael Johnson did in the 400 meters at the Sydney Olympics.

Was forced at gun point  — pretty …

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Falcons: Meet the Burn Unit

Tyson Clabo, Harvey Dahl, Todd McClure, Justin Blalock and Sam Baker (at least part of his head).  (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

The Burn Unit: Tyson Clabo, Harvey Dahl, Todd McClure, Justin Blalock and Sam Baker (at least part of his head). (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

THE BRANCH — One of the fun parts of being a sports writer is coming up with nicknames.

Had a youth league player who decided that it was his day — finally — to go ahead and use those shoulder pads and tackle somebody like we’d taught him. He was dubbed the “Hitman.”  Don’t believe that he’s hit anybody since, but the lovely little kid is still called the “Hitman.”

I think we’d have to call him a coverage linebacker.

Since nobody is kicking around the Falcons offensive line after last season, they are perhaps worthy of their

Right tackle Tyson Clabo. Member of the Burn Unit. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

Right tackle Tyson Clabo. Member of the Burn Unit. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

very own nickname. When you pave the way for a 1,700-yard back, cut your sack totals in half (darn it, got to look up a stat) — cut your sack totals by 30 (from 47 to 17) — and kick sand in the face of weakling defenses, then you need a nickname.

This …

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Falcons: 5 things we learned from the scrimmage

We learn that Jamaal Fudge can deliver the big shot! He sent Jason Snelling airborne here.

Jamaal Fudge can deliver the big shot! He sent Jason Snelling to the grass here. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

THE DOME –  In the aftermath of last night’s scrimmage, here are five things that we learned about the Falcons.

1. Backup safety Jamaal Fudge, the former Clemson standout, can deliver the big hit (see above). With William Moore down for two to four weeks perhaps he’ll jump in and battle Thomas DeCoud for the starting strong safety spot.

2. Precision passing attacks never look get early. Too many dropped balls and high passes.

3. Christopher Owens showed that he can play. He made some nice plays on the ball and in run support. The battle for the left cornerback is heating up.

4. Running back Jerious Norwood ran more determined. And, oh yeah, he’s still pretty darn fast.

5. Quarterback Matt Ryan ran very well on the scrimmage’s first play. He ran up the middle for 12 yard gain.

D.J. Shockley and Arthur Blank watch as the game ball was parachuted into Brookwood Community Stadium. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

D.J. Shockley and Arthur Blank watch as the game ball was parachuted into Brookwood Community …

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Injury bug has hit Falcons early in camp

New Falcons receiverr Marty Booker is a former Pro Bowler.

New Falcons receiver Marty Booker is a former Pro Bowler.

THE BRANCH – The injury bug is in the air.

One of the keys to the Falcons success last season was the lack of major injuries.

Just a few days into camp and Harry Douglas is done for the season and second round pick William Moore is out for a month.

The big battle to replace Lawyer Milloy is practically over before it got started. Go ahead and pencil Thomas DeCoud as the default winner. Moore will have to catch up when he comes back and show his

Robert Ferguson is noted for his downfield blocking. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Robert Ferguson is noted for his downfield blocking. (Curtis COMPTON/AJC)

stuff on special teams.

The Falcons were the fifth-best team in terms of man-games missed by their starters last season, according to the Football Outsiders Almanac 2009.

Wide receiver Brian Finneran, who missed two seasons with a similar injury to Douglas, knew it was trouble when he saw Douglas go down.

“The way he went down, it was a bad feeling,” Finneran said. “It was a tough, tough …

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Falcons could turn to DeCoud at Safety

Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud is after Lawyer Milloy's vacate spot. (Curtis Compton/AJC).

Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud is after Lawyer Milloy's old spot. (Curtis Compton/AJC).

THE BRANCH – Just four days into training camp and the battle to replace Lawyer Milloy at strong safety is starting to take shape.

“I think the safety position is one where there is a good battle,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said on Monday.

Who is going to win the starting Strong Safety spot?

  • Thomas DeCoud
  • William Moore
  • Von Hutchins
  • None of the above. Falcons re-sign Lawyer Milloy and welcome he back to the team.

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Thomas DeCoud, a third round pick out of Cal from the 2008 draft, made a big push over the offseason. He’s a high-wonderlic guy and is not going to make any classroom mistakes.

DeCoud has major range and the striking ability his flashed on special teams last season appears to translate.

“Thomas DeCoud is coming back from a good year last year where he had an opportunity to compete and play on special teams,” Smith said.

William Moore is now wearing No. 25 to honor a friend. (Curtis Compton/AJC).

William …

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