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 were cited by coach Mike Smith as players who jumped out at him in the normal course of the action.

4. HOW BAD IS J-ROCK HURT: He didn’t return as a precautionary

We have to find out if William Moore came back too fast from knee surgery. He suffered a hamstring injury against the Chargers. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

We have to find out if William Moore came back too fast from knee surgery. He suffered a hamstring injury against the Chargers. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

measure. If he’d torn something he would not have been allowed to return to the sideline with that plastic airbag contraption on around his left knee.

5. BOOKER CAN GET OPEN STILL: Back up wide receiver showed that he could get open at age 33. He had six catches for 62 yards, included a 21-yarder on a nice seam route.

Not sure what they can do, but I think we better be on the look out for some major changes on the defensive side of the  ball.

104 comments Add your comment

Larry Summers

August 30th, 2009
12:48 am

His name is Lawrence Sidbury. Just an FYI.


August 30th, 2009
12:55 am

Other than 1/ Curtist Lofton & 2/ “pulling a Blitzburg” and bringing our corners in to sack, I saw n o t h i n g I liked on defense. Current assessment: bring in some shutdown corners after the waiver wire, and hope they can learn the system. Redman was a s good as any backup in the league, including Volek. He’s a keeper and has the exact same throwing style as Ryan. Ugly, ugly win.


August 30th, 2009
1:27 am

Booker should and hopefully will make this team. He has been so consistent and professional.

Jamal Anderson is an unfortunate waste of space. If we cut him we get no better or worse. I hate that from a No. 8 pick. Thanks McKay. It is so difficult to come back from high 1st round busts, but thats what we have to do.

Nicholaus is servicable but nothing more. He was a 4th or 5th round pick, what should we expect?

Bottom line is we have to use very high draft picks next year to fix this defense. I am not like some Falcon fans with their head in the sand. You hit on a late round pick rarely, and when you blow a No. 8 pick it haunts you for years.

We now need a talented CB, LB, and DE to improve this defense. Bierman and Sidbury have potential, but are not players that are immediate game changing contributors. We need to get this done within two years to take advantage of our current offensive talent.

Again, we can not afford high round draft pick mistakes. This league has to much parity. Good luck TD, I’m cheering for you.

Big Ray

August 30th, 2009
1:37 am

Yes, the secondary looks bad. No, it won’t look like this all year long.

Remember one thing Lofton said: you don’t want to peak this early on. You want to get better and peak as the seasons wears on.

If things look really bleak (again, why would you put the defensive pressure all on the secondary), then rest assured that Dimitroff will make a move to keep the Titanic from sinking. But how many times are we going to face San Diego and like offenses? Exactly. Patience. This isn’t a Super Bowl run. This is still a rebuild.

And guess what? If you “escape” with a win….it’s still a win…


August 30th, 2009
2:52 am

@ Big Ray…You made the point about how many offenses we would face like San Diegos…Let’s look at it: New Orleans(twice), Dallas, Philly, Giants(those young receivers look like they are going to be pretty decent), and New England. That’s 6 teams right there with pretty potent passing offenses. Throw Chicago and Cutler into the mix and that’s 7 teams right there. Brent Grimes..he’s a hard nosed player, but good grief, he was getting ABUSED by the bigger receivers.

We need pressure on the QB’s..they were just sitting back there for HOUUURRRSS waiting on receivers to get open.

Let’s go Birds..let’s get this together!! Hope all the injuries aren’t too bad.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 30th, 2009
3:16 am


August 30th, 2009
3:36 am

D.O.L…go to bed!!! Leave the late nights to us blog crawlers who are at work and should actually be working…LOL!!!!!!!!!

Eric C.

August 30th, 2009
6:10 am

Can Booker play corner? Moore is a definite concern…once injury prone always injury proned? Wish we could start off with Det and KC again. Defense looked fast at times…just too sloppy – must get more pass rush with Brees and Brady coming up. Good day all…


August 30th, 2009
7:25 am

WHO IS J-ROCK????? If you are going to report something in the newspaper, you should identify with real names. Not all people keep up with the trash talk all the time.

santa cruz dawg

August 30th, 2009
7:40 am

It’s a good thing that we have a great offense because the defense is going to struggle. Chris Houston was getting abused by SD’s wideouts and the screen passes ate up the linebackers. Coach Vangorder is a great coach, but you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken #@^#.

Alex H.

August 30th, 2009
7:49 am

2nd on HJones’ question. Who is J-Rock? Jerious Norwood? I like Big Ray’s attitude. Let’s give them time.

Putting On The Foil

August 30th, 2009
7:50 am

The corners were terrible last night, maybe some due to weak pass rush, maybe some due to Chargers loaded pass offense. And it’s intuitively obvious that Jamaal Anderson is a liability, that we could use another linebacker, and that Peria is a rookie. We might also want to direct some of our displeasure toward Van Gorder as well. What has he done for us lately? Offense still looks good, although it sputtered a little. Redmon, as I said a few weeks ago, is number two for a reason so we can all get past this love affair of Shockley with all it’s excuses. Hopefully we can get some help off the waiver wire this week or next. Maybe another Foxworth type will be out there.


August 30th, 2009
7:59 am

“attack — with L.T. or Antonio Gates — but you”
that would be without L.T and Gates – fyi


August 30th, 2009
8:47 am

I was afraid letting Foxworth go was a bad move – and last night says it was a terrible move. Was Houston asleep?

I understand Abe takes it easy in preseason but their was no pressure anywhere, though Anderson did get no-called on holds twice I saw.

Maybe TD can package a WR or 2 (it seems we have way more than we need)for a CB.. Booker did look good.

Mike F

August 30th, 2009
8:50 am

I can’t find many reasons to be upbeat about this win… except that somehow, someway, it was a win. Too bad on the timing as well because, we may need this kind of ending later in the regular season. Hope we didn’t spend any special favors by getting it. The gridiron gods like to mess with us. They always have. They still do. I mean, Chris Redman looked like young Bret Favre for about 10 minutes or so. You don’t get this kind of thing except when the universe is either in perfect balance… or completely out of it.

I don’t feel any better with that win… or for knowing that it was preseason either. It’s kind of like kissing your sister and drinking decaf coffee. She may be pretty and it may be hot but .. there won’t be any late night dates in your future and you wouldn’t be able to stay awake for them anyway.


August 30th, 2009
8:54 am

And what about Chris Owens ankle? Did Smith comment on that?
It looks like we need to coach him up asap!
No passrush kills our weak CBs’ chances.


August 30th, 2009
8:58 am

San Diego did us a real favor – exposing what needed to be – better to know now than in the real season. Hopefully the coaches and TD can fix things somewhat.
Ryan’s stats are better than his play – he should have been intercepted 2 or 3 times, and his passes were often late or soft. I expected better from him with his now strengthened arm.


August 30th, 2009
9:00 am

Foxworth (who had to come in and take over for Grimes last year) proved that in this league, you must go out and spend some money at corner. “Wishing” a low rounder scout team player can “develop” into a solid starting NFL cornerback is just fools play.


August 30th, 2009
9:10 am

The Defense is going to coast the falcons this year. The offense will have to out score all of their opponenets to win and we all know you cant win like that in the NFL. Chris Houston got beat somany times and it was clear that he was lost.Ex. On third and 26 instead of keeping the receiver in front of him, he allows the receiver to get behind him and he is beat easily for a gain of about 30 yards. We play a lot of good qb’s and reecievers and Christ Houston and the Falcons D willbe exposed. Vangorder, hmmm for as much as wel ove him with the Georgia D, he decided to blitze on 2nd and long but the sit back and get chewed up on third and long. I am not sure about that strategy. Was Abraham or Anderson playing? I didnt hear either of their names the entire night. Anderson is a bust and they need to release him and as soon as other teams make their cuts, they need to go thrift shopping for a corner and DE, if not, we adre in big trouble and with this schedue we have, I only see 6 wins.


August 30th, 2009
9:24 am

On a brighter note, Thomas Brown got the ball across the thirty each time he returned a kickoff. Wondering if he can make the team based on return skills….

[...] Falcons: 5 things we learned from the Charger game [...]


August 30th, 2009
9:32 am

The release of J Anderson will be an immediate upgrade on the defense, all he could do last night was try to get out of the way of blockers, not fight thru or around the block to contribute, he has no talent-let him go or trade him if you can find any takers.

D up

August 30th, 2009
10:08 am

We have a lot of work to do on the defense. I do feel like this offense has the protential to become one of the most high powered offenses in the NFL. Redman did an excellent job as back up quarterback were pretty much solid at the back up positions on the offense, however we have got to improve the defensive line and the secondary. I guess we will see how our second year coach and G.M. will respond…Should be interesting. Go Falcons

Free Mike Vick

August 30th, 2009
10:10 am

Redman is a pansy. Shockley should be the back up, but Blank won’t let that happen.


August 30th, 2009
10:25 am

Free Chaucey Davis!!! I would HOPE that when the regular season rolls around, we’ll see more blitz packages to help out the woeful CB play we saw last night. No use tipping your entire hand in pre-season. Grimes looked OK, just too small to keep up with SD’s massive WR. Houston was just out of position too often. Yikes.

Sad, too, that the best pass defense play probably came from Lofton of all people.

But mountain jim is right: San Diego showed us what we need to work on for the next two weeks.

Tackling was also pretty lax across the board and across units from the first string D to the 4th quarter crew to ST. There’s time to fix it. But if it’s not fixed, the Falcons will have to be incredibly lucky to make 9-7.


August 30th, 2009
10:26 am

Wow I really thought this defense was going to be better then this.Someone needs to tell vangorder he is allowed to rush more then 3 on third and long.Hopefully they will do something to improve or we will not see back to back winning seasons once again.


August 30th, 2009
10:42 am

I’m very worried about the defense. Watching the game last night, it looked like we had our 3rd/4th string in against their starters. There needs to be some amount of pass rush with resorting to a blitz every time. But they did blitz on some of those 3rd downs and SD was still able to make the play. Abraham played a good bit of the first half and didn’t do very much either. I kept reading how Grimes and Owens were having such a good camp. Why wouldn’t they put in Owens when it became obvious that Grimes just couldn’t cover. I don’t know if it would have made any difference, but at least try something. The coaches didn’t make any personal changes with the first team (other than the DL rotation) during that stretch.

I know there is a huge expectation on the team this year, but we should be better than this. With the schedule the way it is, we would be lucky to get to 8-8 playing like this.

Looking at some of the other teams, I really don’t see a diamond in the rough getting released or traded that could fix the secondary situation. And I agree about Jamaal, I specifically watched him last night for a bit just to see how he had “improved” this camp. I think he spent more time on the ground after getting blocked than he did trying to rush anyone. He was constantly out of the play or just knocked out of the way. I really don’t see any improvement.


August 30th, 2009
10:56 am

I’m hoping the defense simply had a bad day. How does an NFL defense allow a team to convert on third and long three times in a row? They were out-coached as much as they were out-played.

I also hope that all those who have been excusing Shockley’s poor play by saying he was forced to play with the second and third teams were paying close attention to Chris Redman’s performance with those same playerss.


August 30th, 2009
11:07 am

when we play the patriots we will get destroyed by moss.


August 30th, 2009
11:09 am

The Falcons cold have drafted Joe Barnett out of UCF. Burnett was an all-conference CB and punt returner for the last three years. Check out the history of UCF DB’s in the NFL. The Falcons knew they need help at CB and at punt returner. Looks like the Steelers got a “steal” at the end of the fifth round. Burnett is already penciled in as their nickle back and as the starting punt returner.

Claude Humphrey

August 30th, 2009
11:09 am

I assume J-ROCK is Norwood?


August 30th, 2009
11:12 am

Offense will be solid all year. Defense looked in shambles! Neither Chris Houston or Brent Grimes is the answer, short or long-term. Guarantee there will be major changes in secondary soon. Kroy Biermann is too light, with no pass rush skills. He should be replaced immediately by Lawrence Sidbury. Biermann would be more valuable on special teams. I did think Lofton and Erik Coleman played fairly well. They give the defense a couple of “thumpers.” Sadly, I don’t think DeCoud is the answer at free safety. He’s just not a playmaker. Jamal Anderson tried, but he’s slow off the snap and can’t keep his feet from getting cut when blocked. Start Chrisopher Owens at one corner, and Chevis Jackson at the other and let’s see what they can do. Gonna be a long first half of the season, unless the secondary can tighten up and we get more pressure on quarterbacks. Don’t be surprised to see some prominent names on defense get cut this week and next!


August 30th, 2009
11:38 am

Got to keep things in perspective. The defense is one of the youngest in the league. there will be some growing pains. the offense will have to carry the team. i am interested in the development of Sidbury & Moore. I may have thought Houston is better than he really is.


August 30th, 2009
11:54 am

I think that Abe played conservatively, and The Falcons staff probably knew he was going to do so..

So, they got to see what would happen if Abe was not Abe.. They wanted to see who was going to “step-up” since Abe was “playing-off” a bit. They did. Some players actually “stepped-down”. lol

Abe is still The Lion of The Falcons defense. Without him, the other guys aren’t special (or don’t want to be). The young players don’t know the game yet..

The Falcons defense is not young.. not the starters anyway.

I do believe that CB Chris Houston is still hurt from the groin.. I’m not favoring him, but a groin is no joke. It’s one of those situations where a player in competition (with Owens and others) returned too soon.

I am expecting some surprising moves (Cuts, trades, and starters being moved to back-ups).

I think that one of Dimitroff’s CB picks will start and remain.

Lateral quickness – Stops the run and screens.

Looks like a few players need their rest at night..lolololol. Just because you are young doesn’t mean that you can go without the proper rest. Hopefully, that Atlanta Nightlife hasn’t drained these players, and sapped their strength.. There are no “special friends” when you are released, and have no fat NFL checks coming-in. lol. This town is full of users.

The Falcons players need to listen to TE Tony Gonzalez about rest and diet. Even though he is muscular, he is not a “stiff”. There is a reason for his longevity besides talent and study.

The Falcons cannot blitz this season, so it is all on the rotation of The Front 4.


August 30th, 2009
12:05 pm

Chris Houston got abused!!!!


August 30th, 2009
12:07 pm

Chris Lofton, Please wrap up!!!!!!


August 30th, 2009
12:08 pm

We better fix our D, or we’re in deep trouble.



August 30th, 2009
12:15 pm

**(About Falcons DE Jamaal Anderson)**:

He is so tall, the opposing OTs are just low-blocking him, and taking his legs away.. They aren’t standing-up and blocking him.. It sort of like Mora’s Cut-Block Scheme..

It is up to The Falcons Staff, because there is nothing that “a tall, big, lanky DE like Anderson” can do unless the scheme around these cut-blocks..

They need to stunt Anderson inside of DT Babineaux..

Anderson won’t catch the edge as long as The NFL allows OTs to curl into a Fetal position, and lean into Jamal’s legs on passing downs. Because Jamaal is not falling violently, The NFL refs are allowing this…lol. What a shame!

It’s up to The Falcons coaching staff. (They should receive no credit for Abraham’s success because he already was one of the best pass-rushers in The NFL before they were hired by Blank).

I think if he looses some weight, his speed will increase. I think that was one of the mistakes that The Falcons made in coaching Anderson. He needs his speed more than he needed more strength and bulk.

Jamaal needs to “Karate-Chop” the hands of opposing OTs off of his jersey.. Since he is a very tall man, the OTs are either chopping him low, or grabbing him high, and pulling him down with their weight. After he Karate chops a few arms of these RTs, they will become tired, and their arms will be burning hot and sore..lol.


August 30th, 2009
12:28 pm

Who is J-Rock?


August 30th, 2009
1:08 pm

Defense is very, very sad. We all knew this. However on the offense, who was that ineffective boob wearing Matt Ryans jersey last night? If it was Matty Ice, then his job should be up for grabs as well. All this controversy about DJ and the talentless JPW for third string means nothing to me after watching the flawed play of “our boy”. Poor, poor decisions.

Left the dome way early in third quarter in an attempt to escape the mind-numbing depression. Winning seasons 2 years in a row. What an unattainable fantasy(sigh)!


August 30th, 2009
1:10 pm

San Diego’s receivers were awesome. Philip Rivers threw some passes that had no business being caught. There were some plays that were undefenndable by anybody. No, what bothered me was the fact that the rush let Rivers threw as much as he pleased. The CBs can’t do it by themselves.

Smith & Co. have some work to do.


August 30th, 2009
1:13 pm

Jesus H Christ you think this sorry newspaper could front a STORY OF THE GAME rather than some existential hand-wringing about the new defense?


D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 30th, 2009
1:14 pm

J. Rock is Norwood. But this is not the newspaper. Please go buy one, though!!!


August 30th, 2009
1:20 pm

I am a huge Falcons fan and keep up with blogs and newspaper stories every day. I have never heard about a dude named J. Rock? What a riot!


August 30th, 2009
1:21 pm

However, I did know who you were talking about.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 30th, 2009
1:26 pm

ROSS: Here’s you game story.

Mountain_Jim: Chris Owens returned to action after his injury. Need to ask if he was hurt if he went back in the game. Agreed? Thomas Brown fell on the back of his knee. Post-game injury concerns were Jerious :”J-Rock” Norwood and Williams Moore.


August 30th, 2009
1:42 pm

Matt Ryan certainly did not have his best game last night There was just no energy or any rhythm on either side of the ball. Coach Smith was royally chewing the defense’s a$$ after the 2nd Charger TD where they converted four third downs in a row all with LONG yardage.He was livid. Defense was somewhat better in 2nd half. Third TD by SD that was reviewed was questionable call also. Last year early the D was suspect also, so maybe it can be turned around in 2 weeks. The new video boards are awesome and offer much better field perspective.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

August 30th, 2009
1:51 pm

THE ORIGIN OF J-ROCK: They’ve only been calling him that for the last eight years. Started back at Mississippi State. J as in JERIOUS. ROCK as is SOLID AS A ROCK. EQUALS — J. ROCK.


August 30th, 2009
2:02 pm

OK… the spectacular catches over Houston and Grimes on third down plays were certainly discouraging, but the screen pass for a touchdown on third and long was awful on every level. The Falcons looked as if they had never defended such a play before. I bet Brian VanGorder had some bad dreams last night: “It’s called a screen pass coach. Be afraid… be very afraid.” With so much youth and a lack of front line talent at some key spots, the Falcons are going to have to gamble with blitzes and stunts. They will be burned by good quarterbacks every once in a while. This just happens to be the first real gunslinger they have faced.


August 30th, 2009
2:05 pm

On a serious note. What in the world are The Falcons gonna do about Chris “What were U thinkin” Houston? He nearly cost us the game against the Bears last year by letting the reciever behind him in the endzone. In that situation, he let the only thing that could hurt us happen. Last night, it happened again on 3rd and 18. You cant let these recievers get behind you in these kind of situations. Atleast Grimes is in position during these times while getting beat