Falcons’ secondary makes “progress”

D. J. Shockley (left) and John Parker Wilson (right) could both end up sticking with the Falcons. But one will have to end up on the practice squad. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

D. J. Shockley (left) and John Parker Wilson (right) could both end up sticking with the Falcons. But one will have to end up on the practice squad. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

In wake of another porous performance by the first team defense, the team was bending over backwards to make a point about the “progress” they made against Baltimore from the San Diego game.

Defensive backs Brent Grimes, Chris Houston and Erik Coleman all mentioned the “P” word after the game.

Head coach Mike Smith is apparently talking a “baby steps” approach

Ryan, Wilson and Shockley. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC).

Chris Redman, Wilson and Shockley. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC).

with the young defense. You know, the you’ve got be able to walk before you can run, type stuff.

“I saw some very good things,” Smith said. “I thought we played the run, for the most part, extremely well. I thought we showed improvement in terms of third down efficiency. Even though it’s not where we want it to be. We improved from the previous week. We were able to put pressure on the quarterback.”

The Falcons did get four sacks.

JERRY STOUT: Rookie Peria Jerry made his second straight start.

“Peria did a nice job,” Smith said. “Peria has just continued to get better and better. His play has improved.”

Former North Gwinnett Bulldog Jason Cook scored against the Falcons. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC).

Former North Gwinnett Bulldog Jason Cook scored against the Falcons. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC).

THE SECONDARY BLUES: Looks like the Falcons have to play a bunch of zone defenses again this year. The defensive backs just didn’t hold up in man-to-man coverage in the preseason.

“I think they improved from the San Diego game,” Smith said. “I think there is room for improvement. I think that after that first drive, we had the pass interference penalty in that first drive, we went out and had four three-and-outs after that. I thought we played some good defense. We only allowed 4 yards on the next four Ravens series. Four net yards. That’s a positive.”

BEIRMANN SHOWS UP: Defensive end Kroy Biermann had one of the sacks and apparently will get the first shot at the designated passer role in what will likely be a six-player rotate on the defensive line behind John Abraham and Jonathan Babineaux.

“We are still working on a lot things,” Biermann said. “We are still becoming a team, working to unite and be good. We had some good stuff on the run, some good stuff on the pass. But we definitely need to keep working and keep getting better.”

The Falcons want to be an aggressive, risk taking unit. If the pass rush can get home, the corners won’t be in coverage for that long.

“That’s the kind of defense we are working to be, a get-after-them defense,” Biermann said. “Run you down and then hit you. Get after you. We were aggressive and we will continue to be aggressive.”

Tye Hill (left) talking to Erik Coleman on the sidelines. Hill should be able to help in the secondary. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

Tye Hill (left) talking to Erik Coleman on the sidelines. Hill should be able to help in the secondary. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

RYAN LIKED TUNE-UP: Quarterback Matt Ryan felt the offense had a productive preseason.

“Offensively, I think that we’ve done some things well,” Ryan said. “\We’ve tried some new things in the preseason which I think will carry into the regular season. Individually, I think guys have gotten better.”

But the big question is can the offense become a high-octane unit, while the young defense is working things out.

“We were able to score some points and move the ball offensively over the preseason,” Ryan said. “But again that’s the preseason, again it’s all about what we do from here on out. Our focus is to prepare for the Miami Dolphins and score as many points as we need to win.”

These guys were part of the "ANNOUNCED" crowd of 66,610. (D. ORLANDO LEDBETTER/AJC)

These guys were part of the "ANNOUNCED" crowd of 66,610. (D. ORLANDO LEDBETTER/AJC)

86 comments Add your comment

Russ

September 4th, 2009
12:21 pm

Miami’s offense isn’t that good. The defensive players and coaches will step up a little and the Falcons will win next week 34-10.

J-MAN

September 4th, 2009
1:07 pm

Wow, to actually use the term “Progress”, unbelievable!!!!!!!!! Did anybody see the game, the secondary would have showed progress if they were breathing and had a pulse. Oh wait, they did that wasnt a bunch of bodies just lying there allowing a 3RD STRING BALTIMORE RAVEN OFFENSE to score on them like like anybody could score with my ex at a kegger. WOW, we need a trade mabye 6 or 7. I know this Curtis Lofton will lead the league in tackles with Eric Coleman in 2nd place. God there aint no secondary help in next years draft either in fact it might be the most CB light draft in 25 years so dont expect any help down the line. TD must trade for Champ Bailey or somebody and that means the 1st rounder must NO SUPERBOWL

J-MAN

September 4th, 2009
1:08 pm

Wow, to actually use the term “Progress”, unbelievable!!!!!!!!! Did anybody see the game, the secondary would have showed progress if they were breathing and had a pulse. Oh wait, they did that wasnt a bunch of bodies just lying there allowing a 3RD STRING BALTIMORE RAVEN OFFENSE to score on them like like anybody could score with my ex at a kegger. WOW, we need a trade mabye 6 or 7. I know this Curtis Lofton will lead the league in tackles with Eric Coleman in 2nd place. God there aint no secondary help in next years draft either in fact it might be the most CB light draft in 25 years so dont expect any help down the line. TD must trade for Champ Bailey or somebody and that means the 1st rounder must be trade bait and expect shoot outs and NO SUPERBOWL

Jeepers

September 4th, 2009
1:10 pm

I say 34-24. The defense is still “gelling.”

Dennis

September 4th, 2009
2:10 pm

Progress my foot. Grimes and Houston continue to do nothing of substance. Even Greg Knapp could figure out where to jam the ball with them playing.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

September 4th, 2009
2:13 pm

Definitions of progress on the Web:

develop in a positive way; “He progressed well in school”; “My plants are coming along”; “Plans are shaping up”
advancement: gradual improvement or growth or development; “advancement of knowledge”; “great progress in the arts”
advance: move forward, also in the metaphorical sense; “Time marches on”
the act of moving forward (as toward a goal)
build up: form or accumulate steadily; “Resistance to the manager’s plan built up quickly”; “Pressure is building up at the Indian-Pakistani border”
a movement forward; “he listened for the progress of the troops”
wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

D. Orlando Ledbetter

September 4th, 2009
2:16 pm

With the exhibition season completed, the team started the process by releasing seven players on Friday.

Safety Eric Brock, cornerback Glenn Sharpe, offensive tackle Adam Speer, offensive guard Ryan Stanchek, cornerback Tony Tiller, center Ben Wilkerson and wide receiver Chandler Williams were released in the first round of cuts.
Wilkerson, a former standout at LSU, was the biggest name of the group. He spent two seasons with the Falcons, playing in 29 games, mostly on special teams.

The Falcons need to release 13 more by Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline.

Bill Heller

September 4th, 2009
2:30 pm

We’re looking at 9-7 this year, points scored 395, points allowed 365. A competitive team but still missing some important pieces.

washedup

September 4th, 2009
2:45 pm

I think it’s a bit too early to panic. Trying different people in different situations is a little different from game-planning for an opponent. And we still don’t know how well the pass rush is going to develop if “you know who” isn’t getting in the way on the line. I’m going to save my worrying til after I see the first team against the Dolphins.

Observer

September 4th, 2009
2:47 pm

Seems to me the Falcons need to have a three-sacks-and-out defense. It’s over if an opponent’s QB gets a pass past the LBs.

Atl Resident

September 4th, 2009
2:50 pm

This defense in trouble. If anyone been watching the preseason games especially San Diego, first team defense right now we have no pass rush and no run defense and that was without Tomlinson. Scary.

Pete Nose

September 4th, 2009
3:02 pm

I say 7-9 you can’t win in the NFL without a defence.

MAD-DONNA

September 4th, 2009
3:07 pm

PROGRESS! Absolutely incredible that the word would even be used for THAT secondary! The worst I have seen in a long time! They will go 7-9 this year.

Pete Nose

September 4th, 2009
3:17 pm

The falcons need to releace 13 players by saturday. 12 on defence 1 on offence.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

September 4th, 2009
3:25 pm

ANY THOUGHTS ON THE EARLY CUTS?

J-MAN

September 4th, 2009
3:33 pm

Cut the whole secondary!!!!!!

Kurt

September 4th, 2009
3:46 pm

Goodbye DJ and good luck in your future endeavors. John Parker, here’s the clipboard. It’s yours now. You’ve earned it.

Brian Hunt

September 4th, 2009
3:47 pm

No surprises in the early cuts. We’ll have to wait and see on the next 13, and the bottom of the roster still won’t be set after that.

MAD-DONNA

September 4th, 2009
3:58 pm

Yeah D.O. Ledbetter, Anderson, Grimes, and Houston….and to the idiot that said JP has earned a spot, well….your an idiot!

Long Time Falcon Fan

September 4th, 2009
4:10 pm

I am sure if you all think about it, there’s gotta be some way you can blame this horrible defense on Michael Vick cause when he was here the defense sucked and no one cared. Now we have a pocket passer who all of Atlanta has voted the best looking player in the NFL, alls right with the world. Hey, why dont we make Matt Ryan a wider receiver or running back or maybe even a line backer and defensive coordinator and if there’s any time left in the game mabye just maybe he sell tickets and catch the football behind the goalpost after he holds it for the place kicker!!!!!

Bravos33

September 4th, 2009
4:10 pm

Just waiting for the other shoe to drop with the 3rd string QB race.

D.J.

September 4th, 2009
4:11 pm

Is there anybody out there right now that we could get at this point to help the secondary? If not there done. I went to the ravens game and saw the San Diego game on tv, Unbelieveable hell I need to try out

Open eyes!!

September 4th, 2009
4:41 pm

This is a 6-10 team! They don’t play the Lions or Raiders this year! And please stop telling me about Tony Gonzales… Her never won a playoff game and he had a QB that passed for 4500 yds, a RB that ran for almost 2000 yds and a big time WR and the best KR in the league. He is a nice player and great in the community, but Hey can not deliver a Super Bowl title if it cam in a bag!!!

Base

September 4th, 2009
4:51 pm

Progress is at a snails pace.You can’t blow up the team every five years and make progress.Blank is just another Rankin Smith.

Sirreal

September 4th, 2009
5:10 pm

Progress huh? Well I guess when you go from giving up 3rd and 24s to just 3rd and 7s….thats considered progress. Our secondary is swiss cheese.

Paddy

September 4th, 2009
5:27 pm

Base….Blank is just another Rankin Smith? Oh, how easy we forget!

Real Falcons Fan

September 4th, 2009
5:28 pm

Great year to wear the throwback uniforms, it will go great the throwback playing style of the Falcons. We can think back to the no winning back to back seasons, and the plays the made the football follies great. Oh well, we are use to it, that is why a lot of us have NFL Sunday ticket, so we can watch football..

Huge Falcon Fan

September 4th, 2009
6:09 pm

Before all the doom and gloom prognosticators take over, let’s give TD and coach Smith a little credit. Let’s see them make the final roster, give the coaches time to install a game plan & remember what they were able to do last year. Hell, have they lost what they had the ability to teach since last year?

Rob

September 4th, 2009
6:18 pm

Arthur as an owner has been one of the great improvements, and his and management’s surprise selection of Coach Smith is evidence of top-down talent we haven’t seen in a long time and for which we should be grateful. No question the defensive secondary was like a sieve, with the players playing loosely and not having the experience to find their way down the field. In part that’s coaching and in part that’s the people on the field.

Shop the personnel who are cut by the other teams and look within the people whom we have retained who could be traded in the next week. This team has immense potential and selling it down the river on the practice/test games is short-sighted.

Now, let’s get back to the defensive secondary. The offense looks great as does the defensive line.

Take Good With Bad

September 4th, 2009
6:40 pm

I dont know where all of You half a– ,negative,so-called FALCON fans come from who knows better yet WHO CARES ALL OF YOU PHONIES WAS THE MAIN ONES THAT PREDICTED 1-15 last year ,an over crowded, bunch of freeloading ,bandwagon jumping, parrasites ,when we progress with explosion THIS YEAR!!!! dont jump your impatient,non-loyal a–es on our wagon again exspecially that immitation Real Falcons Fan Hater.

Huge Falcon Fan

September 4th, 2009
6:47 pm

Amen Take good with bad says it all. Either be on with us now or get off this train and pull for some other team. We real Falcon fans don’t need non-loyal so called fans. As a huge fan since 1966, I always have pulled for the Falcons. And believe me, it’s been hard to be a Falcon fan sometimes. But you just keep believin’ that our time will come.

WhatSecondary?

September 4th, 2009
6:56 pm

Our secondary is absolutely horrible. I saw a pregame show of the Ravens’ DB coach teaching their corners how to run with the receiver and use their body–while looking back for the ball–to force them to the edge of the sidelines. Our corners never seem to know when to look back for the ball when it’s in the air. Maybe they should go through the same drills as the WRs with the 5 sec count to expect the ball to be in the air? TD & Smitty have to do something. The Arkansas picks from Petrino should be dropped from the team immediately.

Dawg in heat

September 4th, 2009
7:09 pm

JPW….yum yum

Dawg in heat

September 4th, 2009
7:10 pm

Sorry Shockley ,but, it’s buh bye 4 you

atl.unc.aub

September 4th, 2009
7:36 pm

Take Good With Bad- i am with you. these blogs have been extremely negative lately. also been seeing alot of people saying that we should release houston. he has been pretty solid for us so far and is still young. i for one am very excited and optimistic about houston and hill playing corner for us. also grimes and jackson coming in on passing downs. that gives us 4 young corners that are getting more experience everytime they walk onto the field. throw in moore and decoud getting more experience at safety alongside coleman. i dont care what we have looked like the past two preseason games, i like our guys and expect our secondary to be solid throughout the year and years to come.

Ken Strickland

September 4th, 2009
7:56 pm

A lot of our fans are some of the biggest cowards and overly emotional bandwagon jumpers in the league. Based on exhibition gm performances one fan said ” I SAY 7-9 YOU CAN’T WIN IN THE NFL WITH DEFENCE”. Yet, common sense should have told them the Atlanta Falcons made the playoffs last yr with an 11-5 record while fininshing 24th overall in DEF. WOULDN’T YOU SAY THAT WAS A VERY SUCCESSFUL WINNING SEASON WHILE PLAYING POOR DEF?

We have more speed, quickness, talent and depth on DEF. We’ve demonstrated a tremendous improvement against the run and we now know we’ll have someone other than DE JAbraham to effectively rush the passer, like DT’s PJerry & TLewis and DE’s KBiermann & LSidbury. Read Smitty’s comments and you’ll see our CB’s were in total man to man coverage, they received no support, and there was no DEF scheming. Like OLedbetter said, we’ll play a lot of zone again this season. Oh, by the way, the fact we played mostly zone last yr might explain why CB DFoxworth did so well. It might also explain why TD and Smitty weren’t willing to pay $17M for a CB(DFoxworth) that excels in zone coverage rather than man to man.

Zone DEF’s can be very effective if you have a solid pass rush and LB’s with the speed and quickness to make deep drops. All this preseason has shown is we might get hammered early if we try to play a lot of man DEF, but that doesn’t mean our CB’s won’t excel playing zone, especially with our new found pass rush. Our GM and coaching staff are far too talented to allow our secondary to stand in the way of the teams overall progress.

If our CB’s and overall secondary plays poorly against Miami, then it will be time to start showing serious concern.

Ex wideout

September 4th, 2009
9:39 pm

Who’s hating on here? Let’s be real, I don’t know how season is going to be but I do know that defense has serious issues right now and that’s scary. I bet some little league teams could run and pass over them right now. It don’t even matter how many points we can score. They need to cut some of defense players including that defensive coordinator VanGorder. He might be problem too. He’s trash, left GA Southern hanging couple of seasons ago and bringing same crap to Falcons.

Lil Larry

September 4th, 2009
9:59 pm

Hey aren’t the Falcons from the Peach State? Well everything will be Peachy then!!! This year really looks like the rebuilding year–instead of last year as everyone thought. I know that everything is vanilla in preseason games; all I can say is I hope they were playing possum and not showing their hand.

Kurt

September 4th, 2009
11:04 pm

LOL at MAD-DONNA. Sorry you’re just a homer pulling for ya boy Shock, but facts are facts. He’s had years to move up to at least 2nd string and could’t do it. He was drafted because he was a local boy, he has been kept because he is local boy, but TD has seen enough, so he is about to get his walking papers. JPW has outplayed him this preseason. No question about it. If you think any different, then you need put the crack pipe down.

WHAT UP!!!

September 5th, 2009
12:17 am

You whiners were pissing on the offense last year but since Smith and TD proved you wrong on that one you’ve decided to piss on the defense.

I said 12-4 in march and I’m staying with that.

Ken Strickland

September 5th, 2009
12:37 am

EX WIDEOUT-your solution to our DEF problems reminds of that biblical passage that states, IF THY RIGHT HAND OFFENDS THE, CUT IT OFF, AND IF THY RIGHT EYE OFFENDS THE, PLUCK IT OUT. Instead of getting rid of players and creating more problems, you work with what you have and resolve those problems.

UGA hasn’t produced much in the way of QB’s since the days of Fran Tarkenton, so I guess that might explain why UGA fans are making such an issue over whether one of their own will win the privilege of carrying a clipboard. Like most UGA QB’s on the NFL level, he just hasn’t distinguished himself so far.

icndark

September 5th, 2009
10:07 am

Oh, Woe is us!!! Good Grief people! The sky is not falling. We haven’t played a real game yet. We haven’t done anything more than play situational schemes which tend to put the players in unrealistic positions in order to evaluate their abilities. You doom and gloom jerks need to stop playing coach and GM (and owner) and get with the program. The “Process” continues and patience is a virtue. By the third game of the season the defense will jell and they will step-up. If the worst happens and they don’t do that, then TD will be busy and the shortcomings will be adressed. All I expect is a winning season with our tough schedule anyway, and that’s gonna be hard enough. Enough with the morons who have more time on their hands than football sense in their heads. Tell me how hopeless we are again…..after Miami comes calling. Til then Shut up!

Bunch of chicken littles…..sheesh!

Myrak43

September 5th, 2009
10:22 am

Dawg in heat and Kurt. Seems as if you want Shockley gone. Does it really matter who is the third string QB. I could care less. Neither one will see the field this year I am sure of that. I am also sure that more DJ Shockley Jearseys would sell than John Parker Wilson. Think about it. Both played about the same….. like third on the depth chart. So which one stays and which one leaves doesn’t even matter. it seems as if you two are just pulling for the white guy. we already have two of those that are better than both of these two anyway.

What you two num-nuts should be wondering is who is going to be in the back field on defense. That’s what I am worried about. Not who will be bring water to Matt Ryan!!!!!!!

Dennis

September 5th, 2009
10:48 am

Every time I read about the Falcons becoming “younger and faster”, I see these images of the opponents receivers *always* looking at the Birds cornerbacks in their rear view mirrors. They can’t keep up with Grandma Moses.

tree rollins

September 5th, 2009
1:14 pm

Now DJ Shockley can move on and become that “NFL Starter” he predicted he will be earlier in the preseason.

I have been saying on these blogs all training camp Wilson looked better and would be kept in place of Shockley. You can go by the stats or you can just watch and see it. And the surprising part is JPW hasn’t really even had the time to assimilate the offense that Shockley has had a long time to grasp.

Shockley Bust

September 5th, 2009
1:16 pm

Myrak43, you just HAVE to play that stupid race card, huh. 4 years to lear the NFL and SHockley looks no better than an undrafted rookie that MIGHT have value as trade bait one day. You UGA loyalists are out of your minds. Jamal Anderson is not as big a bust as Shockley.

richbrave

September 5th, 2009
3:21 pm

Did KELLY make the team? How about SIDBURY?

tyger

September 5th, 2009
3:41 pm

Falcoons cut Shockley…

Hope this isnt going to be one of those ATL Braves deals…we need the best players on the field – the best PR is winning!!!

Lets just pray Ryan stays on his feet.

Boy genius TD is looking very mortal right now. Chris Owens on the bubble? William Moore possibly out for year. Hutchins, Hartsock cut. Grimes, Houston overwhelmed…Tye Hill broken back and knee???

E43

September 5th, 2009
4:04 pm

Man to man defense is not the answer to a young team. it falters the whole unit coz if your not getting a pass rush then you have young corners covering all day. and if your corners begin to loose the receiver the pass rush has less time to work. in terms of linebackers, it is impossible to grade them in the preseason because they don’t get freaks of the nfl as much(Adrian petersons and Anthonio Gates) we will only see in the regular season but for now they have done a great job.
that being said were looking good… coz the pass rush is slowly developing,… while three and outs are increasing and linemen aren’t on the ground as much… i can only be patient and be prepared for disappointing defense only knowing its a learning experience for most of the players and we can only get better…

Unca' Bob

September 5th, 2009
4:07 pm

D-Led,
It’s 4:08. Where’s the cut list??