Archive for October, 2009

Who Dat? Secondary playing well for Saints

Last season the Saints went for the jugular on the first play of the game, throwing deep to the speedy Devery Henderson. But Falcons safety Erik Coleman was over the top for the interception. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

Last season the Saints went for the jugular on the first play of the game, throwing deep to the speedy Devery Henderson. But Falcons safety Erik Coleman was over the top for the interception. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

THE BRANCH – The Falcons and Saints were in the same predicament this offseason.

They were making changes in the secondary and were looking for cornerbacks and safeties.

The Saints elected to sign ball-hawking safety Darren Sharper and cornerback Jabari Greer during free agency.

Both moves have paid off for the Saints. Sharper has six interceptions and returned three for touchdowns. Greer, the former University of Tennessee standout, is off to a good start.

With the secondary holding up, New Orleans’ new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has implemented his more

The Thomas Wade Landry statue outside to Cowboys Stadium.

The Thomas Wade Landry statue outside to Cowboys Stadium.

aggressive approach.

Now, the Saints appear to have a defense to match their high-scoring offense and are the only undefeated team in the NFC at …

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5 things we learned from the Dallas game

Tony Romo ducks out of sack attempt by Jonathan Babineaux. (Louis Deluca/Dallas Morning News)

Tony Romo ducks out of sack attempt by Jonathan Babineaux. (Louis Deluca/Dallas Morning News)

DIRTY BIRDLAND – Let’s get right to the point.

Five things we learned from the Dallas game.

1. STAY ON THE SCRIPT: The opening drive was a masterpiece. The Falcons script their first 15 plays.

When the offense went “off script,” it grinded to a halt.

“Second drive, we went out and had two drops and the penalty,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said.

Wonder why you can’t “stay on script” if the script is working?

“They came back and made some adjustments,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “They played well up front and in the secondary. It’s frustrating because we feel like we can play better. But that’s a good defense that we played.”

Miles Austin shown here, pulling away from Brent Grimes. (Louis Deluca/Dallas Morning News).

Miles Austin shown here, pulling away from Brent Grimes. (Louis Deluca/Dallas Morning News).

2. WHERE WAS THE NO-HUDDLE?: The Falcons didn’t go to their vaunted no-huddle attack. The one that served them so well against the Chicago Bears. The one they scored two …

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Falcons to face the “Brooking factor” against Cowboys

THE BRANCH — For the second week in a row, the Falcons will face a team coming off a bye week.

Dallas linebackers Bradie James (56) and Keith Brooking (51) in training camp. Brooking, the former Falcons, leads the Cowboys in tackles. (ERIC GAY/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Dallas linebackers Bradie James (56) and Keith Brooking (51) in training camp. Brooking, the former Falcon, leads the Cowboys in tackles. (ERIC GAY/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A quick start will likely be necessary against the Dallas Cowboys, who appear to be losing confidence in Tony Romo’s passing ability. A big early lead will force the Cowboys to go away from their talented fleet of running backs – Felix Jones, Marion Barber and Georgia Tech and Lovejoy High’s own Tashard Choice.

How many tackles with Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking get against the Falcons?

  • 26
  • 13
  • 7
  • 2, but the Cowboys will pad his stats and give him 10

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The magic of the bye week is that Jones and Barber are now healthy. While Jones and Barber were out, Choice was making a strong case for starter status. It’s no secret that the Cowboys are going to try to power the ball at …

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Falcons handle their business vs. Bears

The cheerleaders weren't the only folks dressed in pink in support of Breat Cancer awareness. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

The cheerleaders weren't the only folks dressed in pink in support of Breast Cancer awareness. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

DIRTY BIRD LAND – In the aftermath of the victory over the Chicago Bears, the Falcons were not rejoicing like they’d won a big game.

It was more a business-like tone in the locker room after the game.

Coach Mike Smith was in a good mood, but noted that several mistakes were made.

Pro Bowler Roddy White wasn’t too impressed with the victory that pushed the Falcons to 4-1 for the first time since the 2004 season.

“We just did enough to win I think,” White said.

The biggest play for the Falcons might have been the 62-yard kickoff return by Eric “The Whizzer” Weems. He received  good blocks on the return from tight end Keith Zinger and cornerback Chris Owens.

“That was key for us,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “Eric did a great job all night. That was a great play by Eric.”

The offense got out of a funk when it went to the no huddle in the second …

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Cutler has conquered the Georgia Dome vs. Smitty

The BranchJay Cutler is thinking about re-naming the Georgia Dome, “Cutler’s Castle.”

The Falcons have a custom designed AirTran Airways designed plane as part of a sponsorhip program with the airline company.

The Falcons have a custom AirTran Airways designed plane as part of a sponsorhip program with the airline company.

Under second-year head coach Mike Smith, the Falcons are 9-1 at the Georgia Dome. Cutler has been the only quarterback to get out of the place with a victory.

Last season, before he whined and hissed his way out of Denver, Cutler tossed a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end  Daniel Graham with 5:35 left to secure a 24-20 victory.

The Falcons had a shot to win, but Matt Ryan couldn’t pull of the dramatic touchdown drive in that game. He obviously had too much time.

His specialty is the 11-second thriller.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that Cutler is now the quarterback of the Chicago Bears and he’s up to his old tricks.

Granted Matt Hasselbeck wasn’t playing, but Cutler took the Bears into Seattle and beat our old pal Jim Mora and the Seattle Seahawks 25-19 …

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FALCONS: 5 things we learned from the San Fran Beatdown

In the final seconds, 49ers were already beat down. (D. ORLANDO LEDBETTER/AJC)

In the final seconds, the 49ers were already beatdown. The fans had retreated to the Candlestick parking lots. (D. ORLANDO LEDBETTER/AJC)

DOCK OF THE BAY – The Falcons left their home in Flowery Branch, Georgia, headed for the Frisco Bay on Friday.

They were just sitting on the dock of the bay, ready to make this place their home.

They got off to a 14-0 start, but when it looked like the 49ers were going to storm back, the offense threw down a 21-point barrage.

After losing to New England, the Falcons felt they had nothing to live for. It was looking like, with the running game sidetracked, that nothing was going to come their way.

But instead of just sitting on the dock of the bay at Candlestick Park, the Falcons dealt out a 45-10 whipping, unknowingly paying tribute to Macon native Otis Redding and his classic hit.

Here are five things we learned in that victory that pushed them to 3-1.

1. Roddy White is not a possession receiver!: After holding out for nine days in …

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Coach Smith previews the 49ers game

This was "Hat Day" during training camp. Coach Smith is on the left. Yours truly on the right. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

This was "Hat Day" during training camp. Coach Smith is on the left. Yours truly on the right. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

THE BRANCH – The Falcons head coach Mike Smith stops by the blog this week to shed some insights into the game with the San Francisco 49ers.

The reigning Coach of the Year and the rest of  team will leave for San Francisco on Friday around 5 p.m. They’ll land around 10 p.m. and have dinner.

How many yards will Falcons running back Michael Turner rush for against the 49ers?

  • More than 100 yards
  • More than 150 yards
  • More than 200 yards
  • Less than 100 yards

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“Leaving early, will allow the Falcons to go through their regular Saturday routine and then treat Sunday like a normal East Coast 4 p.m. start.

He’s impressed with how they are playing under Coach Mike Singletary. Check on this NFL.Com clip from the 49ers 35-0 pasting of the St. Louis Rams last week. They clearly are not the most talented team, but have played …

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Are the Falcons concerned about the defensive line?

Falcons linebacker Stephen Nicholas (54) discusses the importance of keeping fit with kids. (By PHIL SKINNER / PSKINNER@AJC.COM

Falcons linebacker Stephen Nicholas (54) discusses the importance of keeping fit with kids as part of the team's Hometown Huddle program. (By PHIL SKINNER / PSKINNER@AJC.COM

THE BRANCH –  There are very few  guaranteed contracts in the National Football League.

You have to play to earn your pay.

Which defensive linemen should the Falcons sign?

  • Antwan Lake
  • Orpheus Roye
  • Paul Spicer
  • None of the above. Keep rolling with the current crew.

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If you are not getting the job done, they’ll go out and find somebody else.

How else do you explain the Falcons taking a look at three veteran defensive linemen on Tuesday? It’s either that or they are just doing some due diligence in case  the defensive line suffers more injuries.

First round draft pick Peria Jerry was coming along nicely before he suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Atlanta defensive tackle Thomas Johnson (93) gets into the step aerobics part of the Hometown Huddle program. (PHIL SKINNER / PSKINNER@AJC.COM)

Atlanta defensive tackle Thomas Johnson (93) gets into the step aerobics part of the Hometown Huddle program. …

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What if the Falcons had hired Singletary?

DIRTY BIRDLAND – Made it through the bye week!!!

San Francisco coach Michael Singletary.

San Francisco coach Michael Singletary.

Got to see the end of the Patriots win over Baltimore. Was running to the garage to listen to the end of the Browns vs. Bengals on Sirrus radio in the car. The Denver vs. Dallas game was boring. Doesn’t look like the Cowboys are going anywhere with Tony Romo as the QB. In the night game, the Super Bowl champs had a tough time finishing off the Chargers.

Now, it’s back to the Falcons. We can dig in for the long haul, starting with this San Francisco game.

The 49ers are 3-1 and coming off a 35-0 pasting of the woeful St. Louis Rams. The offense, defense and special teams all scored against the Rams.  It’s their best start since 2002, the last year they made the playoffs.

The biggest question about this game is what would have happened if Falcons owner Arthur Blank had hired Michael Singletary instead of Bobby Petrino back in 2007?

How many yards will Falcons running back Michael …

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FALCONS: Beating the Bye Week Blues

Falcons QB Matt Ryan wants to be holding up a bigger trophy than this ESPY. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

Falcons QB Matt Ryan wants to be holding up a bigger trophy than this ESPY. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

Bye Week Blues Alley – We’ve got to throw out some alternatives for you all to avoid catching a bad case of the “Bye Week Blues.”

Which game will you watch to help hold off the Bye Week Blues?

  • San Francisco vs. St. Louis
  • Dallas vs. Denver
  • New Orleans vs. New York Jets
  • Baltimore vs. New England
  • None, just relax, grill and take the bye week off.

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You waited all spring and summer for football season to arrive and now, just three weeks in, there’s a bye week for the Falcons.

So while Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is visiting his sister who’s expecting her second child and head coach Mike Smith is unplugging and getting in some family time, what they heck are we supposed to do?

The 60s/70s era Go-Go Boots were a hit durin the Falcons Throwback game. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

The 60s/70s era Go-Go Boots were a hit durin the Falcons Throwback game. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

Here’s the plan, let’s s scout as many of the Falcons …

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