Archive for November, 2009

Falcons survive Bucs, several questions linger

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan get his foot examined. (CURTIS COMPTON/ccompton@ajc.com)

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan get his foot examined. (CURTIS COMPTON/ccompton@ajc.com)

THE BRANCH — The Falcons came out of Sunday’s 20-17 victory over Tampa Bay with more questions than answers.

Here’s the list?

1.   Why was running back Michael Turner even playing?

He clearly didn’t appear to be 100 percent and couldn’t finish runs in his normally strong fashion.

“I don’t know what’s going on with those guys,” wide receiver Roddy White said. “We’ll see throughout the week. That’s all I know.”

2. What exactly is Matt Ryan’s toe injury?

If it’s turf toe, let’s call it turf toe. Those things are nasty and can linger. Remember, old Steelers linebacker Jack Lambert retired with turf toe.

With his injured right foot in a padded brace Matt Ryan looks on as quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave confers with Chris Redman on the sidelines during 2nd half action against the Buccaneers at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009.   Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Matt Ryan looks on as quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave confers with Chris Redman on the sidelines during 2nd half action. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

3. How will the offense operate without Turner and Ryan?

“It was tough,” White said. “Especially because those guys are our franchise …

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Falcons consider 1-9 Bucs ‘dangerous’

Falcons will sport their throwback uniforms on Sunday against Tampa Bay. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

The Falcons will sport their throwback uniforms on Sunday against Tampa Bay. (CURTIS COMPTON/AJC)

THE BRANCH – From most accounts, the Tampa Bay situation is hot mess.

Head coach Raheem Morris essentially fired his defensive coordinator, Jim Bates, last Monday. Former Falcons assistant Jeff Jagodzinski, the offensive coordinator, was fired earlier one day before the final preseason game.

It looks like Morris, 33, is trying to do too much or he either doesn’t trust his assistants.

Despite their leadership issues, the Falcons consider the 1-9 Buccaneers a dangerous team.

“I don’t think the record indicates what type of football team they are,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “I think they are very talented on both sides of the ball. They have the strongest special team units that we are going to face all year long.”

The Bucs are 29th in total offense (270.5 yards per game), 32nd against the rush (168.9 yards per game and 31st in points allowed (29.4).

“In this league you …

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Good QBs are torching the Falcons’ secondary

NEWARK – There is one thing that is becoming clear as the Falcons hit the .500 mark.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning had his best game of the season, passing for almost 400 yards against the Falcons. (Associated Press).

Giants quarterback Eli Manning had his best game of the season, passing for almost 400 yards against the Falcons. (Associated Press).

Teams with above average to great quarterbacks are going to feast on the secondary.

Falcons coach Mike Smith won’t single out the secondary, but tighter and more instinctive coverage would probably get more passes batted down or defense.

“We gave up a lot of passing yards,” Smith said. “That’s very obvious. Way too many passing yards. It’s team defense. It’s not just the secondary. It’s a combination of the secondary, linebackers and defensive (linemen). We’ve got to make plays on third down. We continue to struggle on third down. It’s a combination of a number of things. But we can not give up, those type of yards in the passing game and expect to have the success that we want to have.”

Falcons Giants Football

Domenik Hixon pulls away from the Falcons secondary. (Associated …

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Falcons are heavy underdogs without Turner

Michael Boley is the latest ex-Falcons to run some smack at the team. He didn't like being told he wasn't aggressive enough when he got benched for Coy Wire last season.

The normally quiet Michael Boley is the latest ex-Falcons to run some smack at the team. He didn't like being told he wasn't aggressive enough when he got benched for Coy Wire last season.

THE BRANCH – Can’t find any prognosticators who are picking the Falcons to fly up to New York and hand out a smackdown to Eli Manning and the New York Giants.

Even the great Swami Schultz has the Falcons losing, but covering the 6½.

In SportingNews Today on Thursday, all seven members of their panel picked the New York Football Giants. All seven –  Vinnie Iyer, Steve Greenberg, my main man Clifton Brown, Todd Wright, Real Scouts, Russ Lande and Dennis Dillion – had the NY insigna under their names.

Ken Moll of Scouts, Inc. has the Falcons losing 24-20. He gives the Falcons position advantages at wide receiver, linebacker, defensive back and special teams. He gives the coaching advantage to Tom Coughlin and the quarterback advantage to Manning.

That’s usually when things are most …

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Full disclosure on Turner’s injury required by NFL

Michael "The Burner" Turner's right wheel needs to heal. We get an update on his status today.

Michael "The Burner" Turner's right wheel needs to heal. We'll get an update on his status today.

THE BRANCH –- The Falcons need to fully disclose the nature and extent of Pro Bowl running back Michael Turner’s ankle injury today when they release the injury report or risk catching the wrath of the league office again.

Understandably, head coach Mike Smith doesn’t want to give the New York Giants a competitive advantage, but the fans, fantasy owners and the league office wants accurate injury information disseminated to the public.

It’s no secret that teams manipulate the injury reporting policy so as not to give the opposition information that they believe would lead to a competitive advantage.

Smith has been awesome with the injury report and has released information above and beyond what’s required by the league policy. But this year as the injuries have mounted, some of that information has started to dry up.

Norwood could be back at practice today and on the field against the New York Giants.

Norwood could be back at practice today and on the field …

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Falcons: Ryan may have some limitations

Carolina's Richard Marshall (31) came down with Matt Ryan's high pass that was intended for Michael Jenkins in the fourth quarter. (David T. Foster III/Charlotte Observer).

Carolina's Richard Marshall (31) came down with Matt Ryan's high pass that was intended for Michael Jenkins in the fourth quarter. (David T. Foster III/Charlotte Observer).

ONE GAME FROM FIVEHUNDREDVILLE – The 28-19 loss to Carolina may be the low point for the Falcons under second-year head coach Mike Smith.

They have played hard in every game over the 26-game Smith era, but it may have been just the second time that they were defeated when they were favored. (You guys can look that one up, but I know they were favored to win on the road in Arizona for the playoff game last year.)

But the schedule doesn’t get any easier. They travel to rickety Giants Stadium for a showdown with Tom Coughlin and the G-men, who are 5-4 and have been stewing about it over their bye week.

When considering the Falcons schedule this season  — four games against teams coming off byes -– and the aftermath of the DeAngelo Hall incident, it doesn’t appear that the Falcons have many friends at …

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Falcons ready to get on the bus; help Smitty pay the fine

Falcons to ride on charter buses to Charlotte for the game agaisnt Carolina on Sunday.

Falcons to ride on charter buses to Charlotte for the game agaisnt Carolina on Sunday.

CONVOY TO CHARLOTTE – Just emptying the notebook today before Sunday’s kickoff against the Panthers  . . .

GET ON THE BUS: Fullback Ovie Mughelli is taking along his favorite pillow for the bus ride to Charlotte.

“I’ve got to have my pillow,” Mughelli said.

The Falcons are making provisions for the bigger players on the team for what should be a three hour and some change ride from Hall County.

“Coach said  — and I don’t know how he’s going to work this — that we are going to have four seats each,” Mughelli said.

It’s been a while since most of the players have taken a bus trip.

“We flew is college,” Mughelli said. “This bus strip is going to be a throwback. I haven’t had a bus trip since high school.”

By taking the buses, the Falcons should cut their travel time in half.  The three and half hour drive turns into a six to seven hour trip when they drive about an hour to the Airport, …

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Falcons are not getting much mid-season love

MID-SEASON AWARDS: Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33) had a slow start to the season, althought he's on pace to score 20 touchdowns.  (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

MID-SEASON AWARDS: Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33) had a slow start to the season, althought he's on pace to score 20 touchdowns. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

THE BRANCH – It’s mid-season award time and the Falcons are not getting much love.

With NFC South foe New Orleans off to an 8-0 start, they are the mid-season darlings.

Sportingnewstoday has quarterback Drew Brees as the mid-season MVP and safety Darren Sharper as the defensive MVP. Denver’s Josh McDaniels is the coach of the year and they have the Saints beating the Colts in the Super Bowl, 37-17.

Pro Football Weekly has it’s mid-season All-Pro team and there is not one Atlanta Falcon on the list.

Their team is led by Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning, wide receiver Reggie Wayne, tight end Dallas Clark and defensive end Dwight Freeney.

PRO FOOTBALL WEEKLY’S MID-SEASON ALL-PRO TEAM

OFFENSE

QB Peyton Manning/Colts*

RB Adrian Peterson/Vikings*

RB Chris Johnson/Titans*

WR Reggie Wayne/Colts

WR Andre …

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Falcons festive after win over Redskins

Falcons running back # 33 Michael Turner breaks away for a 58 yard touchdown and a 31-17 lead over the Redskins during 4th quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009. The Falcons defeated the Redskins 31-17.   Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons running back # 33 Michael Turner breaks away for a 58 yard touchdown and a 31-17 lead over the Redskins during 4th quarter action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009. The Falcons defeated the Redskins 31-17. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

THE BRANCH – The Falcons’ locker room was quite festive after the 31-17 thumping of the Washington Redskins.

Here’s what some of the players had to say:

DON’T RELAX: Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton thought the defense relaxed after the Falcons got that 24-3 lead against the Redskins.

“We have to keep the same intensity,” Lofton said. “They came out and played ball. We just have to come out and pick

Former Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall, now with the Washington Redskins, gets a warm welcome from Falcons assistant head coach Emmitt Thomas as he returns to the Georgia Dome as a rival during pregame warmups. Things would get messing later.  Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Former Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall, now with the Washington Redskins, gets a warm welcome from Falcons assistant head coach Emmitt Thomas as he returns to the Georgia Dome as a rival during pregame warmups. Things would get messing later. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

up the intensity. We came out relaxed …

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5 things to improve the Falcons pass defense

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Will Washington's Jason Campbell become the 4th straight QB to pass for 300 yards or more against the Falcons defense on Sunday at the Georgia Dome?

THE BRANCH – After the last three quarterbacks have thrown for 300 or more yards against the Falcons, the pass defense ranking has dropped dramatically.

The Falcons give 256.4 yards passing per game, which is last in the National Football Conference and 31st overall in the league. Jay Culter passed for 300 yards against the Falcons. Tony Romo hit them up for 311 yards. On MNF, Drew Brees passed for 308 yards.

The Redskins are passing for 202.6 yards per game, which is 20th in the league. Their yards are so low because Jason Campbell won’t throw the ball down field. Some folks are starting to call him “Check Down Charlie” because he checks it down so much and too quickly.

“Jason (Campbell)  has completed 66 percent of his passes and they have a good group of receivers led by Santana Moss,” Falcons defensive coordinator Brian …

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