THE BRANCH — The one thread that runs through the last three performances by Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is that the opposition — Chicago, Dallas and New Orleans – brought the noise up front.
Coach Mike Smith said the one thing about Ryan’s seven interceptions is that he was being competitive and trying to make plays.
You can bet that offensive line coach Paul Boudreau is taking a closer look at the protections.
In the Chicago game, Alex Brown was a threat even though the Bears didn’t get any sacks or quarterback hits.
In the Dallas game, Jay Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware put on Pro Bowl performances. The Cowboys had four sacks and three quarterback hits.
In the New Orleans game, defensive end Will Smith got jiggy with it. They had three sacks and seven quarterback hits.
When given time, Ryan has shown what he can do. When the pocket collapses his NFL improvisational skills are still developing. But note that he did some of his major damage at Boston College while on the run. (Just pop in the Virginia Tech tape/disc/reel to reel from his senior year).
Look for Todd McClure and his posse to tighten up the protection.
And they’ll have a really big challenge against the Redskins’ front, too.
McClure, Justin Blalock and Harvey Dahl will get a chance to see the $100 million man, Albert Haynesworth. He only has three sacks, but defensive end Andre Carter has ran into 6.5 sacks with Haynesworth gobbling up blockers like a mammoth Pac Man.
Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall described Haynesworth as a “menace.”
Washington coach Jim Zorn said he’ll move Haynesworth around. He noted that he’s seen his defensive tackle pushing grown men around football fields and being quite disruptive.
PRO BOWL VOTING : Seems a bit early, but you can get in some Pro Bowl voting on NFL.com. The All-Star game will be played Jan. 31, 2010 in South Florida after years in Hawaii.
REDSKINS AND FALCONS CONNECTIONS: There are several connections between the two teams:
• Falcons Assistant Head Coach/Secondary Emmitt Thomas was the Wide Receivers Coach for the Redskins in 1986 and the Secondary Coach from 1987-94.
• Atlanta Quarterbacks Coach Bill Musgrave worked in the same capacity for the Washington Redksins in 2005.
• Falcons Wide Receivers Coach Terry Robiskie worked in the same role for the Redskins from 1994-98, was the
Passing Game Coordinator from 1999-2000 and served as the Interim Head Coach for the final three games of the season in 2000.
• Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall spent four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons from 2004-07 where he received two Pro Bowl nods.
• Washington Offensive Lineman D’Anthony Batiste competed for the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 and part of the 2008 season.
• Redskins Director of Player Personnel Scott Campbell coached the Falcons from 1987-89 and moved to the player personnel department in 1990 where he served seven seasons. He was also part of the University of Georgia’s 1980 National Championship team.
LOOKING BACK AT THE D. HALL TRADE: Since trading D. Hall to the Raiders, the Falcons have failed to
Brent Grimes opened last season there before giving way to Domonique Foxworth. Brian Williams open there this year before getting hurt, giving way to Grimes again. Then Tye Hill started at LCB last week.
The Falcons have had options at the position.
Hall had issues, but he was going to mature. Should the Falcons have paid him and waited for him to mature? Should they have paid Foxworth last season? Should they have drafted Illinois CB Vontae Davis instead of DT Peria Jerry. Davis had some issues, but maybe the team can help some guys work through some issues.