Without Matt Ryan, Falcons nearly pull off shocker

SO CLOSE - This long bomb to Falcons wide receiver # 12 Michael Jenkins is just off his finger tips for a sure touchdown as it falls incomplete during 1st half action against the Saints at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009.    Curtis Compton,ccompton@ajc.com

SO CLOSE - This long bomb to Falcons wide receiver # 12 Michael Jenkins is just off his finger tips for a sure touchdown as it falls incomplete during 1st half action against the Saints at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009. Curtis Compton,ccompton@ajc.com

LAST ONE AT THE DOME – They have scrubbed the Falcons logo off of the Georgia Dome floor and are hanging some black curtains on the field.

It looks like they are setting up for some graduation. But they could be because the Falcons playoffs hopes are dead.

We have been getting a lot of Tweets about the two play calls by offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey. It seems that there is a little uprising over the reverse on first down that resulted in a 12-yard loss and the check-down by Chris Redman to Jason Snelling, who wasn’t able to pick up the first down on fourth-and-2.

“We had an opportunity to possess the ball twice in the fourth quarter,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “We had the interception where we made a bad read. But Chris played an outstanding game.”

The fourth down play had been working all game. Redman probably needed to wait for Snelling to clear and get past

Falcons president Rich McKay doing a TV interview before the game in the bowels of the Georgia Dome. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

Falcons president Rich McKay doing a TV interview before the game in the bowels of the Georgia Dome. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

Saint linebacker Jonathan Vilma. (Haven’t watch the tape yet, so don’t know if he had time to wait.)

“Unfortunately, the fourth down completion didn’t give us enough yards to keep the drive going,” Smith said.

COVER-NINE: The Falcons dropped deep in coverage for most of the day. On one play they had nine players in coverage.

Out of a three man front, Lawrence Sidbury was at left end and he dropped into the flat, but Reggie Bush still game up with the third down catch between Sidbury and Stephen Nicholas.

“There was not as many explosive plays in the ball game today,” Smith said. “I thought that rookie Christopher Owens had an explosive play on the third-and-4 over on their sideline. I thought that he did some really good things. I thought that Brent (Grimes) held up well without Chris Houston in the ball game. I felt like we kept it in front of us for the most part.”

REDMAN ON HIS 50-YARD BOMB: Redman and Mike Jenkins should have had two long touchdowns. It appeared Jenkins, bad ankle and all, could have stretched out for a slightly overthrown ball early in the game.

He did stretch on his 50-yarder and ran away from Saints’ safety Darren Sharper.

“They brought some pressure from the outside,” Redman said. “We saw that nobody was deep and I thought Jenkins

The Georgia National Guard practicing for the National Anthem before the game. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

The Georgia National Guard practicing for the National Anthem before the game. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

made a great play. I thought a lot of guys stepped up. Michael Jenkins, Jason Snelling, Eric Weems, everybody stepped up and played a good ball game. It was good to see those guys step in and fill roles and play very hard. We are proud of everybody.”

SECONDARY CORNER: On Grimes’ first pass interference, he clearly hand his left arm around the receiver. On the second one, he should have had an interception. He had just as much right to go for the ball and the contact appeared incidental.

By the time Smith and Redman spoke, Grimes was dressed and gone. So we got DeCoud for you all.

“We matched the challenge,” safety Thomas DeCoud said. “They are the best offense in the league. We stepped up and played well against them.”

What was the key to slowing them down?

“Just making sure that all of our techniques were right,” DeCoud said. “We’ve played them twice a year, so we know what they are going to do.  We had to see it and react to.”

Grimes and Owens tackled well.

“Everybody knows that we are a young defense so we try to show that (resolve) to fight and stay in games against good offenses,” DeCoud said. “It was tight and we played well. It’s something to build off of. We don’t want moral victories, but we have what it takes to play well late in games.”

Owens did get beat on a 42-yarder by Robert Meachem, but had an overall strong game.

The Cheerleaders practicing their halftime routine before the game. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

The Cheerleaders practicing their halftime routine before the game. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/dledbetter@ajc.com)

“We wanted to contain those receivers the best we could,” Owens said. “We know that they thrive off the big plays. We tried to contain that as best we could. We just kept fighting. When the fourth quarter came, even at halftime we knew that we were still in it. We had our chances at the end.”

WEEMS WAS CLOSE TO BREAKING IT: Kick off returner Eric Weems was pretty close to breaking that last kickoff return. The Dome would have went crazy!

“The guys up front gave me some room,” Weems said. “My mindset is that should have went ahead and scored that.”

So did you like the play calls? You like the Cover-Nine? Do you think Weems is going to break one over the last three games?

66 comments Add your comment

Gritz Blitz

December 13th, 2009
10:18 pm

What a tough loss. Let’s win these last three and finish the season strong with a 9-7 record. I think next year we will be back in the playoffs.

Ernest

December 13th, 2009
10:19 pm

Good try by the home team despite missing several key players. Let’s see if we can win the next 3 games and finish strong.

Vick State of Mind

December 13th, 2009
10:24 pm

These next 3 games should not be too hard. We might even have our starters back. Along with a decent draft pick in next years draft. KC will have a pretty good pick for Gonzalez. I can’t be mad at the Falcons for losing this one. I feel they should have had it but you can’t argue with the play of backups. More experience for next year should mean a deeper football team. Hey, the Saints went through this last year and look how much they improved with a few tweaks during the offseason….

cutter

December 13th, 2009
10:24 pm

Mike Mularkey got too cute. Terrible call to run a trick play at that stage of the game. Momentum was swinging in our favor and Mularkey call a bullsh@#t gadget play.

stendec

December 13th, 2009
10:42 pm

Falcons actually talking like they did some damn thing! They lost a football game. Their seventh of this short season! Hardly a reason to be patting their own damn backs or, in their case, fannies in lockerroom. Professionals are well paid to win! Or, in a language thug criminals can comprehend, not lose. No professional team with any pride whatsoever exhibits any kind of joy after a defeat. Especially a home one! Sort of like saying rape of sister was stopped a few minutes after it started. DUH! Losers. Quitters. Zillion dollar one season bust took game off with toe bruise. Smart cookie. No damn leader. Smart cookie nonetheless. Bigshot runner in Bubba Bean mold also sat Saints out. Smart move. His season is toast anyway! Lost his drive. So spare me the apologetic bullshet. That drivel grew old in early 1970s! ++STENDEC++

JackLackey

December 13th, 2009
10:42 pm

We were the harder-hitting team today. If our starting offensive line were intact, we’d have won easily. There were at least a couple OL mistakes that cost us big plays. Jenkins would benefit from stick’um if it were still within the rules. Nicholas had an outstanding game. I liked Coach Smith’s fire on the sideline. I was shocked at how well we covered receivers at times. I’m also shocked at how weak our pass-rush has become. Gonzo was solid; you can tell he wants it badly. Our new kicker looks to be pretty good. Redman, after last week’s debacle, proved, I think, that he’s a solid backup. Last week was probably about nerves more than anything. He was definitely more comfy with a game under his belt.

Just random thoughts… Take Care..

Singletary

December 13th, 2009
10:43 pm

Weems will if the refs keep allowing us to use a wedge…(After the last NOLA kickoff, there was a definite wedge with no call.) Of course, I’m unhappy with the outcome, but we played pretty well.

Singletary

December 13th, 2009
10:45 pm

Oh, yeah, agree with Cutter. Uh, duh, NO NOT on the Wildcat.

falcon fanatic

December 13th, 2009
10:48 pm

What hurt the most was that dropped pass by Jenkins(he needs to be more consistant),the crappy trick play and the bad interference call on Grimes. The saints offensive line was holding all day.

j

December 13th, 2009
11:45 pm

Hello,
Again, the loss of the 2nd round pick is going to really hurt us. I usually do not believe in curses, and we certainly had a tougher schedule this time, but we are bloody cursed! We are never going to have consecutive winning seasons. This is insane. And so cruel.
J

rms

December 13th, 2009
11:53 pm

Redman simply made the wrong throw to the wrong receiver. 4th and short, you dont throw it to your man who is short of the 1st down marker. He had time to scan the field to find an open receiver also. Oh well, we stunk anyway.

retired on the lake

December 14th, 2009
12:04 am

STEndec die a slow death please, Falcons keep heads up win out break the curse and move on.

MartyOMP

December 14th, 2009
12:07 am

I think it was expected that the Falcons Defense was going to go through some “Growing Pains” Losing top drafts picks Peria Jerry & William Moore early to injuries didn’t help. But, the team had to get younger & faster on defense. It will benefit the team in the long run. Maybe the Falcons can go sign a “top flight” cornerback in free agency or draft one. The Falcons haved played hard and Matt Ryan in only going to get better. Have your starting quarterback, running back and left trackle really hurt late in the stretch, but the Falcons are headed in the right direction.

stendec

December 14th, 2009
1:12 am

retired on lake. Jump into that damn lake and drown! Never addressed you. Ignorant SOB! Loser fans like you are why jerks like Arthur Blankmind palm off quitters every damn year. Braindead jerks like you demand no accountability. Close losses sweet to you. NOT TRUE FANS! SO FO! Jerk. ++STENDEC++ BTW – Fans were told numerous times since 1966 that Falcons were headed in right direction. Uh huh! SB – 1. SB LOSS -1. One season out of how many?

nomowildcat!!!

December 14th, 2009
4:08 am

Enter your comments here

nomowildcat!!!

December 14th, 2009
4:11 am

I can’t afford to see this ship sink again. Can’t sleep after loss. New owner, new GM, new coach, remodeled Dome…Same old Falcons!!!

The Grinch

December 14th, 2009
4:25 am

Losing the 2nd rounder hurts, but they can always trade up (we’ve already got plenty of mid-late round “developmental” players as it is) and perhaps they’ll be more aggressive in free agency. This team (outside of the Philly game) has shown a resiliency and toughness when they’re obviously out-manned that has not been present in previous falcons teams. Getting our starters back, an easier schedule, and a couple of good picks/aquisitions will see us a drastically better team next year.

Keep the faith.

ron

December 14th, 2009
4:27 am

both offence and defence coaches need to go, to much talent for this kind of nonsence

The Grinch

December 14th, 2009
4:28 am

As for the reverse at that stage of the game, Mularkey was definitely out-thinking himself (and not for the first time this year). But nobody’s perfect, and he’s been pretty solid overall.

The Grinch

December 14th, 2009
4:30 am

Ron, half the offensive starters weren’t playing and the defense is stocked with bad McKay picks and late-round rookies. Who would do better? They should have lost this game by 30 points but didn’t. That speaks well of the coaching staff.

Heath

December 14th, 2009
5:53 am

Crazy thing about this season is that these next three games are very winable and finish 9-7. Mix that in with very tough last three games for the Giants and Cowboys and you get the Falcons clinching the #6 seed down in Tampa. Heck it is Christmas right????

DangerousDan87

December 14th, 2009
8:06 am

I like what The Grinch and Heath said. Stendic needs to be banned with his crude analogy. The reverse with Weems worked earlier. The refs put us in a hole with BAD calls. Even Troy Aikman pointed out the awful pass interference calls. Good job by the subs. They have no reason to hang their heads. Why not win the last three? Naysayers–shaddup

stendec

December 14th, 2009
8:16 am

undangerousdan87. Another mental midget who loves to mouth off but wants others who says things he does not agree with to be banned. Damn Nazi censorship advocate. Work for White House? Just wondering. Drop dead then go to Hell! If anyone wants anything from you they can beat it out of you. ++STENDEC++

IceFan

December 14th, 2009
8:22 am

WILDCAT? REALLY? WHAT WAS MULARKEY THINKING!

Matt

December 14th, 2009
8:23 am

Stendec, I’m taking that ur rage is due to an over whelming love that you have for our Falcons and ur just really frusterated about the loss! It’s ok, go ahead and vent! ;-) Oh yeah, MERRY CHRISTMAS;-)

cal

December 14th, 2009
8:24 am

Please Please Please……from a fan to the falcon organization. You have to address the issue at hand in order to be successful. 1) Let the OC go, I’m sure Mr Mularkey is a great guy, but his style dose not fit our personnel. (and you know this) He would be a perfect fit if he went back to the Steelers.
2) I get building through the draft, but because we dropped the ball on the secondary this year its no way we will be able to enhance the secondary through the draft. (I wrote before pre season we should’ve picked up D. Sharper). Our corners are terrible, and that’s being nice. Release or trade all of them except Owens. We have to bring in some free agents. (yes it’s going to cost). To even go 500. next year. (You can not win in this league without a decent Defense, and we don’t have one.
3) The draft was terrible because we drafted player that we knew were injury prone at the college level.
4) Put together a trade package with numbers and get back a second round pick. We have to give up numbers because there is no one that we can’t use worth a second round pick.
5) I know after the Vick foolishness the team money and cap room is affected, but due the right thing in the off season.
6) I’ve almost came to terms that we want make the playoffs, but lets be honest a winning season is almost out the door.
7) Mike Smith, we are not a smash mouth team. That’s not even the tone of the city! You’re looking more and more like Jim Mora.
8) Thomas they want say it, but i will. Even NE has went out and brought people in to tighten up there D. A young and old mix, of players is needed at this point. (This draft was not on point) Now without a second round pick in 2010, its going to be very tuff this time around.
9) Please trade Norwood for a pick… he can’t run between the tackles and Mularkey dose not know how to use him. What ever the game plan is going in is what they stick with. (so predictable)
10) Final words: No more CB under 5′ 11, they really need to be

cal

December 14th, 2009
8:28 am

Need new OC and DC!

Same Old Song!!

December 14th, 2009
8:33 am

Wake up folks…. Regardless of how you “kool-aid drinkers” try to spin it, This team is just not very good. The D-Line can not get pressure, ( and please don’t start talking about scrubs like Sidberry and Bierman). The Linebackers and safeties can’t cover and your O is week and predictable. YOur coaches are over rated and your GM has yet to do anything of note. But hey, there is always next year…and the year after that, and the year after that…..

The Real Falcon

December 14th, 2009
9:16 am

To this day I can not understand how Falcons fans can continually accept bad play from our home team. They make excuses. The accept excuses. The team does not sign veteran depth so injuries which are a part of the NFL decimate us. No veteran QB so we rely on one with no play since 2007. He overthrows a TD pass and then throws a pass short of the first down marker to end all chances of a win or tie. Veteran free agent DB’s on the market after it’s obvious that ours don’t have it and we ignore them.
It’s like voting you get the team you deserve. We must demand better!

Oh by the way just received my season ticket renewal package with my price increase for 2010.

JYD

December 14th, 2009
9:16 am

CAL…. I agree with you on all the points you’ve made, TD needs alos to work the free Agency, Teams like San Diego, Dallas know how to pick undrafted gems and that’s an area which we need to look at…We the next three and call it a season and prepare for next year.

gdg73

December 14th, 2009
9:25 am

To Real Falcon: Amen! Amena! Amen! Amen!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 14th, 2009
9:42 am

Stendec: I heard Schultz had to kick you out over there. Is that true?

About to roll the Batmobile out to the Branch (in the fog) for open locker room and Coach Smith at 3 p.m. Send along questions. I’ll pick the best one to ask. (Are you going to fire Mike Mularkey? probably won’t make the cut)

mountain_jim

December 14th, 2009
9:42 am

I want a new OC. This one is Mularkey!

Redmond blew the 4th and 2. Our Hall of Fame tight end Gonzo was wide open on the right flat, as his extra man went to cover Snelling, but Redmond did not see it and threw to he wrong read.

Gonzo had one man to juke for a 15-20 yard play, in FS range already with over a minute left.

Dang that was a tough loss. Officials screwed us on the interception.

mountain_jim

December 14th, 2009
9:45 am

Dang typos… the wrong read, FG range

Real Talk

December 14th, 2009
9:51 am

Why is Mckay still here?

Real Talk

December 14th, 2009
9:53 am

And can we Get Dan Reves in the front office?

North FLA Falcon

December 14th, 2009
10:08 am

I liked how we played. The Jenkins drop was a tough catch but he could have made it. The 2nd pass interference was a joke. We really played tough on their receivers and really frustrated Brees at times. They played the best they could — they are not that good but they tried. Meanwhile the Dline got schooled all day. Can someone please remind Abraham how to make a tackle. He beat his man at least once and had Brees in his sights but lost him. Also we keep getting gashed on big runs. They had several 2nd and short situations. On offense we looked good, sustained momentum in 3 quarters, and still had the 4th quarter spark. Still not sure why we switched to the wildcat. I agree Mularkey has to go. His playcalling is horrible. Early in the game he fakes the reverse, then runs the reverse on the very next play. A few dumb runs up the middle for no reason. Then the wildcat thing late in the game. Folks: for the last 3 games, the opposing talent level goes WAY DOWN so 8-8 or even 9-7 is not out of the question. Hey, at least we have a kicker.

Pootie

December 14th, 2009
10:35 am

Who selected the photographs for this article?

Dandy D

December 14th, 2009
10:51 am

Hey DOL…Kick StainDick to the curb. He’s wasting digital space. As for the Falcons. 8-8. Gotta wait till next year. Again. This is getting painful; like gettin’ a beautiful woman’s stilleto in the eye.

Stuart L

December 14th, 2009
11:34 am

They played their heart out but it wasn’t enough. My congrats to the entire team. Great job.

cdog

December 14th, 2009
12:53 pm

nearly winning is not good enough.the officals and the offensive coordinator gift wrapped an early christmas present for the saints along with matt ryan quitting on the team.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 14th, 2009
1:05 pm

Pootie: I did. Tried to get some shots of the cheerleaders in their Christmas outfits, but came up a little shot.

No questions?????

**Frederick(Bailey)Douglass**

December 14th, 2009
1:27 pm

Well D-Led, there is plenty to discuss this week. The season is in shambles, and team, I would like for you to consider asking Blank, Dimitroff and Smith the tough questions:

1) How in the world did you think for one minute that you were going to compete on this (professional) level with the CB’s that you kept after training camp???

2) How in the world did you think for one minute that you were going to compete on this (professional) level with the CB’s that you kept after training camp???

3) How in the world did you think for one minute that you were going to compete on this (professional) level with the CB’s that you kept after training camp???

4) Did I mention the question about the CBs???

5) Why have we NOT seen offensive packgages that include Snelling AND Turner/Turner and Norwood/Norwood AND Snelling??

6) What happened to #55 Abraham? Please disclose a hidden injury, or be prepared to sign a free agent to come in here and help #71 (believe that??)

7) Given that we have NO #2 Wide Receiver on our team, why was it paramount to rid ourselves of Laurent Robinson #19 for a 5th round pick? We could have really used him this year…

8) Why didn’t we (a professional business – franchise) use M. Vick the way that Philly is using him: let him run around, throw some balls, score some TD’s…trade him for a 2nd round pick in the offseason? Consider that we let him go for NOTHING. The highest paid player in our franshise’s history…for absoluetly nothing.

9) Did we consider the injury histories of Jerry and Moore before drafting? Moore was a spectacular BUST. Didn’t even help on special teams this year.

10) How in the world did you think for one minute that you were going to compete on this (professional) level with the CB’s that you kept after training camp???

These are the hard 10…your LOYAL bloggers are inquisitive.

FBD

Deborah Hall

December 14th, 2009
2:04 pm

Frederick (Bailey) Douglass, I think your hard 10 is a waste of space, I assumed that you don’t like the CB’s. Repetition of your list would be for people who didn’t understand the first time you wrote it

Barry

December 14th, 2009
3:39 pm

Hey Y’all:

Hey Ledbetter. Do you ever get to talk with Mike Mularkey about his logic to play calling? This game, and a number of other games, the offensive play calling stinks. Yesterday, for instance, the deep pass was there all game. Michaeel Jenkins and the receivers exposed that all game. The Saints could not cover our receivers. Yet we kept running the ball. We did not continue to challenge their defensive backs to stop our receivers, as they challenged our defensive backs to stop theirs. This goes on every game. WE DO NOT ATTACK THE OTHER TEAMS SECONDARY, especially on deep passes. We do it once or twice then we stop, for the whole game. YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!! And the last I thought is that you win the game by scoring points. It is like we are afraid to score quick points. WE PLAY HARD HEAD FOOTBALL. Which means we only run, no matter who we play, no mattter how sorry or how good the other team secondary is, and we put on no passing attack packages, because all we know how to do is run. If this is the philosophy of the offensive coordinator, then I believe it is time that we start looking for a more innovative multi-faceted, run and pass, coordinator, instead of one that just believes that his team should run, run, run. THE PLAY CALLING IS TOO ONE DIMENSIONAL AND PREDICTABLE. We have offensive talent on this team that we are just asting. Michael Jenkins, Roddy White, Tony Gozales, and the other receiver, we do not even hear from them during the game. We know they can make plays and get into the end zone. We know defensive backs will get interfernce calls against them to kepp the chains moving towards our Falcons getting a touchdown. Truthfully, I am really frustrated with the offensive play calling and when they call certain plays a critical times during the games. It appears we do not play to “BURY” a team with points, but to stay close to mediocre teams, and or any teams, with hopes of winning at the end of the game. This philosophy “STINKS” and it is costing us the season. We have the offensive talents on this team to do anything we want. Why don’t we use it to score touchdowns every time we have the ball. THIS PASSIVE OFFENSIVE PLAY CALLING IS KILLING ME!! IT IS KILLING ME IN “ONE HEARTBEAT!!”. LET’S FIX THIS PROBLEM. I KNOW COACH SMITH RECOGNIZES THIS TOO. HE BETTER SAY SOMETHING SOON BEFORE MIKE MULARKEY COSTS HIM HIS JOB. THE “PROCESS” CONTINUES. BELIEVE, BABY!. BELIEVE.

LET”S GO FALCONS!!!!

YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!!! JUST WIN, BABY!! JUST WIN IN
“ONE HEARTBEAT!!”

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is a SECRET from a FALCON FAN. TELL EVERYBODY!!!

……….”ONE HEARTBEAT, BABY!!”…………

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 14th, 2009
3:59 pm

By D. ORLANDO LEDBETTER
FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons wide receiver Brian Finneran suffered a knee injury against New Orleans and will be placed on injured reserve for the rest of the season.
Troy Bergeron, a wide receiver on the practice squad, will likely take Finneran’s place on the roster.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 14th, 2009
4:35 pm

FALCONS COACH MIKE SMITH TAKES BLAME FOR THE 12-YARD LOSS ON THE REVERSE:

“It was obvious, while we were getting ready to run that play that they were coming off the edge. Really, I’ll take responsibility for that. It should be my responsibility as the head coach to call time out and make sure that we don’t run that play. Either we call time out or put it in the hands of the Lord and hopefully we can run around a blitzing corner. I take full responsibility for that play. It’s not on the players. There is nothing in our system for us to get out of that play. It’s something that I should have handled.” — FALCONS HEAD COACH MIKE SMITH

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 14th, 2009
4:40 pm

BARRY: Yes, I talked with Mularkey on most Fridays during the season and have talked with him in the offseason a great deal. I think the bashing of him makes no sense and is reactionary. The Falcons had 9 plays of 18 yards or more vs. the Saints. They were gashing them. Murlarkey (and Billy Musgrave) did perhaps the most masterful job in league history winning 11 games with a rookie quarterback last season. They had to gamble to beat the Saints. A lot of the gambles worked. That last one on the reverse . . . not so much.

Falcon Freddie

December 14th, 2009
6:54 pm

“Playoffs?!…Playoffs?…Are you kidding me?!…Playoffs?…I just hope we can win a game!” (Jim Mora Sr.)

SirReal

December 14th, 2009
8:39 pm

Well the playoffs are all but done.lol Let’s see if we can win out. I’d at least like to see a 9-7 year. It would be acceptable b/c we’ve never done it before. Gives me a reason to continue watching….BUT IF THOSE GUYS CANTS GROUND THOSE JETS ON GAME DAY………!!!!!!!!!!!!!