Q&A: Sharper tells how they shut down the Falcons

New Orleans

Falcons running back Michael Turner (right) gets stopped for no gain by New Orleans Saints Jo-Lonn Dunbar (left) in the first half. Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com

Falcons running back Michael Turner (right) gets stopped for no gain by New Orleans Saints Jo-Lonn Dunbar (left) in the first half. Jason Getz / jgetz@ajc.com

Saints safety Darren Sharper played a key role in shutting down the Falcons offense on Monday night.

He played over the top of Roddy White and helped hold him to three catches for 42 yards.

Here’s what he had to say about the Falcons’ offense after the game.

Q: What was the key to shutting down the Falcons passing attack?
A: The main thing is that we knew who they were going to try to get the ball to. We keyed on certain players. But I think the main thing overall was that we had good coverage overall as a secondary. We have guys that can cover. That’s our strength as a team. They kind of played into our hands.

Q: How did you all stop the run after giving up 208 yards last week?

A: “That was one of our goals. We knew if we didn’t tackle well. It was our goal this week to not allow them to rush the ball. We knew with Michael Turner that was going to be a tough challenge. Our guys up front did a heck of a job and our linebackers did even better by not allowing him to get going.”

Q: How are you all viewing the playoffs? Hoping to still win the NFC South title?

A: “Well, we are in the tournament. That was our main goal. Just to have a chance to be in the tournament. Anything can happen. If Carolina can play their best game of history and beat these guys, we’ll have home field. That’s what we are rooting for. We have to make sure that we take care of our business and beat Tampa Bay, who is playing extremely well right now.”

–D. Orlando Ledbetter

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102 comments Add your comment

yourmomsballs

December 28th, 2010
1:19 am

I just read the article that was supposed to highlight what the FalCONS needed to do in order to beat the Super Bowl Saints… Actually they did manage to do all of the things on the list… but also still managed to LOSE the game… HAHAHA

WHO DAT! WHO DAT!!

GEAUX SAINTS!

FalconsFan284

December 28th, 2010
1:30 am

After two games what have we learned? These teams are very evenly matched. That’s about it.

Realist

December 28th, 2010
1:45 am

The saints can enjoy this win for a few days. They’ll be coming back to atlanta in 3 weeks to face the nfc south CHAMPS. And the falcons may not be so generous with the ball next time.

ATL Observer

December 28th, 2010
1:58 am

Tough loss, there were some positive and negatives to go with this.

Obvious negative was the loss itself. Beyond that, a) when it really counted, the defense folded. That wasn’t encouraging. b) the offense looked absolutely abysmal…they tried to establish the run, failed and were completely lost after that, c) a team that’s spent all year not making errors and ending up with the best record in the NFC because of it made a lot of errors.

However, there were some positives.

a) this is a team that has shown tremendous discipline in the past and if they correct that, look at how close the game was even with the mistakes, b) they also managed to have a chance to win the game even though they didn’t control the clock…many skeptics presumed that if the team didn’t burn at least 35-40 minutes off that the Saints O would march all over them. That didn’t happen, c) while the offensive playcalling was stale and unimaginative, in a sense, they didn’t give away any bags of tricks.

The real key will be: how much will they take this out on Carolina? If they take a ho-hum attitude to that game, it could really bite them. But if they go into that game with a chip on their shoulder from this game, they’ll not only lock up the top seed, but show that they really are mentally in this.

The big question is: can this team maintain the intensity for the whole 60 minutes? I can maybe think of only 1 or 2 games where they have this year and they’ve managed to hold a 12-3 record. But you’ll be 0-1 in the playoffs real fast if that intensity meter drops in the postseason.

RC in the ATL

December 28th, 2010
1:58 am

Well, it’s a good thing Darren Sharper has better command of the game of football than he does the English language. Nice grammar, dude.

And I must say that I think he is a little delusional when he says that pass coverage is the strength of their team. Jabari Greer couldn’t cover Roddy White with a blanket. Could that be why he was open all night long? I LOVE that matchup, and I’m sure the Falcons coaches will take that any day, come playoff time.

The bottom line is this…the Falcons played a very bland game plan tonight because this game meant so much less to Atlanta than it did New Orleans. The Falcons saw the bigger picture tonight. Take care of their business next week against Carolina, and the road to the Super Bowl comes through Atlanta…and so does New Orleans, if they intend to get to Dallas. And on that day, we will see the real game plan employed.

Gotta hand it to Mark Bradley…he called it before the season even started. This game tonight meant everything to New Orleans, and no so much to the Falcons. Atlanta didn’t tip their hand tonight, and for that, I hand it to them.

Would’ve been nice to win, but in the end, Atlanta really didn’t lose anything tonight (in the big picture).

lowdownjj

December 28th, 2010
2:06 am

We’ll see them again I think. Don’t sweat the snap Mud Duck, you’ve earned a mulligan. And Burner, it’s a first for you as well. Great showing by the D though. Especially loved the pressure up front. Williams, dude, you should’ve had 3 sacks! Go Birds!

Reid Adair

December 28th, 2010
2:19 am

I don’t have much interest in reading comments of a player from a team where players stomped on the Falcons’ logo and took pictures at midfield after the game. Of course, after a week of their players and fans calling Atlanta players and Falcons names, as well as their fans using racial slurs and making physical threats, the post-game actions really weren’t a surprise.

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ALame

December 28th, 2010
2:32 am

we need a J.Norwood type RB and a bunch if screen plays……

ALame

December 28th, 2010
2:32 am

we need a J.Norwood type RB and a bunch of screen plays……

John

December 28th, 2010
2:36 am

Stack the line against the Falcons, play a man over the top on Roddy, and you can beat the Falcons…who knew? This team is a fake, 1st round loser…

F Troop

December 28th, 2010
3:00 am

I have a theory that neither team showed the other too much. I picked this up from a Saints blog where somebody thought the Saints looked like they weren’t trying to show the Falcons too much. I KNOW the Falcons offense is better than what we saw. New Orleans defense isn’t anything special. Not holding-the-Birds-to-one-TD special. This looked like two teams who’ve figured out that they will face each other again. The Saints offense looked tame. The Falcons even tamer. Think they both just tried to win it playing lot of base formations. Not unleashing Ryan was purposeful, IMHO.

Roddy White

December 28th, 2010
3:01 am

We will kick yawl azzes next time.

Bart's Boy

December 28th, 2010
3:03 am

I agree John. Too predictable. Bland. Boring. And ATL Observer, what bag of tricks? They don’t have any. I swear to God they attempt to run the same ten plays week in and week out. It works against average teams. Doesn’t work against playoff caliber teams. The “down the seam” 25 to 30 yard passes to Colston out of the slot (that constantly kill us against them!) is not even in the Falcons’ playbook which could be written on an index card. Our team isn’t close to Super Bowl material. It did look like the D was turned loose. Why not the O?????

Coach Smith

December 28th, 2010
3:05 am

This was like a preseason game for us. We will play the Aints again in the playoffs. It will be sweeter to eliminate them in the playoffs oposed to beating them in a meaningless regular season game. We will take care of Carolina next week and run the table.

Ace D

December 28th, 2010
3:50 am

Thank God the Saints won, I can watch ESPN now and not see Matt Ryan being hyped up to look like a top 5 QB (which he will never be). Its very obvious after the first New Orleans game, The Baltimore game, and the last Tampa game that the Falcons receivers are a some of the cheapest players in the game. Jenkins and White are always wide open because they’re always pushing off the corner or safety (illegal contact or offensive pass interference). This year the only two awards you can give the Falcons are Biggest Cheaters or the Luckiest Team award.

DudsaSaint

December 28th, 2010
4:51 am

Roddy White is GAY !!!!!!!!!!!!Good game you fruit.

David

December 28th, 2010
8:11 am

Roddy White is not our only receiver. Spread the ball around like Brees does We have Finn, Douglas, Jinkens Gonzo. Dunta Robinson is a over paid POS. All he does is wait until the receiver catches the ball and then tries to make the tackel. Get rid of this Bum

ctfalconsfan

December 28th, 2010
8:13 am

13-3 and NFC South Champions wih hole field advantage throughout play-offs…

Barry

December 28th, 2010
8:16 am

Hey Y’all:

TOO CONSERVATIVE PLAY CALLING!!!The Falcons should have oppened up the playbook against these guys. They could not stop the Falcons passing game and we stopped throwing. It appears Mike Turner stopped running and started tipping through holes. I am more than sure if he looks at the film, he knows he does not run like that. Mularkey should have stop running the basic dive play with Turner. Their is not deception with that play the way the Saints were playing it yestwerday. They stacked the line. There need to be more isdirection plays combined withe the power runing game. We are getting too basic i our running game. Teams are going to be keying into that come playoff time. WE NEED TO OPEN UP THE OFFENSIVE PLAYBOOK DURING THESE TYPE OF GAMES. WE NEED TO MAKE ADJUTMENTS ON THE OFFENSIVE SIDE OF THE BALL WHEN TEAMS STOP WHAT WE NORMALLY DO!!. QUIT PLAYING “HARD HEAD” OFFENSIVE FOOTBALL. READJUST ON THE FLY!!!! I Love my Birds , BUT COME PLAYOFF TIME WE HAVE BETTER OPEN UP THE OFFENSIVE PLAYBOOK WITH SOME CREATIVE MISDIRECTION TYPE PLAYS OR WE WILL BE HOME WITH THAT PLAYBOOK IN HAND WATCHING THE SUPER BOWL!!!! MAKE ADJUSTMENTS!!!!! DO IT NOW!!! DO IT ON “ONE HEARTBEAT!!”

LET’S GO FALCONS. “ONE GAME AT A TIME!” One game in ONE HEARTBEAT!!”.

I LOVE THIS TEAM!!!!!! LET’S DO THIS!!!!!!!!!

“WE RISE” IN “ONE HEARTBEAT!!” AND WE ARE MAD AS HELL!!!!!!

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is a SECRET from a FALCON FAN!! TELL EVERYBODY!!!!!!!!!!!

………………….”ONE HEARTBEAT,BABY!!!”……………..

Falster

December 28th, 2010
8:27 am

Anyway you spell it…the NFC team from New Orleans is still…”the AINTS”!!!! :)

The Joker...

December 28th, 2010
8:31 am

Ladies and Gentleman, its the game of (American) Football, things happen, some good, some bad, while so many are frustrated, irritated, and ready to punch the first sAINT Fan that they see….I personally look at this as a great lesson for the Falcons (Offense), lets face it, we were probably bound to lose one more game in pursuit of a Super Bowl Victory, this loss to the sAINT’S( who really needed this win a little more) will help the Falcons as they go in to the playoffs with homefield advantage. For example, do you really think Todd McClure and M. Turner would dare to make critical fumbles like the one’s from last night after getting cursed out in film session this upcoming week? Also, the defense look very good, against one of the premiere QB’s in the league, this could be just the boast of confidence that the D needs to get over the hump. Trust me Falcon Fans, this was just one loss, and unfortunately it just occurred to our arch rivals, but the Falcon Nation will prevail, I only pray that we can see this team again in the playoffs… This BATTLE isn’t over yet…….

Martin

December 28th, 2010
8:32 am

Rc in the atl- yes dude you are right, the falcants needed last night’s game more then the saints, you guys should be comedians. It just goes to show, shut down the run, and you shut down the falcants. Sure your team might win the NFC south, only because of our gift in week three, but guess what that’s how the ball bounces. I just wished you guys would stop with all the talk, like your team are super bowl champions. Why, because you guys cone off as haters and jealous people.

Jborodawg

December 28th, 2010
8:32 am

“…the Falcons played a very bland game plan tonight because this game meant so much less to Atlanta than it did New Orleans. The Falcons saw the bigger picture tonight…”

I beg to differ. It was a very important, huge game…for both teams. We always want to beat the Saints. Always. Especially last night in order to wrap up home field; and to do it against that perennial foe.

No running game. Was it bland play calling or NO D? Not much of a passing game. Was it bland play calling or NO D? It wasn’t so much “bland play calling” as it was just lack of execution and predictability. NO (and everybody else) knows we’re gonna throw to Roddy and Tony in tight situations. I guess you can call it “bland” since that’s what we’ve done all season.

Pretty good D the whole game until that last NO go-ahead scoring drive. Suddenly we stopped trying to pressure Brees. No pressure at all on that drive; not a single blitz.

To think the Falcons weren’t trying to win that game…and were saving it for Carolina (and the playoffs) is almost laughable. The object is to win games…every game. Otherwise, why play Roddy, Tony or Burner at all? Why not play the backup QB?

Face it, NO played like champions on the go-ahead drive. We couldn’t move the ball on our last-gasp drive. Matt and the Falcons usually come thru in those situations. Not last night. NO was the better team.

Now…move on to the Carolina game and whip some a$$.

Steve

December 28th, 2010
8:34 am

If y’all want to complain about something, complain about the horrible refs in this game. What was 3rd and inches should have been a 3rd and at least a yard. This had to be the worse Ref group in the history of the NFL. Not to mention that phantom pass interference call on both players that stopped the earlier drive.

Rico as in Puerto

December 28th, 2010
8:35 am

Hats off to the saints – even though they’re still the punks we know they are. Even though I did not say it yesterday, I felt we would keep it very vanilla and not show any hands since we didn’t really need this game. It does make sense – you’re almost assured to win the NFC Championship we’ll have to face the saints again. So save your best game plan and the plays for then. This was a great learning game. We certainly learned what not to do on offense. No excuse for the turnovers. We also learned the D can really play anyone. This was supposed to be a high powered offense fighting for their playoff chances – and we hold them to 17 points out of which 7 were a gift from the first turnover. If the D keeps it up we’re going far this year!

Keith Mercer

December 28th, 2010
8:37 am

If the Saints could not cover White, why did the Falcons stop throwing the ball to him. Also, where was the fabulous punt and kick-off returns. The errors made by the Falcons did not add up to very much, good teams find a way to overcome them. Michael Turner looked like his head was somewhere else, he did not even try to turn the corner on one run, and he had no acceleration on some running plays. Not good.

Rico as in Puerto

December 28th, 2010
8:37 am

Joker I am glad not to be the only one to see it like that

Martin

December 28th, 2010
8:45 am

Falster- if we are the aints, with a super bowl ring, then tell me what does that make your sorry team? Let’s see a team that just won back to back winning season since their franchise existed. A fan base that come up with that we dat bs, then when the saints takes the lead, your fans exit the Georgia dome with three minutes left in the game. I mean you would have thought you were in the library as quiet as you guys were, exiting the Georgia dome. Last but not least, I think your team should be called the fal-cants, because the can’t get it done. So when you call us the aints, say it with some respect. Say it like this, AINT that the team that won the super bowl last year. AINT that the team that just continues to beat us in the Georgia dome. AIN’t that the team that over the last 11 games has a 9-2 record against our sorry fal-cants. Say it with respect dude. Now let me say, ain’t the fal-cants paper- want to be like the saints, super bowl champions. I rest my case, HATERS

The Joker...

December 28th, 2010
8:45 am

Martin

December 28th, 2010
8:32 am
Rc in the atl- yes dude you are right, the falcants needed last night’s game more then the saints, you guys should be comedians. It just goes to show, shut down the run, and you shut down the falcants. Sure your team might win the NFC south, only because of our gift in week three, but guess what that’s how the ball bounces. I just wished you guys would stop with all the talk, like your team are super bowl champions. Why, because you guys cone off as haters and jealous people.

Martin,

First off, the sAINT’s did need this game more, even though the Falcons would have loved to have clinched home field advantage in this game against their arch rivals….Second, there are NO gifts in professional football!!! I got so sick of ESPN acting like the sAINT’S gave the Falcons that victory in week 3, it was clear in that game that the Falcons gave the sAINT’S easy opportunities to score(such as in the game last night) and that first game should have NEVER been in overtime in the first place, but ESPN isn’t going to talk about that… Third, Falcon Fans being Haters and Jealous? As rivals, Yes..We do not like the sAINT’S but we respect them as fellow southerner’s should, they are our divisional foe and have been for several years…each year we travel to one another’s stadium(DOME) and give each other hard times on blogs such as this one….welcome to the world of Professional Football Martin, have a great day!

Falster

December 28th, 2010
8:58 am

Anyway you spell it…the NFC team from New Orleans is still…”the AINTS”!!!! :) :) :)

stendek

December 28th, 2010
9:09 am

Only long time Falcon followers understand how truly depressing and devastating this defeat at the Georgia Dome was. This setback has far reaching implications. Goes far deeper than simply a tough loss to a decent team. Far deeper…

http://stendek77.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/falcon-offense-no-show-in-home-loss-to-saints/

Fans with the team since 1966 know exactly what I mean. :( :( :( :( STENDEK

Go Bucs

December 28th, 2010
9:12 am

Martin
“then tell me what does that make your sorry team” makes us the team that has beaten your team 45 times
“I just wished you guys would stop with all the talk” I think you’re confused, Martin. This is a Falcons blog.

JOeFalcone

December 28th, 2010
9:17 am

I thought The Facons Defense really showed up last night, but where was the offense?! I did not see much of Matt Ryan on the field since the start of 2nd half, when you are three and out quickly and your star quarterback is idling on the sideline most of the time, that spells trouble. And when we could have blown the aints away at their one yard line, who made the stupid play call to have Michael Turner keep running into walls of people and ended up fumbling the ball?! There has got to be better ways to score a touch down than that.

PlanB

December 28th, 2010
9:17 am

I agree with Jborodawg. We did need to win this game. Just for respect. Good job on the pass rush. Good job DC-BVG. Brian Williams, you ran past Brees 3 times. Work on what to do when you get to him. We lost to a good team that got all the breaks by 3 points. We also made 2 big mistakes. The snap and the fumble on the 1. I’m proud we have had so few of these. This is a good team.

Now the negative. I think we are held back by our unimaginative OC – MM. Game after game, it is run up the middle. This works alot but what do you when it doesn’t? MM sure doesn’t know.

BigTimeTECHFan

December 28th, 2010
9:18 am

Defense won it for the Saints and all the media talked about was Drew Brees. Brees is the one that kept the falcons in the game.

Anyway hates off to the Saints, defense showed up, stopped Turner, won the game despite Brees.

Hope Birds can win Next week, become NFC South champs, Saints will be 2nd place to the Falcons.

ATLFalconFister

December 28th, 2010
9:26 am

who dat is soooooooo ignorant

Keith

December 28th, 2010
9:26 am

From the officiating to the shanked punts that rolled an additional 30 yards, the Saints seem to have all the breaks. Then you factor in the two turnovers by the Falcons (esp. Turner’s), and that’s most of the game.

JOeFalcone

December 28th, 2010
9:31 am

And when John Abraham intercepted Brees’ pass at their 45 yard line, why didn’t we go for 4th down (and at least a field goal) and instead settled for a punt?! I thought the offense squandered a great effort made by our Denfense. Saddly, that seems to be the theme the whole night.

gadome

December 28th, 2010
9:32 am

The defense played a good game the offense played not to lose which they did. Every body knew they were going to run Turner up the middle with eitgh Aints players waiting to tackle him. Sad thing was they didn’t have to tackle Turner cause he couldn’t past his own offensive line. Not a dis on Turner a dis on the coaches who repeatley kept trying to run Turner in this way. This form of play came up earlier in the year and they made adjustments but last night they returned to their same hard headed way of running the ball. They just assumed that if they keep trying that Turner is going to eventually bust one for a long gainer but they failed.

Trey

December 28th, 2010
9:40 am

Well, I learned one thing. Saints may have one, but the fans are still ignorant. “Who Dat”? They also have to spell “Go” as “Geaux”; just because of that French crap.

Trey

December 28th, 2010
9:41 am

Anyway, one game win away to clinch the NL South! Let’s go Falcons!

Trey

December 28th, 2010
9:42 am

Thanks for the article, DOL!

Who dat?

December 28th, 2010
9:43 am

You think Roddy is talking crap on Twitter right now? LMAO!!!!!!!!!

Nick P.

December 28th, 2010
9:45 am

what I am confused about was howcome like 8-9 times the saints offense snapped the ball without are defense even being set yet? it was so frustrating to know its coming, but the defense is still in a huddle, why does the defense huddle? how come we were caught off guard so many times? after about once or twice dont they see it coming and arent they prepared for it now? apparently not!

Nick P.

December 28th, 2010
9:48 am

boy we could have used a jerrious norwood like speedy back for this game, turner is not speedster, cutting corners, he has to have a path down the middle, or else he is oushed out or stuffed.

Trey

December 28th, 2010
9:50 am

Who’s that? I don’t know, but I do know; your team is still in second place.

Trey

December 28th, 2010
9:51 am

Nick P., I said the same thing. I’d rather let Matt Ryan run over Michael Turner.

Von

December 28th, 2010
10:08 am

Enter your comments here

GameReviewer

December 28th, 2010
10:22 am

I blame ONLY the play calling. Beyond POOR. Let’s see now. Ball on the one, 11 guys in the box, hmmm…. what do we do? I know, let’s run it twice up the middle with the guy who hasn’t made 2 yards all game. Yeah, that’s it.

Mularkey needs to GO! The Falcons wouldn’t need all these last second miracles if we had someone who was able to ADAPT to the situation. If Turner is not working, try something else. Obviously, they are KEYING on him and also on Roddy White.