3 key matchups: Panthers vs. Falcons


Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes intercepts Ravens quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes intercepts Ravens quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Panthers WR Steve Smith vs. Falcons CBs Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson: Grimes has been targeted on 26 passes this season, and teams have completed 14 (53.8 percent). Robinson has been targeted 27 times with 21 completions (77.7 percent). Both will be assigned to Smith when he appears on their side of the field. Grimes plays on the left and Robinson on the right. Smith is off to a great start. He has 27 catches for a NFC-leading 609 yards. The Falcons likely will bracket Smith with a safety and cornerback, depending on the down and distance.

Panthers QB Cam Newton vs. Falcons LB Stephen Nicholas: The Falcons had to play containment against Michael Vick earlier this season and used Nicholas mainly and Sean Weatherspoon at times. Newton has 40 rushes for 160 yards and has scored five rushing touchdowns. Nicholas returned to action against Green Bay on Sunday after suffering a calf injury. Against Vick, he had three tackles and forced a fumble while holding the fleet quarterback to 25 yards on six carries.

Panthers DE Charles Johnson vs. Falcons LT Sam Baker: Johnson has four sacks after signing a six-year, $76 million deal in the offseason. Baker has smoothed out his play over the past two games after a rough start. The Falcons tried to sign Johnson, but backed out when the bidding got too high. Johnson spent the first two years of his career learning under former Panther Julius Peppers. After a breakthrough season, he has continued to play well. Baker is playing stronger at the point of attack. Johnson has 12 sacks over his past 12 games.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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24 comments Add your comment

Double Zero Eight

October 15th, 2011
7:47 pm

Looks like 0 for 3 in the matchups as Smith will
burn Robinson consistently.The other matchups
speak for themselves. Sam Baker has been terrible.
Cam will run on Nicholas.

big daddy

October 15th, 2011
7:52 pm

I like big butts and I can not lie.


October 15th, 2011
8:01 pm

D. Led,
I dont think Baker has smoothed things out at all. The only reason we didnt hear his name last week was because Matthews was Clabo’s problem that night and we all saw what happened then. It would have probably been even worse with Baker all night. I’m really nervous for Ryan with Baker matched up on Johnson. Also, how many times do you think Robinson will slip tomorrow?


October 15th, 2011
8:25 pm

Cam Newton will probably have the best game of his career,

JayCool 4DABirds

October 15th, 2011
8:52 pm

Wow, obvisiously I’m the only Falcon fan that has posted here. With that being said Cam Newton will have a horrible game, the line will doble Johnson and if Smith lines up on Robinson’s side of the field BVG is going to allow him to play bump and run.

JayCool 4DABirds

October 15th, 2011
8:52 pm

excuse me…. double not doble


October 15th, 2011
9:04 pm



October 15th, 2011
9:16 pm

Sam Baker is garbage. Why is he still on the field ?


October 15th, 2011
9:37 pm

The Falcons are in that awful limbo of probably not being good enough to contend for a championship, and yet not bad enough to rapidly improve their chances through the draft lottery (and even if the latter is true, it will be at least a couple more years before they can do much at all through the Draft, thanks to the huge amount of picks they sent away to get Julio Jones). Kind of like the Braves, who the past few years have vainly hoped their roster was good enough to get the wildcard and perhaps grab momentum at the right time. Or like the Hawks who, well, never seemed to use ANY draft picks very wisely (I say that in past tense because the NBA is past tense where I’m concerned).

So we as Atlanta pro team sports fans are stuck in limbo as well, hoping that a promising potential each given season doesn’t turn out to be yet another mirage. And when the wheels do fall off (as they did with the Braves in 2011 and the Falcons during last year’s playoffs), the cynicism and skepticism from the fanbase is only reinforced about Atlanta’s teams, to the point of indifference by many. This upcoming game against Carolina may well set the tone for whether the 2011 Falcons can rebound and be the team we all hope they can be, or are yet another sorry disappointment. And if it’s the latter, let’s go ahead and get that determination out of the way quickly; I have other things I could be doing on Sundays. So are more and more longsuffering Atlanta team fans by now, I believe.

Big O

October 15th, 2011
9:53 pm

When Biermann is not playing DE, put him in the MLB position for improved over the middle pass coverage and a stronger blitz attack. I don’t think a Panther RB can keep him off Newton.


October 15th, 2011
10:02 pm

Cant lose tomorrow or its basically a wrap!

With a #1 defense then you have shot with Ryan Quarter Backing for a SB run…The D is 21st!

You can handle the Truth……


October 15th, 2011
11:42 pm

Sadly, the FALCONS are done this year! :(


October 16th, 2011
12:03 am

falcons need to play 4 quaters of foot ball, and not just the first half. We, I mean they could beat anybody.


October 16th, 2011
1:37 am

i agree with mopman, when he says that the birds can play with anybody IF they play with the same intensity in all 4 quarters. Let Matty Ice run the no-huddle for all 60 minutes. Look how well he handled the Ravens game last year. masterful. it keeps defensive substitutions to a minimum. the quarterback can see formations and schemes better than a guy in a coaching box upstairs. so let HIM call the plays. trust your quarterback. if not, bench him and put in Redmond. it will help overwhelmed linemen (Baker) out a lot as well.
Of all the problems the team has faced on defense this year, to me, the biggest one is CB Robinson. He’s a hard hitter; got it. but as DOL posted earlier, the people he has guarded have connected on over 80% of passes thrown to them. TOTALLY unacceptable, especially when he was hired to be a shutdown corner?? come on, dunta. stop trying for interceptions. try DENYING the pass to get TO the receiver. obviously, he’s got the athleticism. I find it hard to believe the coaching staff suddenly traded in their brains for tree stumps. i think it’s execution by the players that is responsible for the crappy results.


October 16th, 2011
1:41 am

AND, as far as guarding steve smith, let Grimes play him man to man. shadow him. robinson doesn’t have the speed to keep up with smith, nor is he as athletic as grimes. smith will eat robinson’s lunch. i bet ya a dollar to a donut, that carolina will try to put smith against robinson whenever they can, hope that he trys for an interception, and then watch smith glide into the end zone.

i COULD be wrong

Bud Wiser

October 16th, 2011
7:18 am

Where has the pass rush been? Steve Smith has always torched Falcon corners and d-backs, and today will be no different.

I just hope that Ryan and the offense can sustain for 4 quarters, instead of folding like they did against the Packers. In the pros, you have to make adjustments, and the offense has simply not been doing that.

Go Birds!!


October 16th, 2011
7:23 am

MS, MM & BVG have been good coaches. They have given us three winning seasons and 2 playoff appearances. We have a good RB, good receivers and a good QB. A deciplined team with few penalities. An intelligent QB that was coached to not make turn overs. This has won games. This team will continue to win games. I’m afraid they have seen their best with the conservative MS tho. We have gotton to a point where we no longer want a winning season but a SB. I think these coaches and their conservative ways have gotton us as far as they can take us. MR’s weak arm is starting to hurt us too. Very intelligent player but lacks physical skills to take us to the SB.
TD’s also has made some mistakes. We all know what they are. I’m feeling we are in to seeing only a pretty good team for awhile.
I hope I’m wrong. I’ve been a falcon fan for decades.


October 16th, 2011
8:18 am

Like a previous poster implied you can shut down Steve Smith by having Grimes cover him one on one. Smith is basically a punk. Grimes will frustrate the hell out of him and probably get a call or two.


October 16th, 2011
8:33 am

Today, I consider myself, a Carolina fan.


October 16th, 2011
9:03 am

GEAUX PANTHERS !!!- i must agree. i think all of n.o. fans are carolina fans for the day . not that we consider the failclowns a threat , we just really like to see the failclowns…fail !


October 16th, 2011
9:06 am

Cam Newton Returns to the A-T-L Highlights Week 6 http://wp.me/p1E3tD-3c


October 16th, 2011
9:13 am

Panthers by 14 points. Remember, the old Falcons are back!

C smoothEpt

October 16th, 2011
10:37 am

No true believers here I see. When is the last time the falcons lost two in row?, and last time I checked we don’t lose at home that often. Ladies and gentlemen, I will take the falcons on this one.

Michael M.

October 16th, 2011
11:51 am

Falcons got 11 games left, they basically need to win all of them to actually be sure to have a spot in the playoffs let alone win the division…………….that means starting today the Season Starts ! Can they do it ?
Of course they can ! …………………………………….Will they do it ? I seriously doubt it !…………..They simply dont believe in theirselves to have that much confidence that they can win the stretch !