Falcons at Colts: 5 keys to the game

GROUND AND POUND: Falcons RB Michael Turner tries to break through the tackle of Lions DB Amari Spievey. (Associated Press)

GROUND AND POUND: Falcons RB Michael Turner tries to break through the tackle of Lions DB Amari Spievey. (Associated Press)

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons (4-3) face the Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts (0-8) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Here are the five keys to the game:

1. Keep the running game rolling: The Falcons leaned on running back Michael Turner in their past two games, and he delivered with two rushing efforts of more than 100 yards. This season he has rushed 138 times for 621 yards and six touchdowns. He’s on pace for 315 carries, 1,419 yards and 14 touchdowns. There should be some running opportunities against the Colts. They have allowed 144 yards per game, which ranks 31st in the league.

2. Don’t let Freeney and Mathis get loose: Indianapolis still has one of the better defensive end tandems — Dwight Freeney and Atlanta native Robert Mathis — in the NFL. (Psst: Word on the street is that Mathis would like to end his career with the Falcons.) Freeney has 4.5 sacks and Mathis has 3.5 this season. Over their careers, Freeney has 98.5 and Mathis 77.5. “They are a pair that we obviously have to be aware of,” Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey said. “They [were] talked about a lot in our meetings. We have to be on top of our game with everything we do, run and pass, to handle those two guys. That’s how disruptive they are.” Falcons tackles Will Svitek (Freeney) and Tyson Clabo (Mathis) will get the main assignments. The Falcons likely will chip block or slide toward Freeney’s direction in obvious passing situations.

3. Win on third downs: The defense held Detroit to 1 of 12 on third downs in the Falcons 23-16 victory. The unit must continue to improve its third down numbers. The opposition has converted on 40 of 91 third downs (44 percent), which ranks 26th in the league. Indianapolis has converted on 37 of 104 third downs ( 36 percent), which ranks 18th in the league.

4. Get off to a fast start: The Falcons got after Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford with some early blitzes and that knocked him off track. With Stafford shook, the Falcons took control of the game and built a 17-6 halftime lead. They’ll need to send some heat to quarterback Curtis Painter, who’ll be making just his seventh start in the NFL.

5. Get a hat on Pat Angerer: The Colts’ middle linebacker leads the league in tackles with 89. “He was a tackling machine in college (at Iowa) and he’s doing the same thing in the NFL,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “He’s an undersized guy. He’s a 5-10, 5-11 guy that runs and hits. He’s really playing well for them.”

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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74 comments Add your comment

SeenThisB4

November 4th, 2011
9:37 am

Geaux Colts!

Michael M.

November 4th, 2011
9:50 am

Biggest key to that game wil be to keep the Falcons from falling to sleep ! Enough Said !

teamguy

November 4th, 2011
9:53 am

We should handle this team, but you never know for sure. Not sure who to pull for in the Saints vs Bucs. I think we beat the Saints straight up in two weeks, so it doesn’t really matter.

dean

November 4th, 2011
10:04 am

Seen, go back to NOLA dot com.

As long as ATL doesn’t pull a “Saints” they’ll be fine.

SeenThisBFalcon

November 4th, 2011
10:24 am

SeenThis go BUCS!!!!!

SeenThisBFalcon

November 4th, 2011
10:29 am

The keys to the game will be to Run the ball of course and go off playaction when need be. Also to keep constant pressure on the Colts QB to make him make some bad throws and us be able to get some turnovers. We won’t pull a Aint’s this week the Colts don’t have a Running back or QB at least the Rams had one of the best in the league the colts on have Mathis and Freeney!!!

SeenThisBFalcon

November 4th, 2011
10:29 am

Falcons Win Big 38-10.

BIGBEN42

November 4th, 2011
10:40 am

This could be a trap game. Look at the RAMS last week.The Saint’s didn’t see them coming.Get out front early and keep it going.GO FALCONS!!

D man

November 4th, 2011
10:44 am

Falcons win again this week. We are on a roll again…

Damage Inc.

November 4th, 2011
10:48 am

Seen- at least we don’t have to play the Rams this year. Boy do they look tough!!

Tell it like it is.

November 4th, 2011
11:05 am

Don’t look past the Colts,anything can happen on the road!

SeenThisBFalcon

November 4th, 2011
11:27 am

TRU ANYTHING CAN HAPPPEN BUT WE SEEN WHAT HAPPEN TO THE AIN’TS LAST WEEK WE WON’T TAKE THEM FOR LIGHT..WELL BE READY TO PLAY 4 QTRS….I’LL LOWER MY SCORE 34-13 BIRDS.

Mike is Back

November 4th, 2011
11:33 am

DLed, Great Stuff…I think you are all over it…the BIRDS can’t afford any let downs…at this point of the season.

A nice ole fashion…BEAT DOWN…would be a great prelude to the AINTS game.lol

RISE UP BIRDS…LET’S GO…LET’S GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sosa-Ro

November 4th, 2011
11:58 am

That would be nice if we could let “The Beer-man” walk and grab Mathis next year as a situational pass rusher, if he really wants to end his career in Atlanta.

Ken Strickland

November 4th, 2011
11:59 am

After that embarrassing A$$ whipping that was put on his beloved (S)AINTS by the previously winless Rams, SEENTHISB4 has now been relegated to being a cheerleader for the opposition. The one thing I do like about the (S)aints is their killer instinct. When they go into the 2nd half with a lead, they try to bury the opposition in the 2nd half.

When we go into the 2nd half with a lead, we go completely away from what got us the lead. We become passive and very predictable on OFF and DEF. That’s why every team we’ve played, where we’ve had a halftime lead, has managed to make a strong 2nd half comeback.

It doesn’t matter how good or bad the team is, we always allow them to make a comeback in the 2nd half. Smitty and Co have reached the point were they realize some changes to their approach were needed, but they refuse to commit to those changes, no matter how successful they are.

So they split the difference. They take advantage of the changes/adjustments in the 1st half, and revert back to the run 1st and often up the middle approach on OFF, and the charmin soft, deep cushion CB prevent cover 2 zone they love so much, which has yet to work for anyone but the opposition in 3+yrs.

CDG..

November 4th, 2011
12:44 pm

5 Keys to to the Game:

1.Matt Ryan
2.Matt Ryan
3.Matt Ryan
4.Matt Ryan
5.Matt Ryan

That is all…..

Paddy O you must be relate to Steve O… It figures….

CDG..

November 4th, 2011
12:46 pm

Matt will get off to a very slow start on the road will a couple of picks..

Turner will bail him out again…

CDG..

November 4th, 2011
12:46 pm

CDG..

November 4th, 2011
12:55 pm

Even after that Rams loss the SuperBowl Champs Saints are still on top of our Pro-Bowl led Fal-cons?

Good Job Mr. Blank!!

1 Key

November 4th, 2011
1:01 pm

The only key that is needed is the one that opens the winning door!

Robert08

November 4th, 2011
1:43 pm

I could have sworn the Green Bay Packers were the defending Super Bowl champs … not the Aints.

jay

November 4th, 2011
1:44 pm

They need to shove Turner down Angerer’s throat. Period.

DawgDad

November 4th, 2011
1:52 pm

Why do we keep getting stuck with Jim Mora on the broadcast team? Guess I’ll be muting the TV again.

joe white

November 4th, 2011
1:53 pm

This should be a game that we win with ease,falcons roll 35-10 we will have this one, just hope no major injuries.

hiramsaint

November 4th, 2011
2:17 pm

ken strickland- you been freeze dried or doing hard time. why do we never hear from you after a loss. mommies skirt must be getting thin from you hididng behind it . GEAUX COLTS !!!!

Mr. Swamp People

November 4th, 2011
2:20 pm

GAEUX COLTS! GAEUX COLTS! GAEUX COLTS!

MAGICMIKE28

November 4th, 2011
2:27 pm

Two words, TRAP GAME..

GDawg

November 4th, 2011
2:47 pm

Our only problem will be Jamal Anderson(yeah right). GO FALCONS

rudy

November 4th, 2011
2:49 pm

falcons need to treat this game as a playoff game or go home feeling sick

SeenThisBFalcon

November 4th, 2011
2:51 pm

DONT FEED AIN’T TROLLS….DONT FEED AIN’T TROLLS…..

3rd down efficiency is overrated

November 4th, 2011
3:05 pm

D-Led, seriously…? The Colts offense is 18th converting 3rd downs–essentially middle of the pack. Yet the team has the worst record in football. Conversely, the Falcons’ D is in the lower echelon (26th out of 32) in allowing 3rd downs–yet the team is 4-3 and in the playoff mix. Surely this tells you how useless the 3rd down efficiency stat is…

torgo

November 4th, 2011
3:07 pm

Five more:

1. Avoid being too predictable with the play calling. For example, check out what plays they call when Mike Cox is on the field. In fact, I’ll call it right now – when Cox is in at fullback, they’ll run Turner up the middle, do that short rollout pass… and stay out of the no-huddle. If they want to go no-huddle, they’ll take our new fullback off the field first.

2. Don’t use the DBs on blitzes. Our attempts to have the nickel corner or safety rush the QB never work. The offense doesn’t even have to block them, since they start their rush from something like ten yards off the line of scrimmage. Even unblocked, they can’t reach the QB in time, and they leave a gaping hole in the coverage.

3. Use Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling more in the run game. Every year the coaching staff talks about doing a better job of spreading the load. Yet once again, it’s all Turner. MT has 138 carries so far this season. Snelling, ‘Quizz and Antone Smith (remember him?) combined have only 22.

4. Something the Falcons need to look up: there’s a type of play called a “screen pass”. No one on our coaching staff has ever heard of this mythical creature, but legend has it that it can be effective in slowing down an opposing pass rush, particularly if the defense gets blitz-happy.

5. Mix in some press coverage rather than always giving the WRs an eight yard cushion. Jam them at the line, disrupt their timing, and give the front four that little bit of extra time to get to the QB.

PlanB

November 4th, 2011
3:11 pm

I usually find myself agreeing with Ken Strickland. Same again. I’ll bet playing conservative with a lead has lost more games than continuing the same play that got you the lead in the first place. Sure you may have an interception that can cost you but 3 runs up the middle with the other team knowing your plan will give up the ball quicker than that occasional INT.
Everything about our game is conservative. Most runs are up the middle. Most passes are short to medium. No screens. Our D hardly ever blitzes and we see that it helps when we occasionally do it. MM was a good OC with Pittsburg & Bill Cowher. Could most of this conservatism be MS. Seems to be. He’s been a good coach that brought respectability to the Falcons but I think he needs to let go a little more. Maybe he doesnt because Ryan’s best skills are intelligence and toughness rather than a strong arm and accuracy. Just sayin!!!
Another thing. I have to wonder why I feel better about my #1 WR being out than I do about my blocking FB being out.
Last thing. I watched the Bradfordless Rams destroy the Aints last week. Wonderful game. Every player has an off day. This only shows how bad this team is without a good Drew Breese playing.

SeenThisB4

November 4th, 2011
3:11 pm

Ken Strickland! Find enough courage to get over your embarassment and get back on the blog huh! Good for you.

By the way, I have two favorite teams. The Saints and whoever is playing the falcan’ts! Relegated to cheering for your opponents? Hardly.

Go Colts!

GEAUX SAINTS!!

PlanB

November 4th, 2011
3:17 pm

Just read torgo. I agree with him/her also.

FALCON YEAH!

November 4th, 2011
3:44 pm

The FALCON YEAH Slash Mob will be meeting once again outside of Lucas Oil Stadium at the corner of S. Missouri and Abbot.
Like we did in Detroit, we will begin by duct taping one of the many fat, gross mid-westerners to a barbeque and then taunting them with Twinkies. Of course we will then start our (loving to us/annoying to many) FALCON YEAH chant and music, which we will continue into the stadium until we dominate them and make them hate us forever. BWAH-HA-HA-HA!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgWA_n6M-DQ

[...] The rest of the article can be found here: Atlanta Falcons [...]

SawThat1nce

November 4th, 2011
4:08 pm

The key to winning the game is showing up.
The #1 key to winning the game is scoring more points than the Colts.

PMC

November 4th, 2011
4:11 pm

Would love to see them do what the steelers did last week, and work the TE and the middle of the field. I hope they keep smashing away with the run game though inside and outside for the next few weeks.

DK

November 4th, 2011
4:13 pm

I’ll bet SeenThisB4 does like the Colts. The Aints are one QB injury away from being in the same boat with the Colts so he can sympathize with them. Falcons’ fans, instead of jawing with the SeenThisB4s of the world, pity them. Their run to the top is over and they’re falling fast. I’m willing to bet that the Aints end up third in the NFC South this year and they will be in last place at the end of next season. By next year Cam, Josh, and Matt will each be able to enjoy the two easy games each year while Brees tries to nurse what’s left of his dying career (that is, if Adrian Clayborn or John Abraham don’t end it in the next couple of weeks) and Aints’ fans slowly begin to become reacquainted with the last place position that they were so used to just a few years ago.

The NFC South is made up of three young, up-and-coming teams with bright futures and one over the hill team that is still living on the artificial glory they got a taste of when the league put in the fix for them as payback for not moving the team out of that sewer after Katrina flushed the toilet.

AINTS BLEAUX!!

SawThat1nce

November 4th, 2011
4:22 pm

You can look for the saints to be in 3rd place in the NFCS, after Sunday.
By sundown 11/13/11 the saints will be out of the picture in the NFCS, and on their way to contend with the Panthers for bottom of the division, after the Falcons stomp them down.
GO FALCONS!!!!!

DK

November 4th, 2011
4:27 pm

Good news Aints fans, LeGarrette Blount is back and will play this week. After he gives the Aints the “Steven Jackson” treatment during the game, I hope he gives Brees the “Boise State” treatment after the game.

AINTS BLEAUX!!

SawThat1nce

November 4th, 2011
4:28 pm

Can definitely see them going 0-5 in the next 6 weeks.

CDG..

November 4th, 2011
4:44 pm

“Could most of this conservatism be MS. Seems to be. He’s been a good coach that brought respectability to the Falcons but I think he needs to let go a little more. Maybe he doesnt because Ryan’s best skills are intelligence and toughness rather than a strong arm and accuracy. Just sayin!!!”

A NFL QB needs to be ACCURATE, ACCURATE, ACCURATE….
Mularkey knows whats up. His QB is ranked 26 in yards gained per attempt! Your onto something PlanB……lol
The streak will continue… 0-46 soon to be 0-47…..

Ted

November 4th, 2011
4:48 pm

Seriously, this will be no contest. The Colts are 0-8. Now if Peyton Manning were playing it would be a completely different story. They’d beat the Falcons and beat them good.

FalconDawg

November 4th, 2011
4:52 pm

Hats off to you, torgo!! Well spoken!!

hiramsaint

November 4th, 2011
5:11 pm

dk- 3 up and coming qb’s? i count 2. check the melts stats and you can’t help but to agree he was, is, and shall be the mistake that has, is, and will keep you from a playoff win. thats a trip-meltdown has no playoff wins yet and his career is already on the downward spiral. it’s ok ’cause in the draft next year y’all can…oops… sorry… forgot ,you don’t have one

True Falcon Fan

November 4th, 2011
5:15 pm

@CGD —- I hear you are still looking for J.O.B. — LOLOLOL

Go Falcons

FalconDawg

November 4th, 2011
5:16 pm

I like Peyton too, Ted, but I don’t know that he could beat the Falcons. I believe it would be a good, competitive game.

CDG..

November 4th, 2011
5:33 pm

“in every NFL game a strong arm is required for at least 4-5 plays!” Quote from 1986 SuperBowl winner PHIL SIMMS…

Oh well Coach Clean Shot, what say u? Huh? Crickets………………lmbo………