Mularkey getting offense ready to face No. 1 defense

 FLOWERY BRANCH  – Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey is getting his unit ready to face the No. 1 ranked defense in the league.

Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey.

Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey.

The Houston Texans are giving up just 268.4 yards per game and are second in the league in points allowed at 16.3. They have held five straight opponents to 14 points are less.

In our weekly chat on Tuesday, we talked about how some of the key players are doing, the no-huddle attack, Houston defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and the Texans’ playmakers.

ON HIS ASSESSMENT OF MATT RYAN’S PLAY AGAINST THE VIKINGS: Very good. He had a high completion percentage. It could have been higher. . . Matt is just operating at a really high level right now and putting us in good situations in our no-huddle. He’s really done a great job with that. He spends a lot of time preparing and you can see it show up on film.

ON RODDY WHITE PLAYING AT A HIGH LEVEL: Roddy probably had his most complete game of the year. I say that for just about everything. In the run game and everything, he was just a factor. That’s important in our offense. It was good to see Roddy get involved like he did. He made some plays and he really made some plays after the catch, too.

ON HARRY DOUGLAS’ PLAY AS OF LATE: Harry has been a factor I think all year. He really has played well for us. You can tell (the difference from)  Harry coming off of an injury and coming in here healthy and knowing the offense. We are putting a little more on his plate. He handled a little more when Julio was not in there. He’s really stepped up when his number has been called. He’s been really good.


Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez makes a first down catch in front of Vikings safety Mistral Raymond. He caught a season-high nine catches for 69 yards and moved past wide receiver Steve Largent (13,089) for 12th place on the NFL’s all-time receiving yardage list with 13,093 career yards. He is 289 yards shy of moving into the top 10. (Curtis Compton /

Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez makes a first down catch in front of Vikings safety Mistral Raymond. He caught a season-high nine catches for 69 yards and moved past wide receiver Steve Largent (13,089) for 12th place on the NFL’s all-time receiving yardage list with 13,093 career yards. He is 289 yards shy of moving into the top 10. (Curtis Compton /

ON JACQUIZZ RODGERS BIG FOURTH QUARTER RUN: Huge run. He just seems to make the plays when we need them. . . You have to give him credit for his size, he does move piles. When we needed something, especially at the end of games, he’s really come up big for us.

ON WHAT MAKES WADE PHILLIPS’ 3-4 SO HARD TO DECIPHER: It’s not hard to decipher. We know where they are going to be. They are not complicated by any means. They play the scheme extremely well. They have the personnel to play the scheme extremely well and they play at a very high level with effort and intensity. It will be a great challenge and matchup for us. But they are not very difficult to decipher.

CAN YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM GOING AGAINST HIS DALLAS TEAM A COUPLE YEARS AGO: There are some things, but you just kind of have to look at everything. Wherever he’s been, if it’s been with the Falcons, other guys on our staff have been facing him somewhere. We look back and see if there is anything that we can find that will help give us an advantage.

HOW DID JULIO JONES LOOK IN HIS FIRST GAME BACK: He’s doing good. He obviously didn’t get many chances. There was that deep ball. There were other opportunities there for him to get the ball, but Matt just . . . we were emphasizing ‘take what the defense is giving you’ and that’s been important. Matt did that. But there were opportunities there for Julio. Julio really helped block in the run game. He helped with some of the coverages by getting other guys open. He plays at a high level for us. He’ll have his numbers and his day. That was a day where his production was more in the run game.

Douglas, left, celebrates his touchdown reception with Julio Jones. Curtis Compton /

Harry Douglas, left, celebrates his 27-yard touchdown reception with Julio Jones. Curtis Compton /

WHO ARE THE PLAYMAKERS ON HOUSTON’S DEFENSE: Their front seven and (cornerback Johnathan) Joseph, who they brought in from Cincinnati. He’s having a really good year and has helped them secondary-wise. There are really, overall, a very good defense. If there is something missing here of there, it’s made up for by effort. They are pretty darn sound.

WHAT DO YOU SEE FROM HOUSTON’S CONNOR BARWIN? He’s high energy. High motor. Great hands. He can create problems for you if you’re not smart going into it with your protections. He’s just a really good player out there on the edge.

ON J.J. WATT, THE ROOKIE DEFENSIVE END: I think he’s having a great year, too. This isn’t your typical two-gap hold up (guy). These guys are making sacks based on their ability to get off and shed blocks. It’s a very good defense in getting off blocks and they are very good tacklers. We have to do a good job of staying on blocks and he’s a hard guy to stay on because he’s just so active and he’s very good with techniques. He’s just got an endless amount of energy and he  just keeps coming. He was a great draft pickup and we have to reckon with him.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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147 comments Add your comment

Truth Hurts

November 30th, 2011
6:30 am

D. Orlando Ledbetter

November 30th, 2011
6:42 am

Truth Hurts — Not all the time.

Me Too

November 30th, 2011
6:43 am

“When we needed something, especially at the end of games, he’s really come up big for us.”
What about when we need something to start the second half of every game. At the end of the game, everything is usually decided.

Why did it take so long to get HDouglas into the offense? Will JJones continue to be a DECOY?

“but Matt just . . we were emphasizing ‘take what the defense is giving you’ and that’s been important.”

Do you think New Orleans or Green Bay plays this way? With the weapon that the Falcons have, can’t we do what we want sometimes. It’s called being aggressive.


November 30th, 2011
6:45 am

The best way Mularkey can help the offense prepare for the game is to decide to allow Matt Ryan to run the no huddle and call his own plays the entire game.
Worked well in the last game until the falcons went conservative with the lead near halftime and Mike started his “play-calling” adjustments.

Me Too

November 30th, 2011
6:52 am

Agree Roger!! Mike Mularkey needs to get out of the way!!

For some of you, he means his non play-calling adjustments because based on a previous interview. OC Mularkey is always trying to score on every play and doesn’t need adjustments.

Let’s hope his new home is Jacksonville.


November 30th, 2011
7:00 am

“but Matt just”……is afraid to pull the trigger in tight coverage.

Blue Fender

November 30th, 2011
7:11 am



November 30th, 2011
7:16 am

Getting a 17 to 20 point lead, and then trying to sit on it with with 25 to 35 minutes still left in the game, has come back to almost, bite the Falcons in the arse, too many times.


November 30th, 2011
7:17 am

Another fine morning, and my team is still at their rightful spot atop of the NFC South Standings, in complete domination of their divisional opponents!!!

Me Too

November 30th, 2011
7:22 am

Mike Mularkey one more question please.

It has taken quite a few games to integrate and use the new players into the offense. At Denver, John Fox changed the entire offensive scheme in a matter of a couple of weeks to successfully accommodate Tim Tebow into the Bronco’s offense. WHY are we so slow to innovate? Specifically how hard is it to learn/use a screen pass?


November 30th, 2011
8:04 am

Why do so many of our pass routes require the receiver to stop and then start running? More pass plays where Ryan hits the receiver in stride, please.


November 30th, 2011
8:15 am

I’m pretty sure you guys remember the 1st drive against the Vikings right? It was 3 and out and that was with the no huddle. There was a 3rd and short play and Matt got aggressive and we had to punt. There is a time and place for everything. Our problem hasn’t been being aggressive, it’s been being complacent after a good 1st half.

People you have to understand that the OC has to answer to the HC so the style of play is dicated by Mike Smith moreso than Mike Mularkey. You guys want a shootout, but Mike Smith wants a shut out. If you can score 21-30 points then where is the problem? Atl can score as many points as some of these other teams. They just rather to it in a way that reduces the offensive possessions for the other team. The way Atl plays in the 1st half is how you beat the Aints and the Packers. You control the ball and make sure you score TDs and that allows your defense to be aggressive.


November 30th, 2011
8:33 am

I agree run the no huddle offense. let matt play the way he can. when something works no need to change it. falcons need the killer instinct for 4 quarters.


November 30th, 2011
8:39 am

I just can’t understand why Jacquizz isn’t incorporated more into the offense. What does he get…like maybe 5-6 touches a game??? WTF…everytime he touches the ball it’s usually positive yardage. Is it that difficult to call plays that get him the ball in space like bubble screens and some draws? For the love of God, Mularkey.


November 30th, 2011
8:42 am

No questions to Mularkey about his pityful 3rd quarter performance – and the fact the team has lost 8 out of 11 3rd quarters while being outscored by 59 points?

I also hope he goes to Jacksonville – I am totally ready for a change at OC. I do realize Smith also is contributing to this problem by sitting defensively on leads.


November 30th, 2011
8:43 am

That would make sense if we had beaten New Orleans or Green Bay when we played them.


November 30th, 2011
8:44 am

Me Too – SCREEN PASS!!! What’s that.

I believe I heard one of the announcers say that MM calls the plays normally but it’s MS that says when we go into the “No Huddle” Is that correct?

If MS doesn’t quit being so conservative and sits on leads, we’re going to lose a game or two and we can’t afford that.


November 30th, 2011
8:52 am

Dunta is going back to Ho-town, Andre Johnson must think it is Christmas already, what a welcome back present!


November 30th, 2011
9:00 am

I liked MM’s play calling at Pittsburg under Bill Cowher. Why is he different now. I think the HC determines how the plays will be called and MM gets too much blame.


November 30th, 2011
9:00 am


Is it possible for the first play from scrimmage NOT to be a handoff to the Dancing Bear straight up the middle? I think the other teams have figured that one out. All we are doing is giving away a down.

Also, it is OK to continue to try score even when you are ahead by 2 touchdowns…….Other teams do it – you can to. Just think positively……

Finally, screens and draws are NOT illegal. They are allowed under current rules and can actually be VERY effective under certain circumstances. If you are not sure how to draw them up, call any high school coach – he will be happy to help you.

Good Luck, Stud.

North FLA Falcon

November 30th, 2011
9:08 am

Turner is going to get stuffed vs Houston. So try a few runs up the middle, MAYBE, and then try something else. Spring out Quizz and #44. Ryan’s short precise passes can work vs Houston but the Texans know to expect this. They are going to force Matty to move the ball. We may not even have a touchdown in this game. Could be 12-10. Keep Matty upright. God help us if Chris Owens plays a lot, he better have his head on straight. This is a big challenge for us, we need to stay aggressive on Offense, Defense and STeams for the entire freakin 60 minutes.

Me Too

November 30th, 2011
9:19 am

D3 in the fan blog says the fans at the games are betting on the first play of every game and at the second half: (1) turner up the middle for no gain or (2) short pass to the left . Do you think if the fans know the plays that the other teams have their heads in the sand?


November 30th, 2011
9:24 am

Bring in Norv Turner at the end of the season. He may not be suited to be head coach, but he is excellent as a OC. Mularkey is still stuck in the 90’s and Norv will utlilize our offensive fire power in the way it was intended.


November 30th, 2011
9:29 am

This game should truly show us where our coaching staff is. We know the players can play. The schemes and gameplans could be better. Sure we’re 7-4, but the Braves also do pretty good in REGULAR season. This is almost playoff time when we’re supposed to see a team’s A game. We havent all year with this team. Im sick of the soft pick you apart zones. I hate how Smith decides to sit on an egg after we’re up a couple scores in hopes that if we sit on it long enough it’ll hatch into a win. Its December football now. We have to finish teams and take them totally out of the game. We’ll see what happens Sunday. I’ll know what this team is after that game.


November 30th, 2011
9:38 am



November 30th, 2011
9:45 am

At Terrell November 30th, 2011 8:15 am:
One of the problem is, we don’t score enough touch downs. We score too many field goals.

At SawThat1nce November 30th, 2011 7:16 am: My thoughts EXACTLY.

At: SeenThisB4 November 30th, 2011 7:17 am: “Another fine morning, and my team is still at their rightful spot atop of the NFC South Standings,” That’s True, but “in complete domination of their divisional opponents!!!” Not so much. Getting a win” against the Falcons by 3 points is hardly domination by any stretch of even your delusional imagination.

in complete domination of their divisional opponents!!!


November 30th, 2011
9:45 am

SeenThisB4 this division is race is far from over! i do believe we are the defending champion

no power runs

November 30th, 2011
9:51 am

my biggest beef with the play calling is the ‘power’ sets the falcons TRY to run. we CANNOT get that 1 yard out of it. we’ve been stuffed about 100 times in a row on it. granted, burner is a load but he gets hit 3-4 yards BEHIND the los EVERY time we try that. when we need that yard we should run the spread and have turner and quizz in the backfield, then matty ice has the option for a quick hit or a hand off up the middle. it keeps the linebackers in check and spreads the defense out. that way turner is in a much better position if he gets the handoff up the middle. for the life of me, i can’t understand why mularkey continues to call the 3 te power form!

byrd b gone

November 30th, 2011
9:54 am

The best way Mularkey can help the Falcons is quit.


November 30th, 2011
9:55 am

hey, they pretty much let us know the hold game that it isnt MM who’s taking the offense from Ryan, it’s Mike Smith, and i think i know why, it seems like it’s the card he’s supposedly holding for playoffs, notice how once we get a lead, he handcuffs Ryan, the only way they come back off is when the other teams start there comeback, and im really getting sick of him, we’ll lose one or two of these last games because of this foolishness.

Joe Tess Fish House

November 30th, 2011
10:09 am

HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Flacons and Malrekey will fale aginst the Houston. It will go like this
fist down Turner up the midle
2nd down Turner up the middle
3rd down Ryan through INT.

North FLA Falcon

November 30th, 2011
10:09 am

I think the coaches are under a ton of pressure from Arthur Blank! Win, yes, but don’t do anything STUPID. Our micromanager/owner is hurting the team.


November 30th, 2011
10:10 am

I agree no power runs, that spreading the defense out and running Rodgers outside or counters/draws to Turner work so much better. At least the last 2 games we have seen the counters and draws, but seemingly only from the no-huddle, not so much when MM sends in the play.

Now work in some more screen plays, use the dive alot less, and this offense would not go 3 and out so many times in the 1st and 3rd when not in the no-huddle.

I am hoping Smith can open it up, surely he sees what his conservatism is causing,by now.

Me Too

November 30th, 2011
10:38 am

This blog is certainly not a friendly one for Mike Mularkey.

Maybe it should have been “How Mularkey is Not Getting the Offense Ready for Houston”.

Big Dude

November 30th, 2011
10:45 am

I would love to see Julio catch a quick slant and watch his speed out run any defensive back. Stop trying those low precentage long passes and get him the short pass and watch him run.

Aint's Killer

November 30th, 2011
10:46 am

I know we had better fix the slow down at the beginning of the second half or we can” forget about it”.

Here again, it seems like the birds play down to the weaker teams. And then when it looks like the weaker team is about to make a run, the birds do what they were suppose to do all along.

We have great talent, and good coaching, and a very good owner………So what is the problem?!?!

Aint's Killer

November 30th, 2011
10:50 am


No one here is paying your team any attention. All of our attention is on our beloved Falcons, and will be for the remainder of the season (with the exception of 12/26/11).

So until then, keep your “my team is first” comments in NO where they are much more appreciated I’m sure.


November 30th, 2011
11:00 am

Break out game!!! I feel it. We have been on the cusp for quite a few weeks but have not put 4 quarters together. We will do so this week and the rest of the league had better take notice.

Bottom line is this: our losses (outside of Tampa) have been against the Super Bowl winner and their NFC Championship game opponent, and the Super Bowl winner from the year before. We are hitting our stride and IMO we have a great chance of running the table and finishing with 12 wins. Remember the days when 11-12 wins would have been a freaking dream…..


November 30th, 2011
11:04 am

D-Led, please ask Mularkey why we add successful plays to the offense like in the Green Bay Games first two drives and then never use them again. We lost the Green Bay Game because after 2 drives of creative play calling we reverted back to Turner up the middle on first down, turner off tackle on 2nd down and hope ryan can bail out third down. I love Mike Smith but Milarkey is a 1970’s offense. If we have Texas’s defense it works but we are ranked 9 in defense and 13 in scoring defense and need to score 24 to 30 points a game and should with our players. We hold NO to 20 at home and lose. We hold GB to 25 at home and lose. We hold TB to 17 on the road and lose. This is mularkey’s to consevative offense. Oner more thing!!!!!!! Attention Brian Van Gorder blitz the rookie QB for the love of god!


November 30th, 2011
11:07 am


November 30th, 2011
7:17 am
“Another fine morning, and my team is still at their rightful spot atop of the NFC South Standings, in complete domination of their divisional opponents”!!!

The good news for ain’ts fans is it looks like they don’t have to worry about losing to Seattle this year in the playoffs. Bad news, that means they will lose to some other team they should beat but won’t.

Keeping it Real

November 30th, 2011
11:15 am

Any word on Grimes? Even with Yates at QB I am very concerned about the secondary. Johnson is a beast and is very likely to be a big problem, especially if we continue to have a mediocre pass rush.


November 30th, 2011
12:11 pm

I am consistently surprised Joe Fish can spell

I am really entertained by the ignorant rantings of idiots (read San Antonio Aints fans)
Just wait Aints fans… Brees is absolutely the best thing to ever happen to that franchise. Kudos to you on signing the one and only free agent to ever actually work out for your team. Wonder how long it will take that sell out owner of yours to load the trucks when Brees’ surgically repaired elbow ruptures.
San Antonio here we come!
What? You think the Taints will stay because they just *love* NOLA? Did you forget that NOLA PAYS THE TAINTS TO STAY IN NOLA???
NOLA Paid the Hornets 12 million a year to play in that hole you call a city and they STILL left. (Wait… what?… they still play there? Shows how relevant the Hornets are)
What? you dont believe the city of NOLA pays the Taints over 30 million a year just to play? here is the link:

But hey, maybe you get lucky and get to keep the NOLA moniker…. Northern Los Angeles would love to have a team and Tom Benson is just the sell out to give it to them…and I bet LA can sell enough tickets to turn a profit. (I know, I know, its hard to buy tickets to games with beads)


November 30th, 2011
12:27 pm

Keep up the good work Mularkey. Some of us appreciate the fact your part in this regime has brought the franchise its winningest team.


November 30th, 2011
12:45 pm

Who is the Falcon Def. Coord. and why on crucial 3rd downs are they running schemes where Abraham steps back to pass coverage at LB or where Lofton ends up covering for the Safety in the end zone 30 yards downfield. Ludicrous. Blank and Smith should fire the guy today

Nom Nom Nom Chucks....Taylor or Norris, I don't care

November 30th, 2011
12:50 pm

OK, they are only giving up 14 points a game….good, score the 14 and fire our entire D if they give up more than 14 to the Texans current QB….who is who?


November 30th, 2011
12:52 pm

From responses on this blog, it appears that MM doesn’t know as much about football as most of our fans. I, for one, do think that he does know more than me.This offense continues to advance under him. It is getting better each week which is a sign of good coaching. It will be seriously challenged against Houston with their great defense. Houston runs a playoff caliber defense and will be a great test for this emerging offense. I am anticipating that both coaches and players will learn a few more things during this game but that they will shine for us.

I too would like to hear MM’s perspective on how to keep a team under control while leading the game. I don’t fault the team for having this limitation so far this season because I consider it a real nice problem to have (ie. having a nice lead). However, it has been a recurring problem and one of the last gaps to be filled by this strong offense. Is our team failing to execute on the strategy or does the strategy need improvement? Or both?

Nom Nom Nom Chucks....Taylor or Norris, I don't care

November 30th, 2011
12:54 pm

Ah, I see BJ Yates….I make it a habit to not be intimidated by a man named BJ

COOL! Falcons win! Yeah!

Boo Brees

November 30th, 2011
1:03 pm

Are you a down on your luck franchise that needs money and a place to play? Come on down to ‘Nawlins please. Seriously PLEASE!!! You may not want to stay long and we can definitely understand that, but we pay for play. I have to warn you though, we have fans that wear bags over their heads but if every once in a while you can have a winning season then they become delusional and begin to think they have the greatest team in the world even though they lose to winless teams and get bounced from the playoffs by a team that actually has a losing record. HAVE A NICE DAY!!!


November 30th, 2011
1:19 pm

The Falcons need to get the ball to Jacquizz Rogers more – he’s explosive.


November 30th, 2011
1:25 pm

Can we please stop with the offensive comparing The falcons to Green Bay, New Orleans, and New England..yes these offenses are high powered but one dimentional. Neither team can run the ball with any consistency The falcons can. The OC simply relies on the run to set up the pass…there is nothing wrong with that…yea it doesnt get a “sportscenter” highlight but its effective football