Atlanta Falcons: Shrugging off skeptics

They loved Matty Ice at Clifton Elementary. (Photo: Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

They loved Matty Ice at Clifton Elementary. (Photo: Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

The students and faculty at Clifton Elementary School were uninhibited in their enthusiasm for the Falcons who dropped by Tuesday for a surprise visit.

The exuberance for the team seems to be more measured among NFL watchers.

The Falcons are 5-0 for the first time in franchise history and the only team in the NFC with a perfect record. Their star players get their due, and various media power rankings have them near the top.

Yet there might be nagging skepticism about the Falcons’ staying power, as illustrated during ESPN’s pregame show Sunday. Studio analysts answered the question that probably is on the minds of more than a few Falcons fans.

Can you trust this team?

“Sounds good … smells bad,” Keyshawn Johnson said.

“Unless you win in the playoffs, you’re going to be known as ‘next year’s champions,’” Mike Ditka said.

Johnson and Ditka made their comments before the Falcons defeated the Redskins, but it’s doubtful that the victory changed their views. The proof will come in the playoffs for the Falcons, who have provided plenty of reasons to doubt them after they flopped in three of the past four postseasons.

Falcons linebacker Mike Peterson said the team doesn’t talk much about such skepticism, but called it “a good thing.”

“I would rather be the underdog team or the team that everybody is doubting vs. a team that everybody is pampering and pumping it up,” he said. “Inside that locker room, we know what we have to do.”

The Falcons have to keep winning games to secure their third consecutive playoff berth. Winning the NFC South is a goal, too, because it would assure them at least one postseason game at the Georgia Dome.

Quarterback Matt Ryan said the Falcons’ recent playoffs failures serve to remind them that they can’t be satisfied just because they are winning now.

“Absolutely,” he said. “We have players and guys that have been around for a long time and understand what it is that we need to do. And, at the same time, I think we have guys that feel like we haven’t played our best football yet.”

The contrast between the Falcons’ regular-season success and postseason failures has forged their reputation.

Since Ryan, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith arrived in 2008, the Falcons are tied for the second-most victories in the NFL. But in the postseason the Falcons haven’t measured up to the other teams in the top five in victories since then: New England, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and New Orleans.

“I don’t really think about it too much or worry about what the outside perception is,” Ryan said. “For us, as players and being a part of the team, it’s just all about trying to win games and giving ourselves a chance at the end of the year.”

Falcons players and staffers fanned out in the area Tuesday for the annual NFL-United Way Hometown Huddle, a league-wide volunteer program. The Falcons said they had full participation among their players.

At Clifton, Falcons players, cheerleaders and the team mascot participated in a physical-education class with students. Team owner Arthur Blank couldn’t join them as planned because of a scheduling conflict.

294 comments Add your comment

UPGRAYEDD

October 10th, 2012
12:24 pm

If your team isn’t geographically placed in the Northeast, or your team doesn’t have that marquee player that the media doesn’t fawn over, ESPN doesn’t want the country to know you exist. If your team IS in the Northeast, then report after report will come out about you, regardless of what you’re doing on the field. Because of our past history, it’s really easy for the national media to overlook us, to belittle us, to tell everyone we suck at playoff time. And that’s just fine. It’s true, and it keeps us under the radar. The NFL coaches and players know what we bring to the field every week, and believe me, they respect the Falcons. We have 11 games to play. After that…if there IS an “after that”…we can prove them all wrong. Ball’s in Atlanta’s court. I like our chances.

Canton Dawg

October 10th, 2012
12:32 pm

When they build the new stadium, it needs to be as far away from Turner Field as possible. Seems that “playoff choke” virus is catching.

True ATL Fan

October 10th, 2012
12:34 pm

The only people that know the true ebbs and flows of Atlanta sports are those that have actually endured the ebbs and flows. ESPN has some of the most washed-up players that, while maybe analytical b/c they have nothing else to do, have never really amounted to too much of anything on the field. Alot of these “pundits” are that way…Chris Collinsworth, Trent Dilfer (although he appears to be rather intelligent), Eric Davis(???), Keyshawn Johnson, who else…Draft Day Ditka. All non-Hall of Famers(except Ditka) that all of a sudden are on-field experts. Fox, ESPN, and NFL Network are laughable. Forgot about the Atlanta-hater formerly known as Chuck Smith and the expert of all experts Jamie Dukes…”C’mon Man!!”

Answer This

October 10th, 2012
12:35 pm

The realization is that we are 5-0 and the playoffs are 14 weeks away…..enjoy the ride real Falcon Fans! I know I am!

Larry

October 10th, 2012
12:36 pm

JSS is just an angry racist (remember his recent “ya’ll can KMBA” comment?) that abandoned the team after 2007 (gave up his season tickets after many year) because a black QB was imprisoned to no fault of the Falcons and a white QB was drafted thus terminating his interest.

This is why he teams up with anyone, ANYONE, that has an agenda against the Falcons, especially one where there’s a currently a black QB starting like Philly and “MattCHOKERyan.”

Truly sad that such a sharp mind is so angry and bitter…what a waste!

Shame on you, JSS!

Answer This

October 10th, 2012
12:37 pm

I dont watch ESPN gameday…..Fox for me…

JSS

October 10th, 2012
12:39 pm

As far for Roger…
“Gloom and doom?” Eeyore moments are tethered to the franchise past, present, and future until they pull a Steve Young moment… Enough of you are seeing the holes. The MIC is not an issue unless teams finally run and don’t stop them until they cry uncle…

And the obsession with fantasy rivals continues… Here’s the difference with your Saints comparison, that team had won playoff games and been in a NFC championship game (2007 against the Bears), and not to get into y’alls silly pissing contest, they were only two years removed from that and went out and added key pieces Sharper and Vilma-08)… That is a big difference from a team whose only additions were coordinators and Samuel. They are still playing massive amounts of zone. Every time they’ve seen an athletic TE someone has been used. I will give them credit for tuning people over, but Nolan hasn’t schemed away their run exposure. Teams have beat them self being cute in the red zone (Carolina-direct snap/Washington roll-out)…

So, call it “gloom and doom,” sun is shining on my street…

JSS

October 10th, 2012
12:40 pm

“turning”

Yes

October 10th, 2012
12:41 pm

Larry, you’re excatly right, and he does make lots of race aggravated comments.

GregKennesaw

October 10th, 2012
12:44 pm

That’s it just ignore reality, Falcons aren’t actually winning the games, the other teams are losing them….HAHAHA… I love your logic JSS or should I say lack thereof. LMAO….

Falcons Baby

October 10th, 2012
12:44 pm

Let’s not forget these are the same knuckleheads that predicted that we wouldn’t make the playoffs, and Panthers would. They are just headline chasers and uneducated guessers

cdog

October 10th, 2012
12:49 pm

the skeptics are just haters who goes along with ESPN and other hate groups of the falcons. if the jets or thegiants were 5-0 they will already have them in the superbowl.they”re just looking for negative things to say about the falcons. just keep winning falcons and you will shut them up.

Esquire

October 10th, 2012
12:56 pm

JSS
October 10th, 2012
9:49 am

The players on the team get they haven’t done yet, but it goes over the head on their fan base… Of course the recrimination posts and name calling to will follow this statement. Ledbetter, good luck with moderating this one!

******************************************************
The players on the team get they haven’t done yet?

Is this your complete sentence and your wearing your dunce hat again or what………….make sense man.

Mike

October 10th, 2012
12:58 pm

Yeah the Redskins did get some rushing yardage, but remember that the Redskins’ TDs came on an interception return and a freak 77-yard play on busted coverage. Our defense has done a pretty good job keeping most teams out of the enzone. Sometimes statistics can be misleading. I saw the first game the Falcons ever played and have seen a lot teams over the years. I think this is the best and most complete team in all phases (offense, defense, special teams and coaching) that I have seen.

Esquire

October 10th, 2012
1:05 pm

DaculaJones
October 10th, 2012
11:25 am

Shoot……….Last week the Dawgs were 5-0 and now? PRETENDERS

Just sayin’ . . . 5-0 don’t mean s**t

************************************************************
The point being is you got to win when it counts the most. Period.

Answer This

October 10th, 2012
1:06 pm

1. Another team on the field so that team has something to do with that team making mistakes……call it beating yourself I call it the other team forcing you into bad decisions.
2. The Aints still did not play D! They capatalized off of turnovers…..those of which they are not getting this year…hence the 1-4 record. And they still dont have a D!
3. Who cares about a scheme…they are 5-0 and yes they will lose and they will have to make adjustments…good teams do and guess what…this is a good team! One team in the NFL without problems?! One! Is not one is it? Thats why you play the games!

KBP

October 10th, 2012
1:06 pm

Really tired of the national media that blasts us for not winning in the playoffs yet. What is more desirable of these two choices, make the playoffs and lose in the first round or do not make the playoffs at all?

JSS

October 10th, 2012
1:12 pm

@ Esquire (Blog teen-age mutant zombie cheerleader)…
Don’t let that 9:51AM post keep you from puffing your chest. It obviously kept you from pulling the wig hair from in front of your eyes…

PS You were great in ‘Cheerleader Autopsy’!

Agent009

October 10th, 2012
1:15 pm

“Tonya Harding Memorial Trophy”, now that is one clever funny :)

Answer This

October 10th, 2012
1:17 pm

He got you JSS….you play blog english teacher….accept you got schooled and move on…..no need for a comeback on that one!

Farcus

October 10th, 2012
1:17 pm

All things considered, we are not the saints and we don’t live in New Orleans. This team will win a playoff game and more this year.

[...] Journal-Constitution Click here for full article Share on Facebook [...]

All I'm Saying Is....

October 10th, 2012
1:22 pm

Dungy and Ditka are both right and since they both own Super Bowl rings (as players and coaches), then I will go with them rather than the rest of you chowderheads. Elway didn’t win a Super Bowl until he had a running attack to take the pressure off of him and until the Falcons under Dimitroff, Smitty and Ryan win playoff games, they will have accomplished nothing. Truth hurts but it must be recognized. They are still my guys and the Falcons are still my team.

LET’S GO FALCONS!

Seattle Falcons Fan

October 10th, 2012
1:26 pm

Corey Peters will help solve the run! He is our #1 dt…

JSS

October 10th, 2012
1:37 pm

Larry, So KMBA means exactly what? Explain yourself genius… Hint: And it better only contain 3 letters…

And by the wrong again Larry, if I gave up my season tickets on January 7, 2007 while Michael Vick was still on the roster, tell me what that means?

You’re the one with the agenda… Whether be your little tirade on September 18, 2011 (yeah, shame on me), or continual twisting of facts to please your little base of acolytes, I ain’t skeeeeeeered!

On the other hand, you’ve built up this fantasy in your mind that you need so badly to have it win just once… It consumes you… 4 years of failures later, you’re begging for it to hit just once so you can puff like an adder… Just like Cicadas, y’all are going to live for “one” chance, too bad like most you’ll never get to unload, tasty meal for bigger animals on the food chain…

And if I wanted to make it racial, I’d add an extra “B” and it still wouldn’t be racial until I tell you and ilk to (insert letters here) you person who is lacking in pigment (which I would not do)…. C’ya!

Answer This

October 10th, 2012
1:38 pm

Not about truth hurting man….about change…and all of these Falcon fans are saying the same thing…..5-0 is nice, but watch more change coming….we will win in the playoffs! What these “chowerheads” dont understand is that there is only one champ every year…..so irregardless if we win a playoff game or not ( Since that is what most of you negative nancys are so all about) what happens if we dont win the last game of the year?! More dumping Dans dumping on the home team! We happy! Not satisfied….HAPPY to be 5-0! Not one fan on here is satisfied….not one! But what the heck is wrong with us celebrating 5-0!? Come on man!

JSS

October 10th, 2012
1:39 pm

Larry, tell Ledbetter to send my response to you… You’ll enjoy it!

Answer This

October 10th, 2012
1:40 pm

Here is the funny thing if we were 1-4 or 2-3 or 3-2 many on here would be saying we should be 5-0…..cant win Nation….darn if we do and darn if we dont!

Answer This

October 10th, 2012
1:44 pm

Sad^^^^^^^^^

JSS

October 10th, 2012
1:44 pm

Oh, it is the idiot wanting to be big…
Sorry Fake Tuna substitute, I corrected myself… Puff up, all skin, no meat! An idiot calls a post but refuses to see the correction post a minute later? That means he’s an idiot, kinda like you…

North FLA Falcon

October 10th, 2012
1:50 pm

There was almost NO discussion of the Falcons in they playoffs last year because the talking heads seemed to know that we would get beat by the Giants. We did, but no one expected it would be so ugly. Those guys on TV do know their stuff so they emphasize the problems over the many positive points on this team.

North FLA Falcon

October 10th, 2012
1:55 pm

On defense you really have to like our turnover ratio. That is huge. For a few weeks early in the season we disguised our looks and had a “freak” defense. Carolina and Washington figured this out and nearly beat us. The defense and running game both need serious work. The offense is really rolling and if we keep racking up the points we will go far! We have a great team this year but more importantly we have the foundation that ensures greatness for several more seasons to come!!!

Judge Smails

October 10th, 2012
1:55 pm

@Wayans at 12:15

Allow me to epectorate on your combobulations: the cumulus neanderthal is abolishing the calcifications.

There, now you get it?

True Falcon Fan

October 10th, 2012
1:55 pm

In a demonstrative way this Falcons team still needs to display a certain anger, Killer instinct that has not fully been displayed yet. However the maturity/discipline displayed to this point has been awesome!

Go Falcons — Raiders next

True Falcon Fan

October 10th, 2012
1:56 pm

Great post D-Led!

Thanks

Buddy Landel

October 10th, 2012
2:01 pm

Esquire

October 10th, 2012
1:05 pm
DaculaJones
October 10th, 2012
11:25 am

Shoot……….Last week the Dawgs were 5-0 and now? PRETENDERS

Just sayin’ . . . 5-0 don’t mean s**t

************************************************************
The point being is you got to win when it counts the most. Period
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
No. the point is FAU, Vanderbilt, Buffalo (University) and such don’t play in the NFL. You can schedule tomato cans in college, but not in the NFL.

Esquire

October 10th, 2012
2:05 pm

JSS
October 10th, 2012
1:12 pm

It obviously kept you from pulling the wig hair from in front of your eyes…
******************************************************
That visual you got when you wrote that made you think of Sandusky didn’t it.

Answer This

October 10th, 2012
2:06 pm

Name calling……
Thats big of you JSS

True Falcon Fan

October 10th, 2012
2:11 pm

With all due respect to the fact Keyshawn Johnson being on “1″ SB / Tampa Bay team 2002… But with his record of displayed maturity & discipline as a NFL player has a very distinctive odor. So with that said, i would strongly recommend Keyshawn to visit his Ear, Eyes & NOSE doctor immediately….

Go Falcons — Raiders next

Esquire

October 10th, 2012
2:14 pm

Buddy Landel
October 10th, 2012
2:01 pm

Esquire

October 10th, 2012
1:05 pm
DaculaJones
October 10th, 2012
11:25 am

Shoot……….Last week the Dawgs were 5-0 and now? PRETENDERS

Just sayin’ . . . 5-0 don’t mean s**t

************************************************************
The point being is you got to win when it counts the most. Period
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
No. the point is FAU, Vanderbilt, Buffalo (University) and such don’t play in the NFL. You can schedule tomato cans in college, but not in the NFL.
***************************************************

Vanderbilt…………..?? Actually Vanderbilt is in the SEC and has a respectable program.
Tomato cans, SEC, NFL……doesn’t matter. Dogs can get the snot kicked out of them by SC and still win the SEC………maybe even the National Championship. The Falcons will get to the playoffs……………The point being is you got to win when it counts the most.

Answer This

October 10th, 2012
2:17 pm

If you a Fan just repeat and blog after me

5-0!

atlfalconsfan0125

October 10th, 2012
2:17 pm

We understand that this team has to win in the postseason for any of this to have any merit. But for now, its impossible for them win in the post season since its October. So what should the fans do? Not get excited because they havent won a post season game yet? You want the fans to get to excited AFTER they win in the post season, then we’d all be be called bandwagoners or fair weather.

atlfalconsfan0125

October 10th, 2012
2:19 pm

The Dawgs only hope now is to win a bowl game. Their titles hopes were done when they were napping in south carolina.

Esquire

October 10th, 2012
2:20 pm

JSS
October 10th, 2012
1:39 pm

Larry, tell Ledbetter to send my response to you… You’ll enjoy it!
**********************************************************
You even think DLed works for you……………..how narcissistic can you be.

Esquire

October 10th, 2012
2:25 pm

atlfalconsfan0125
October 10th, 2012
2:19 pm

The Dawgs only hope now is to win a bowl game. Their titles hopes were done when they were napping in south carolina.
***************************************************
They weren’t just napping, they were on a sleep apnea machine stone cold out. Theoretically, they could actually still be alive…………..but I’m not counting on it.

RC Thielmann

October 10th, 2012
2:30 pm

The most concerned I have been thru these first 5 games was on Sun. when Ryan looked like the deer in headlights (scared) Ryan from previous years. He is such a dichotomy, because he is Matty Ice when it is crunch time, but seems to be nervous and lacking confidence in the early going of playoffs (or last weekend, a game that was on the road against a tough opponent). He did this against Green Bay in and NYG in last 2 playoffs. So, after the first 3 games against the AFC West, I was liking what I saw in terms of a perceived change in attitude and toughness, but think we had a glimpse last weekend of the scared, tentative and turnover oriented Matt Ryan that we don’t like.

Larry

October 10th, 2012
2:30 pm

JSS,

No thanks…zero interest in a predictable response from an angry, bitter, jealous individual.

I hang with the winners in life: leaders of good will, positive thinkers, good examples to our fellow man, and, apropos to this thread, fellow Atlanta Falcon fans that are truly grateful to be consistently competitive for five straight seasons with a shot–just a precious shot–at maybe achieving success beyond the regular season but one that still enjoys one game at a time.

True Falcon Fan

October 10th, 2012
2:37 pm

2:30 —- Excellent POST!!! — ZERO/JSS his hine-A$$’ ideal Carson Palmer is coming to town — might i add they will get their A$$es handed to’em, then sending them back to Oakland!

Go Falcons — Raiders next

Esquire

October 10th, 2012
2:38 pm

Larry
October 10th, 2012
12:36 pm

JSS is just an angry racist (remember his recent “ya’ll can KMBA” comment?) that abandoned the team after 2007 (gave up his season tickets after many year) because a black QB was imprisoned to no fault of the Falcons and a white QB was drafted thus terminating his interest.

This is why he teams up with anyone, ANYONE, that has an agenda against the Falcons, especially one where there’s a currently a black QB starting like Philly and “MattCHOKERyan.”

Truly sad that such a sharp mind is so angry and bitter…what a waste!

Shame on you, JSS!
*************************************************

Well stated and thought out Larry. I never really was a fan of that QB. Oh, he brought excitement to the Falcons don’t get me wrong but he still doesn’t take care of the football, just like he didn’t back then. Never Ever had a touch pass. Heck of a deep ball though. I was always hollering for Schaub to be put in………..more of a prototypical QB and a damn good one at that. What’s that old saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”.

True Falcon Fan

October 10th, 2012
2:39 pm

Excuses me i meant “idol” not ideal —- sorry —- sometimes i even make mistakes