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

Just Sayin

October 10th, 2012
7:46 pm

This soft schedule comes to a screeching haul after the bye.

Anybody seen the schedule?

JSS

October 10th, 2012
8:00 pm

“Saints gave up 450 yds of total offense in the NFC Championship game during their run.”

When you can outgun the opponent you can do that, you nuts are still buying that you’re going outgun teams that aren’t one sided and don’t have a propensity to turn it over in the playoffs… Man, that is the absolute recipe to get your hat handed to you… The Colts had more weapons and they got the mess jacked out them in the Super Bowl… Why? Because the Saints made them one-sided in the last 4 minutes.

The Niners have championship game experience now, the only team that’s touch them was the Vikings who got the game of his life, and he’s not Sonny Jurgensen sitting back there taking 20 minutes to get to the endzone when they can get pressure with 4 rushers and don’t have to play zone…

There is only one and a half match-ups that favors the Falcons if things play out: The Cardinals (they have no running game) and possibly the Vikings because of Ponder. If Adrian Peterson is anywhere near being himself, all bets are off… No other team is one-sided except Seattle, I doubt they make because they still have two battles with Niners in front of them… Green Bay’s fate was sealed in Seattle and Indy… If the Eagles finally go 55% run 45% pass, hey they can host a round 1 game and then make life miserable for someone like the Cardinals did in 2008… The rest of y’all assertions are based on the Falcons being able to turn on a run game against balanced teams… SMH

5-0 is cute but...

October 10th, 2012
8:02 pm

This season is a bust if the Falcons don’t at least make it to the NFC championship game. A wildcard victory is not enough, especialy when this QB and head coach have been together 5 seasons without a single playoff victory. Getting progressively better is great but are we supposed to wait 10 seasons for a legitimate playoff run?

Answer This

October 10th, 2012
8:34 pm

What you keep missing JSS is that yoy find a way for every other team to give the Angry Birds issues….however your argument lacks because not once have you or will you state the facts about;
1. What if Turner starts running like he did in the Carolina game.
2. What if the D fills holes with C.Peters and gets better with the running game
3. What if we are 5-0….had to stick that in!
4. What if the offense gets better…..thats frigging scary because thats all these guys keep talking about…how they have not played a all around game on offense..
5. What if teams have to keep choosing who to cover in this offense
6. What if the coaching gets better…is that possible…?
7. What if Ray Edwards shows up
8. What if people start showing how afraid they are to travel to Mr. Robinsona neighborhood
9. What if teams keep respecting Samuels the way they are
10. What if our safties finally step up and play big….wait they are and remember you were not a fan of these two guys at all!
I could give you 50 more what ifs for the Falcons just like you have given us the what ifs for all these other teams…..except the Falcons. Respect the Angry Birds!
Last what if….
what if people start liking you……hehehehehehe another shot!
5-0
RISE UP ANGRY LITTLE MAN!

Answer This

October 10th, 2012
8:36 pm

O yea this not last year or 2008…..this the 2012 birds
5-0!

DawgNole

October 10th, 2012
8:39 pm

ZinoDawg
October 10th, 2012
7:14 pm

All I know is this – as a lifelong Falcons fan I am thrilled to death that the Birds are 5-0 for the first time ever. Get hot in the playoffs and anything can happen.
______________________

Hell, just get IN the playoffs first, then worry about getting hot.

Answer This

October 10th, 2012
8:48 pm

And I will hold you to saying that GB is done!

Getaway

October 10th, 2012
9:31 pm

5-0 is cute but… Dude, you sound angry. I mean, I don’t know if you’re a fan or not, but are you saying you can’t enjoy what’s happening this season because of some flops in the past? If that’s how you feel, you might just want to call it a season now, and check back in this time next year. Then, you’ll know how everything turned out and you can either jump on the bandwagon or resume the whining.

JSS

October 10th, 2012
9:33 pm

Ha ha, you make me laugh…
“If” enough said about that…
When has Carolina stopped anybody from running? Well. besides the Falcons that is (in Carolina)?
Holy crackers, 2-9 are just crazy talk so no use wasting on that mind dump…
I don’t dislike Moore, I don’t trust him to stay healthy… DeCoud is still a hot mess (see passing along Santana Moss)… The safeties test is coming soon enough, 3 teams with multiple TEs who can actually play two ways and 4 deep receiver sets… They won’t be able to free lance and sit 10 yards behind plays…

And as for last quip, what if the internet didn’t contain a certain set of blogs with the collective maturity threshold of new born orphan Great Dane? C’ya

Ed

October 10th, 2012
9:38 pm

I like the tenacity that this team plays with. We are 5-0 and still there are a lot of things that can be tuned up. The passing attack is relentless and Matt Ryan in the no huddle is downright dangerous for any defense. I think Dirk Koetter has opened up this offense and making it fun for the players to show up to work. Defensively I feel like everything will work itself out over time, the run defense will improve a lot when Peters comes back after the bye week.

The Oakland Raiders

October 10th, 2012
9:55 pm

Just win baby

Jacketfan

October 10th, 2012
9:56 pm

D Man said, “1980 Atlanta vs. Dallas in the game we were supposed to win easy and blew it.”

You may not add so well, D Man, but you’re dead right there. I’ve never been so cold or disappointed as I was that night. They had the game won, and just blew it. That game sums up their whole franchise history.

Tripp Bowden

October 10th, 2012
9:56 pm

D-man–if memory serves we knocked down and out Roger Staubach and some clown named Charlie Waters came in and shredded us. I ain’t googling any of this just going from memory. Was watching it with my dad at one of his buddy’s house, and was so pumped up at half time. I am fourteen years old at this time. Twas indeed a crushing blow to go out like they did, but man were they fun to watch. I know Bartkowski, and he has told me more than once not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about it. That said–is this our year to win it all? No idea. Will it be fun to watch it unfold? Hell yeah! And that, to me, is what loving your team is all about. I love the unknown, and seeing how it will play out. I love my Birds no matter what. And the train rolls on…

Matty Bicep

October 10th, 2012
9:57 pm

Well, the critics are right, but this team seems to refuse to go away. Some teams make the playoff, but go one and done then fall apart, making it all look like a fluke. That has not happened here, this team might lose playoff games, but they refuse to quit. Nor had Ryan lost to a QB in the playoffs who is not on a HOF trajectory. Let him go head on head against some loser QB like Cam, or RG3, you know, guys he had no problem beating like a yard dog, and you can bet, he will get his playoff win,….But what are the likely hood that they well ever make the playoffs…LOL. Success is relative.

Matty Bicep

October 10th, 2012
9:59 pm

Tripp, Staubach was not the QB, I thought it was Danny White. Not googling either…Shows what memory does.

DawgNole

October 10th, 2012
10:09 pm

Tripp Bowden
October 10th, 2012
9:56 pm

D-man–if memory serves we knocked down and out Roger Staubach and some clown named Charlie Waters came in and shredded us. I ain’t googling any of this just going from memory.

Better Google it. Dallas QB was Danny White; Charlie Waters was their strong safety.

A bitter memory.

Tripp Bowden

October 10th, 2012
10:11 pm

HAHAHA you are right Matty Bicep–twas indeed Danny White–but I swear we knocked the main qb out of the game and the second stringer came in and schooled us and went on to have a great career. Ok–I am 45. Gonna google it. :-)

[...] Falcons shrugging off critics [...]

Tripp Bowden

October 10th, 2012
10:13 pm

You are correct, my friends Matty Bicep and DawgNole. I guess I tried to block out such a bitter memory. But dang i would have gone to my grave saying what i said was true. Thanks for the clarification. Did we knock Danny out of the game maybe?

Tripp Bowden

October 10th, 2012
10:15 pm

I have an autographed football from every member on that team kindly given to me as they were cleaning out their lockers–to a man they all signed it, and I bring it out to this day during the end of games when we need a miracle. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. :-)

[...] Falcons shrugging off critics [...]

Matty Bicep

October 10th, 2012
10:17 pm

Yea Tripp, I am a little older, but not much, lol…so I remember watching it, and know exactly where I was…We did not even have the dignity to take a beating by a top tier QB, Got burned by freaking Danny White. I believe it was Rolland Lawrence who blew the coverage…But those Falcons, unlike this team, did not fall apart after that the next season..That is what seperates this team, seems like they are coming back stronger.

JSS

October 10th, 2012
10:31 pm

They knocked Staubach out of the 1978 Divisional playoff at Texas Stadium (the week after beat Philadelphia in their first ever playoff game… Danny White came in and saved the Cowboys with 14 straight points

JSS

October 10th, 2012
10:36 pm

Lawrence didn’t blow the coverage, they had absolutely no pass rush, small DBs (they changed the hands on receivers rule the year before), Pearson finally worked free at the front of the End zone… Lawrence and Byas would be out of the league shortly thereafter… Strong bump and run DBs like Lester Hayes and Michael Haynes would change pass coverage defense… Jam em hard at the line and then run ‘em off the route…

Answer This

October 10th, 2012
10:37 pm

There you go with that crazy babbling gibberish again Guess none of the teams below had any four reciever sets? Or good TE? Or could run the ball? Once again your google stats dont hold up to mine…..hehehehehhe i pulled a JSS and googled!
1. Redskins……7th in passingi
2. Carolina……14th in rushing..
3. San Diego…16th passing…
4. Denver……5th passing
5. Kansas City…2nd in rushing
Go ahead and tell us how Decouds picks are all smoke and mirrors and not coaching and confidence…..(heck it took the safety from The aints to finally get a pic the other night 1st time in 4 years…..guess he just has not been in the right place….how many Decoud got angry little google stat man?
Last time I checked Turner had triple digits in rushing againat Carolina….so we not talking last year clownmunch! So WTF point was that!?
This the NFL…the pros so every team is good enough to win on Sunday, Monday, or Thursday….(see a rookie QB come back from 18 down against a vet team, see a rookie QB beat the Aints in the NO, i could go on but this goes over your head because you are only focused on bashing the Falcons) my point is that we are 5-0 because we have beat everyone in front off us….clownmunch!
What if you ever caught a clue and stop using your google education to blog….what if?
5-0!

Tripp Bowden

October 10th, 2012
10:37 pm

Hey Thanks JSS–so my memory ain’t as bad as I thought! Did a little more research on me–I was in 8th grade; ergo 12 years old.

And I agree Matty Bicep. This team is the real deal. And i think color me just a fan, it comes from the Coach and the GM. These fellow just love to play for them. It’s like a good family. You want to make your mom and dad proud. Thanks again for the correction JSS–and did they not beat Philly when the field goal kicker missed a chip shot and Greg Brezina consoled him after, religious man Greg was?

Joseph Allen McWhorter

October 10th, 2012
10:38 pm

I know it is a long way to go in the season and great teams are measured by playoff success instead of just regular season. However, I personally feel that this 2012 Falcons team will get the job done in the playoffs this season as well. From watching them so far this season, I just think the overall chemistry and attitude is so much better than a year ago. I truly think this team is much hungrier this year to win in the playoffs. Only time will tell but it seems like a very focused team right now. Go Falcons!

Blake

October 10th, 2012
10:41 pm

@Seen This B4….so what If we’re exposed 11/11? We may be exposed B4 then at Philadelphia….This Is the NFL…Every game Is tough….But the difference right now Between the Falcons and Saints Is 4 games. 1 game does not a season make but knowing the Saints are 4 games behind US, and not going to catch Us, makes me warm and fuzzy !

Answer This

October 10th, 2012
10:41 pm

And how can you tell this man what he belives about Rolland blowing the coverage? That is your frigging problem…..no one asked you YOUR OPINION! YET YOU INTERJECT! MUNCHANGUS!

Tripp Bowden

October 10th, 2012
10:48 pm

Hey JSS and Matty Bicep–enjoyed the chat. The train rolls on. These Birds are rare. How rare? I don’t know. Don’t really care about the outcome (of course I do) but I do care about how they play for each other. This year feels like a brotherhood. Night yall.Tripp. Yes that is my real name.

SawThat1nce

October 10th, 2012
10:49 pm

Has there ever been a NFL team that was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, by a team that had a regular season record of below .500?

Tripp Bowden

October 10th, 2012
10:52 pm

Yes I think the AZ Cards did just that and then made it to the Superbowl. Took us down indeed.

JSS

October 10th, 2012
10:58 pm

Bonehead, the video hasn’t changed in all these years…
Dallas ran Pearson back across the formation to make it man coverage on the play. Tom Pridemore was sitting there in the endzone with responsibility to keep the front on the endzone covered… He was slow in reacting. Lawrence had good coverage, the only thing he didn’t do was to turn his head. Hank Stram the old CBS color guy said it as well…

Your “I’m a bonehead” act is tired…

Matty Bicep

October 10th, 2012
11:03 pm

Agree trip, it is about the ride, the chance, the opportunity that is what is cool.

Matty Bicep

October 10th, 2012
11:07 pm

JSS, you talking to me? Again, I was going by memory, I just remember that RL was the guy closes to the receiver….But him not turning his head does bring back a memory….Fact is, Bart threw 3 picks and did not score a point in the 2nd half after scoring in the first 4 possessions…..But like I said, the team never recovered.

johhny roks

October 10th, 2012
11:10 pm

I can tell when a team “has it”, and this team looks like the Cardinals & the Seahawks a few years back when they went to the Superbowl. Softees with no bite. Matty, we really appreciate you spending time with the kids, but you need a shot of HGH and work on that motion in the pocket. Until you put 11 vs 11 instead of 10 (offense) vs 11 (defense) these receivers are gonna get banged up before the playoffs even start!

Answer This

October 10th, 2012
11:12 pm

I just bet you have that video with the commentator saying that? Munchangus! It makes it right since the commentator said it…..almost like you JSS….you think whatever you say is correct…..what a munch! Your google education is outdated!

B'Red

October 10th, 2012
11:13 pm

One game at a time, good teams always find a way to win even when they dont bring their A game.

ROGUEr Goodell

October 10th, 2012
11:30 pm

I see a very lucky team, that can play dirty defense at times and can force a fumble or two…But when will these lethargic recievers start stretching the darn field..Seems like they aren’t playing the whole game or something. Once we play the who have it together, I see it all going downhill =(

SawThat1nce

October 10th, 2012
11:31 pm

Tripp@10:52,,,,,,The AZ Cardinals wer 9-7 in 2008, and NFCW Champs when they went to the SB.

The Seatle Seahawks were 7-9 in 2010, when they defeated the Saints in the 1st round of the playoffs.
The 1st and only team with a regular season sub .500 record, to win a playoff game.

Matty Bicep

October 10th, 2012
11:36 pm

If the falcons were in the AJC, we would have been to a couple of superbowls by now. Tim Tebow won a game, Mark Sanchez and Joe Flacco have been to AFC championship game, but the BEST team in the AFC the past 2 years lost to the exact same teams we lost to. AFC is a joke…

Matty Bicep

October 10th, 2012
11:36 pm

AFC, not AJC.

Matty Bicep

October 10th, 2012
11:38 pm

The AFC teams we played this year did not even compete with us…Are only close games were to NFC teams, but we handled both those teams with east too.

SawThat1nce

October 10th, 2012
11:40 pm

Soooo………that makes the Taints, the only team to lose a playoff game to a sub .500 team, in the history of the NFL.
Pretty funny stuff.

JSS

October 10th, 2012
11:40 pm

Sorry Bonehead, I still have my copy of NFL Films ‘Battle in Dixie’ from my undergraduate internship… Sorry, but I’ve spent more time in film vaults then you can imagine… Have fun fantasy boy… You enjoy spouting ignorance…

SawThat1nce

October 10th, 2012
11:46 pm

I thought that the NFL officials were finished with helping the siants win games, until I saw that BS call, after the rookie tapped the munchin’s faceguard with his helmut,—- this, after he had just thrown the backbraking int., that was brought back for a TD by the Chargers.

JSS

October 10th, 2012
11:47 pm

Nah, you’d have to gone through Pittsburgh when they were stomping folks. As they proved with a third string QB, they had Atlanta’s number, the same goes for the Patriots… You may have won playoff games simply because the AFC West has been so sporadic… Those are the teams the AFC North and East have feasted on…

Matty Bicep

October 11th, 2012
12:03 am

Regardless, the same team that knocked the Pats and Steelers out of the playoffs got is the same team that knocked us out, we just had to play them a little earlier due to the luck of the draw….Sometimes the other QB is better, ask Tom Brady and Roth…Once the guard changes and all the QBs drafted before 2006 are gone, you will see what Ice is all about. He is learning nothing is easy, that you have to work hard in the offseason and come back better than ever….What a shame our previous franchise QB did not have that mentality, for one he had a little success, he got distracted… ATL would have a few SBs by now, just like everyone predicted, what a shame.

Eric C.

October 11th, 2012
5:58 am

@inkspot, yes…those were some fun teams to watch, John Jefferson, Charlie Joiner, Kellen Winslow, Wes Chandler etc…those guys could flat out make some great catches and the Chargers were my favorite AFC team back then. Fouts was really good, but he owes a heck of a lot to some awesome receivers. That team had a shot to go all the way in Jan 1982 but got slowed down by the frozen turf in Cincinnati.

Anyway, a couple of those circus sideline catches Jones made last Sunday reminded me of some I remember from the Air Coryell offense days.

FalconfanFran

October 11th, 2012
6:33 am

The FALCONS is the name of this team. For the one’s that keep calling them the Dirty Birds understand there is not one player from that time left on this team. Other teams in the NFL don’t rename their teams so why do Falcon fans? The fans of the past know that this team is nothing like the old Dirty Birds and the players and organization are better overall team. SO STOP IT.