Atlanta Falcons: Three-prong attack is potent

Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez pulls in a touchdown pass under pressure from Washington Redskins linebacker Lorenzo Alexander during the first half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez pulls in a touchdown pass under pressure from Washington Redskins linebacker Lorenzo Alexander during the first half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

FLOWERY BRANCH –The Falcons have seen just about every defensive scheme designed to thwart their passing attack through five games.

But with every move they’ve faced, quarterback Matt Ryan has had a viable and productive countermove.

On Sunday, the Redskins elected to play man-to-man coverage underneath with two safeties deep to prevent wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White from streaking down the field for touchdowns.

That worked.

However, the Redskins took their chances and left future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez in man-to-man coverage. He abused their defenders for 13 catches for 123 yards and a key touchdown.

Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33) celebrates his touchdown with teammate wide receiver Roddy White (84) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Richard Lipski)

Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33) celebrates his touchdown with teammate wide receiver Roddy White (84) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Richard Lipski)

The Falcons were not caught off-guard by Washington’s decision to cover deep.

“We’ve been played different ways,” Ryan said. “You just have to react to it and adjust throughout the game. Last week, they dropped a lot of guys on some of our deeper stuff and forced us to be a little patient. However they come out and play, we have to adjust to that and execute.”

Each team has approached the Falcons’ passing attack differently.

Kansas City concentrated on White and Gonzalez, and Jones gained 108 yards (six catches) and caught two touchdown passes. Denver covered Jones and Gonzalez, and White gained 102 yards (eight catches) and caught a touchdown pass.

San Diego tried to prevent the deep ball, and Gonzalez caught nine passes for 91 yards. Carolina keyed on Jones and Gonzalez, and White gashed them for 169 yards on eight catches and two touchdowns.

Ryan’s ability to quickly read the defense leads him to his open receiver.

“Matt has really good recall over previous games he’s played,” offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said.

Ryan reads his routes in several different manners, depending on the play. Sometimes he has to read the routes from the inside of the field to the outside. Other times he has to read outside-to-inside routes, lower-level routes to deeper routes or the frontside of the play to the backside.

Since he started as a rookie, he’s seen just about every defense at least a few times now.

“We spend a lot of time in the quarterback room with (quarterback coach) Glenn Thomas and we say, ‘Here is how we are reading these looks this week,’” Koetter said. “And that still goes back to having an experienced quarterback who can process it fast, which Matt can do it (snaps fingers) just like that.”

Ryan has a passer rating of 106.1, which ranks second in the NFL behind San Francisco’s Alex Smith (108.7). He doesn’t appear to have a favorite receiver. If someone is open, that’s usually where he passes the ball.

“We don’t know who is going to be the No. 1 guy,” wide receiver Julio Jones said. “We have a lot of No. 1 guys on the team who can step up and carry the team and make plays down the field.”

Gonzalez, who said he’s more than likely to retire after the season, has been key.

“He said he was 98 percent (sure) at the start of the season,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “I’m just hoping for that 2 percent. That’s how I’m approaching it.”

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan congratulates wide receiver Julio Jones on his touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan congratulates wide receiver Julio Jones on his touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

On the strength of their passing attack, the Falcons have averaged 376.4 yards of offense per game, 12th in the NFL. They have averaged 281.6 yards passing per game (seventh).

Sunday’s opponent, the Oakland Raiders, who are coming off a bye week, have a weak pass defense. They are giving up 283.0 yards per game, 28th in the league, and they have three sacks, worst in the league.

It will be interesting to see what Oakland defensive coordinator Jason Tarver does to try to stop the Falcons’ passing attack.

Ryan threw a career-high 52 times against Washington and completed a career-high 34 passes. He said his arm feels fine and that he’s ready to keep slinging the ball around the field.

“I think to have a quarterback who can process it so fast when you see these defensive coordinators are throwing a lot of different looks at you, that’s a huge plus,” Koetter said. “He’s outstanding with that. He understands what they are trying to do, and usually, before we even talk to him, he is usually giving us suggestions.”

LATEST NEWS

Falcons shrugging off critics

Nicholas held out of practice with ankle injury

5-0 start boosts Falcons’ TV ratings

Tony Dungy tells Mike Smith, ‘Get Michael Turner back involved’

Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

68 comments Add your comment

Saint Hater

October 11th, 2012
9:36 am

BirdHerder

October 11th, 2012
9:39 am

As long as he stops throwing it to Hawley!

D man

October 11th, 2012
9:56 am

I love the 3 prong attack. Pick your poison NFL. Who will step up this week and lead our Falcons to victory…

DR. FALCON

October 11th, 2012
9:57 am

I AGREE BIRDHERDER! ARE WE TRYING TO SATISFY HAWLEY’S MASSIVE EGO? DAMN! LOL! WITHOUT HAWLEY, WE HAVE THE BEST WR CORP., IN THE LEAGUE! BAR NONE! THEY WIL BLOW UP, AGAINST THE RAIDERS! OAKLAND HAS NO CORNER BACKS! LOOK FOR CARSON PALMER TO THROW ATLEAST 2 INT’S, TO GIVE US A SHORT FIELD! ROUT!

DR. FALCON

October 11th, 2012
10:08 am

HEY SEENTHISB4, & HIRAMSAINT, YOUR H.S. TEAM, (’AINTS), HAS A BYE WEEK! SIT BACK AND WATCH A REAL TEAM PERFORM, SUNDAY! LOL! GO FALCONS!!!!

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

October 11th, 2012
10:58 am

I think they designed the hawley routes to kind of throw off the defense. Keotter is trying to be more creative with his plays, yes hawley didnt make the catches but he was open every time, just think if hawley actually had caught those passes he would have probably been able to make some key first downs. Maybe hawley isnt the best guy to be making the catches but what would oposing defenses do if they had to worry about offensive lineman makin catches too they may have to play more man coverage with our other recievers, i think keotter is thinking smart hes just choosing the wrong player to make the plays, im almost possitive we will see some more attempts like this and i actually welcome it as long as they start makin the plays. I see no reason to worry, im more optimistic as a fan, keotter knows wat hes doin, just sit back and enjoy the show fellas its gettin creative behind the falcon lines!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Answer This

October 11th, 2012
11:03 am

For defenses this is like choosing to go to the dentist for a root canal or going to have a prostate exam! No one wants to do either! And these defenses cant choose who to cover. Take your pick and someone else has a HUGE day!
What is it this week….dentist or having your colon examined!? Your choice Raiders…..and if by seems that you can deal with both, how about feeling good about yourself only to know that the restaurant only has chicken thighs for you to eat? Thosee thighs would be the #33 special….two piece thighs dry! The dentist is in or if you perfer the doctor….or just step right up and have the #33 special!

SawThat1nce

October 11th, 2012
11:06 am

Three prongs in the passing attack, plus Harry Douglas.
That ain’t too shabby.
Go Falcons!

Falcon James

October 11th, 2012
11:09 am

I think if you are a reciever with this team, you have expect the ball every play, at any given moment. Even the RB has to expect the ball. Ryan looks like an “Elite” QB to me. He is calm, cool, and has a deadly arm.

The Real Falcon

October 11th, 2012
11:31 am

Looking forward to the tailgate and the game Sunday!
6-0 baby!!

CamiloAtlanta

October 11th, 2012
11:47 am

Where’s my comment?

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

October 11th, 2012
11:52 am

Matt ryan is definately playing like an elite quarterback, and the way they played last week in the rain, i think this week they are gonna blow it up, these guys are ready

Cleveland Ave. Turk

October 11th, 2012
11:52 am

Matty Ice iz om a mission this year. I said in the preseason that our season rests on Sam Baker. He has played wonderfully….%#@& the saints!!!!……Shot out to The Hammer Tuggle!!

Michael M.

October 11th, 2012
11:56 am

Playing against the Falcons is sort of like messing around with a Rattlesnake…..you keep pokin at it and it will bite you……………………………………..oh , that was too funny Dr. Falcon on your 10; 08 comment……………..those Caint Trolls dont want none of us this year, you don’t see em no more cause their Team just plain out Sux and they have no ammo to unload on us with the rubber guns !
Daffy, Yacky and Dufus the Goofus ……………what a bunch of losers………………………………….

Cleveland Ave. Turk

October 11th, 2012
11:57 am

Shot out to all the “TRUE Falcon fans”. Kick rocks bandwagon riders and hangerons. Watcha know about watching the red and gray unis playing on a baseball diamond cuz Dale Murphy just finished hittn a homerun thu da holiday in windows. 5 DOLLAR TICKETS!!… Come on man!!..Watcha no bout dat.

RogueRunr

October 11th, 2012
11:59 am

I like the plays to Hawley. Something else for the defense to have to worry about. Plus, I believe Koetter is looking down the road with some of this stuff; setting up something that will have a little wrinkle for the playoffs.

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

October 11th, 2012
12:09 pm

@rogue exactly wat i was thinkin its like i said before just think of the advatages we would have over opposing defenses if we can make those plays, hawley is getting open every time hes just not makin the catch, its needs some work but itll make a great threat for defenses to have to prepare for.

PMC

October 11th, 2012
12:38 pm

The 3 pronged attack can become AFC West champions this weekend.

Just saying

October 11th, 2012
12:54 pm

I’ll start feeling better about who the Falcons really are when they start beating playoff bound teams.

Paddy O

October 11th, 2012
12:59 pm

This is why Mularkey was let go. He could NOT figure out to spread the ball around.

ParanoidAndroid

October 11th, 2012
1:02 pm

If Hawley catches those, then it’s a whole different story of how genius the playcalling is by koetter. 4 PRONGE ATTACK!!!

I want to see the Falcons flex their muscle this Sunday. Give Andy Reid something to sweat about.

Loyal Falcon

October 11th, 2012
1:23 pm

Matt Ryan is the Truth!

PMC

October 11th, 2012
1:25 pm

Part of the reason those teams may not be playoff bound is BECAUSE they played the Falcons.

True Falcon Fan

October 11th, 2012
1:25 pm

Triplets = TG, RW & JJ
Quadruplets = TG, RW, JJ & HD
Quintuplets = “The Burner”, TG, RW, JJ & HD
Sextuplets = MR2, “The Burner, TG, RW, JJ & HD

That = No one can be “EXPOSED on THIS FALCONS TEAM”!!!!

#32 JR is due for a big game soon…….

Go Falcons —- Raiders next

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

October 11th, 2012
1:49 pm

What do you mean playoff bound, denver was playoff bound, san diego was undefeated, carolina at the beginning of the year everyone said was playoff bound, all these teams green bay minnesota all these teams are different all we have to go on is record and the way teams are coming out and playing, and right now atlanta has shown up in every game and made the plays when they were needed most, IMO the falcons are the best team in the league right now when we get to the eagles and on will be the real test, all atlanta has to do is execute and play with confidence as theyve been doing all year

Mike Franklin

October 11th, 2012
1:59 pm

We still have the meaty portion of our schedule ahead of us. Even New Orleans is gonna play us like a pack of rabid poodles. All the hate and animosity built up between the team and their fan base… they could conceivably be labeled a potential terrorist threat.

Being plenty glad here if we get passed the Raiders and into our bye…

Michael M.

October 11th, 2012
2:20 pm

Some come online here and claim the Falcons have not yet played anybody any good………………well, you have to look at it in another point of view………………..the Falcons keep beating team after team week after week, there is not going to be anybody left for them to play and beat period.
……………………………I still think that is just the trolls last straw as far as coming up with something to throw hate at the Falcons as the whole and the Fan base as well……………….Guess it must sting in their behinds a little to see Atlanta Falcons being Number One for a change…………hehehehe

The Austrian Brotherhood

October 11th, 2012
2:22 pm

If Hawley makes the catch, he probably fumbles it shortly thereafter. Don’t throw the ball to Joe Hawley. Don’t send him out on a pass pattern of any sort. Use him as a blocking fullback. If they must, send him deep as a decoy, but don’t throw the ball to him. Then give him bottled oxygen.

Samuel

October 11th, 2012
2:24 pm

I think Matt Ryan should look at Harry Douglas a little more. He’s the only one that’s not a consistent part of the equation. If you can find Hawley open, I’m sure Matt can find Harry and get him into the flow more often.

bfred

October 11th, 2012
2:33 pm

Take away their losses to the Falcons and our opponents are a combined 9-10. Not great, but hardly scrubs.

Dirt Nap

October 11th, 2012
2:49 pm

Been fun to watch so far,still need a more consistent pass rush besides
Abe! Where is the punk thats allways talking smack on Ryan, Flacco and
the Ravens scored 9 pts. on KC, what a noodle arm. God bless the Falcons
and the new president Mitt Romney!

birdofafeather

October 11th, 2012
3:02 pm

anyone not want julio now? was it worth trading picks to cleveland to get him? is this article proof Julio was the missing ingredient?

Thank you Thomas D, for gambling when you should of been holding. :)

inkspot

October 11th, 2012
3:17 pm

This is the greatest collection of offensive talent we have ever seen as Atlanta Falcons fans. Go Falcons!

RobbE33

October 11th, 2012
3:38 pm

Just stop it, okay?! The more we discount the likes of Oakland, the greater the chances they’ll bite us in the a$$. It’s only weird if it doesn’t work, alright?

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

October 11th, 2012
4:02 pm

Theres only like two guys sayin rest our starters, nobody else is looking over oakland and i doubt the falcons will

Michael M.

October 11th, 2012
4:15 pm

Raiders are outclassed by the superior talent on the Falcons Squad……………………they will crush the Raiders Sunday in a very loud Georgia Dome !

Falcons – 45 Raiders – 16

Surg

October 11th, 2012
4:16 pm

Throw to Harry Douglas!!!!

Surg

October 11th, 2012
4:18 pm

I’m not putting anything past the Raiders, they haven’t played well at all but have the right pieces to catch us off guard…

Michael M.

October 11th, 2012
4:21 pm

Thats true…………….I’ll change my game score for just that chance…………………………………………

Falcons – 45 Raiders – 17

Replacement Ref

October 11th, 2012
4:23 pm

Falcons RISE UP!!! Big win on Sunday, Falcons will put up at least 40 points!!

old man

October 11th, 2012
4:29 pm

Many of you know I have been a huge MR2 fan since he was drafted. But I have to say he was not at his best last week. Early, he had lots of throws that were too strong–either too long, or too far in front, or too high. He had about 4 or 5 of those, and we had about 4 or 5 drops, obviously not his fault. On the bad throws, at least they were errors on the aggressive side. If you eliminate the drops and that fluke of a pick six, he would have had a phenomenal day. On the throws, I want to see him dial back the adrenaline just a tad in the first quarter.

Overall, it’s pretty damn hard to complain. We just need to keep the foot on the accelerator. When we are up by 3 TDs, THEN we can let up. But on our first snap, I want to see us go to the air. You know what they say, “practice makes perfect.” Keep airing it out. Because that’s what we will need to be proficient at come playoff time. We need to see 45+ attempts again on Sunday.

old man

October 11th, 2012
4:35 pm

A couple of the deep throws last week were very, very close to working for us. Absolutely do not give up on that. In fact, twice last week, I thought we should have gone right back to a deep route, maybe a hitch, pump, and go, on the very next play. When they would least expect it.

Ed

October 11th, 2012
4:37 pm

Matt Ryan is quickly becoming an elite QB in the NFL and with this three prong attack the Falcons offense is one of the most explosive in the league.

Esquire

October 11th, 2012
4:38 pm

Michael M.

October 11th, 2012
4:15 pm

Raiders are outclassed by the superior talent on the Falcons Squad……………………they will crush the Raiders Sunday in a very loud Georgia Dome !

Falcons – 45 Raiders – 16
**************************************************
You very well could be on the money on the final score. On my pick ‘em tie breaker I’ve got the Falcons as the team scoring the most points and the Caints to score the least. Oh, the Caints aren’t playing? Well, let’s go with Oakland as the team to score the least points.

Surg

October 11th, 2012
4:16 pm

Throw to Harry Douglas!!!!
*************************************
Can’t argue that, when we have thrown to Douglas it has been key! Harry has had a couple of drops too.

83 Douglas, Harry REC 11 YDS 112 AVG 10.2 TDS 0 ATL
11 Jones, Julio REC 26 YDS 313 AVG 12.0 TDS 4 ATL
84 White, Roddy REC 31 YDS 481 AVG 15.5 TDS 3 ATL
88 Gonzalez, Tony REC 39 YDS 388 AVG 9.9 TDS 4 ATL
61 Hawley, Joe REC 0 YDS 0 AVG 0.0 TDS 0 ATL

Esquire

October 11th, 2012
4:40 pm

Surg

October 11th, 2012
4:18 pm

I’m not putting anything past the Raiders, they haven’t played well at all but have the right pieces to catch us off guard…
****************************************
They are 12th in passing. If they get the running game rolling, then the play action we may have to have Matt the Magician do his thing.

Michael M.

October 11th, 2012
4:55 pm

The Caints are on a bye huh…………………….guess they get to enjoy that victory courtesy of the officials last Sunday……………..hehehehe

True Falcon Fan

October 11th, 2012
5:33 pm

This upcoming should not, will not be close —- very possibly a doughnut for the Raiders….

Bet the under —- Falcons win big 35–0

Go Falcons — Raiders next

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

October 11th, 2012
5:52 pm

Lol truefalcon i hope your right on that prediction but i think they will most likely get some kinda points

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

October 11th, 2012
5:53 pm

I think the new york jets are the only team that bad lol

Mr. Mustard

October 11th, 2012
7:39 pm

Three prong attack is a fork on the plate of defenses. Add a dash of ground game pepper and sprinkle some seasoning through a screen pass and you have an offensive smorgasbord.

Falcons are going to rip through Oakland, then 6-0 at the bye.

As we all know, it will be the playoffs that determine this team’s level but I say we are a franchise on the rise. Management is playing the long game, and thank goodness for Arthur Blank who is patient and agrees to build a foundation for success, years to come.

We have created a culture of the Atanta Falcons way of football and it will pay off now and in the future.

To use a baseball example. The Braves used to let pitching coaches in their farm system teach different methods of pitching, and it confused the hell out of the youngsters. Bobby Cox implemented a template of teaching and mandated it for every team.

The Steelers do it with their organization. When they do get a new coach, which is rare (and a good thing) they come from within, or agree to coach within their established system. Then they draft for that style, teach that style and play that style.

The Falcons are doing it too as I mentioned and it is paying off. We are in for some good times friends, and ain’t it fun.

Next year, we draft a running back, more linemen and I bet you Gonzalez stays one more year.

In a good mood, hope you all enjoy the game. Go Falcons.