Game Day Central: Raiders vs. Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday





QB corner: Matt Ryan discusses the Raiders

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, despite having an interception returned for a touchdown by Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan last week, still is one of the hotter quarterbacks in the NFL.

As the Falcons have transformed into more of a passing team under offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, Ryan has thrived. His passer rating of 106.1 is second in the league behind San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith’s 108.7.

Here’s a brief Q&A involving Ryan and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter.

Q: What is your assessment of the Raiders defense?

A: They’ve got two really talented guys in their front four. [Defensive tackle Richard] Seymour, a local guy who played at Georgia and has ties to the area. He’s a very good player. … Their linebacking corps has some good players and early-round draft picks [like Rolando McClain]. They are capable of making plays.

Q: Is Oakland’s 1-3 record deceiving?

A: They’re a good football team. They have talented guys. Offensively, I haven’t seen much of what they’ve done, but I know they have some skill guys that can make some plays and score points. On the defensive side of the ball, they have guys that can change outcomes of games. … When you turn on the tape, it’s a good football team.

Q: Is Oakland defensive end Andre Carter a major concern?

A: Yeah. He had 11 some sacks last year and is a talented guy. I’m sure he’s back. We’ve played against him before. He’s a talented guy. We know what he’s capable of doing, and we’ll have to be prepared for him.

The X-factor: Raiders running back Darren McFadden

The Raiders’ offense under coordinator Greg Knapp, a former Falcons coordinator, revolves around running back Darren McFadden.

McFadden is the X-factor for Sunday’s game.

The Raiders have not consistently sprung him in their rushing attack. He has 57 rushes for 201 yards (3.4 per carry) and one touchdown. However, the touchdown was a 64-yard run against Pittsburgh, and he has 11 career touchdown plays of 40 yards or more.

“It’s very unique,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said of McFadden’s running style. “He’s got the speed to go the distance. He can lower his shoulder and run. I think he’s got very good vision.”

The Falcons are having a tough time stopping the run. The defense has allowed 142.8 yards rushing per game, 27th in the NFL.

Because of his Olympic sprinter speed, pursuit mistakes against McFadden can quickly turn into six points.

“He’s a guy who can stop and start, put his foot in the ground and go,” Smith said. “He creates some issues. He has some explosive runs in the first four ballgames.”

The Raiders hope they can unleash McFadden and their rushing attack against the Falcons.

“We’ve got to execute in the run game,” Oakland coach Dennis Allen said. “We have to do a better job of creating a new line of scrimmage, be more physical upfront. It’s been a process of trying to get guys to understand what we are trying to do and how we are asking them to do it. We’ve made some strides over this bye week.”

McFadden also is a pass-catching threat. He caught 13 passes in the season opener against San Diego and has 18 catches for 111 yards this season.

On the hot seat: Safeties William Moore and Thomas DeCoud

When all of their players are healthy, the Raiders could field an 4×100-meter relay team that could run with Olympic medal winners.

The fleet of speed merchants includes Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Taiwan Jones and Darren McFadden.

If the Falcons’ safeties blink, as they did last week against Washington, the Raiders will be in the end zone.

That’s why safeties Thomas DeCoud and William Moore are on the hot seat against the Raiders.

Against Washington, there was a blown coverage over the top of the defense that allowed rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins to find wide receiver Santana Moss streaking down the middle of the field for a 77-yard touchdown.

The otherwise strong play of DeCoud and Moore has been key to the Falcons’ 5-0 record. Despite that play against Washington, DeCoud and Moore have been key to the team’s NFL-leading 10-plus turnover ratio.

“I think they do an outstanding job of keying the quarterback and seeing the quarterback’s eyes,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “They play full speed on every play. They understand where the ball is going, and they do a nice job of understanding route recognition.”

Heyward-Bey had a breakout season in 2011 with 64 catches for 975 yards and four touchdowns. He suffered a concussion against Pittsburgh and missed the Denver game. He’s expected back for the Falcons.

“We have to make sure that he doesn’t get behind us because Carson Palmer can get the ball down the field,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said.

Connections: Dennis Allen is the son of Ex-Falcons linebacker Grady Allen

Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen started his NFL career with the Falcons in 2002 as a defensive quality-control assistant on Dan Reeves’ staff.

He coached with the Falcons through 2005 before moving on to the Saints (2006-10) and Denver (2011).

“It was an awesome experience to work for that organization,” Allen said. “I thought that [Arthur] Blank did an outstanding job with the organization. Dan Reeves was and is, in my opinion, a hall of fame football coach. To be able to start my NFL career under him with that organization was something special. I got a chance to spend four years there, and we had some success.

“We won the playoff game in Green Bay there, and then with Jim Mora, we went to the NFC Championship game. So, I’ve got fond memories of Atlanta.”

Allen’s father, Grady Allen, was a linebacker for the Falcons from 1968-72.

Other connections include:

  • Raiders offensive coordinator Gregg Knapp held the same position with the Falcons from 2004-06.
  • Falcons linebacker Mike Peterson and Raiders offensive guard Cooper Carlisle are the last two players from Florida’s 1996 national championship team playing in the NFL.
  • Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones and offensive lineman Mike Johnson were teammates with Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain on Alabama’s BCS championship team in 2009.
  • Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour played at Georgia.
  • Raiders defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi was the first Georgia State football player to be drafted. “He’s done a good job for us,” Allen said. “He’s a young who’s trying to get better. He’s trying to understand the techniques that we are trying to get him to do. He’s still relatively young playing the position.  He’s got some athleticism. He’s got some size. He’s gotten an opportunity to get in and play in some games this year. Our hope is that he continues to get better.”

Stat corner: Raiders have been outscored 55-7 in third quarter

The Raiders (1-3) have been competitive in the first half of all of their games, but fell apart in the third quarter in three of them.

On the young season, they’ve been outscored 55-7 in the third quarter.

Against San Diego they trailed 10-6 at halftime before losing 22-14. Against Miami they led 10-7 at halftime before losing 35-12. Against Pittsburgh they trailed 17-14 before pulling out a 34-31 victory. Against Denver they trailed 10-6 before being routed 37-6.

Things went haywire in the San Diego game when their backup long snapper had trouble.

Against Miami, running back Reggie Bush got loose on them, and against Denver, it was Peyton Manning-flashback night as he completed 30 of 38 passes.

During the bye week, the Raiders tried to figure out what was happening to them in the third quarter.

“There are a lot of factors that go into that,” Oakland coach Dennis Allen said. “We’ve got to really improve our third-down offense and third-down defense. I think if we’re able to cure that ill, some of those other things will take care of themselves.”

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47 comments Add your comment

Getaway

October 12th, 2012
4:27 pm

True Falcon Fan

October 12th, 2012
4:27 pm

Bet the under —- Big win for the Falcons this Sunday —- 35–0

Go Falcons —- Raiders next

True Falcon Fan

October 12th, 2012
4:31 pm

Hey ZERO you out there —- Kinda surprising you have not brought up your boy Carson Palmer coming to town…. Too bad the ole coach “Barkowski” is in Jacksonville these days — somebody you can blame, since you are famous in the blame game always……

Go Falcons — Raiders next

True Falcon Fan

October 12th, 2012
4:33 pm

:) :) :) ;) :) ;) :) LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL……….

Joe

October 12th, 2012
4:45 pm

One game at a time folks dont start smelling yourself yet, they are professionals also and they will be gunning for the Falcons. Go Birds

[...] to Original Content From Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog): read more Related Articles Share About Author [...]

Falcons Chic

October 12th, 2012
6:33 pm

Joe — I love that saying “don’t start smelling yourself yet.” I too hope this is not a trap game. I still wonder how Kerrigan got that open in OUR backfield for the pick 6. We can’t make that mistake again.

Ray

October 12th, 2012
7:42 pm

From here on out we’re like the Houston Texans

Everyone is gunning for us so except the best shot to be given. I say more like 30-19 Falcons win, but a tough 30-19 to be exact.

Michael M.

October 12th, 2012
7:48 pm

That ballgame Sunday is going to be like a practice tune-up for the Falcons……………..it never will be close after the first quarter is over……………Falcons will level the Raiders ……………………………Falcons – 45 Raiders – 17

Ed

October 12th, 2012
8:13 pm

Falcons 31 Raiders 17; Ryan to Roddy and Julio gets things going and then Turner finishes it off.

Just Sayin

October 12th, 2012
10:43 pm

Falcons 1st 6 opponents combined 2011 record 42-54.

Just sayin…..

Panic fan

October 12th, 2012
10:51 pm

I think i smell any given Sunday still cooking like coach said its the next battle to be won GO ANGRY BIRDS!!!!

JSS

October 12th, 2012
11:14 pm

Idiot alert… Oh it is just True Falcons Fan, I apologize to idiots the whole world over!

You were the Knapp fan last year, why hasn’t he made wine from water yet? Grabowski is doing wonders in Jacksonville too… Rolling my eyes… Have fun on fantasy island!

DeCoud

October 12th, 2012
11:59 pm

JSS is a clown.

Five and O Falcons

October 13th, 2012
12:01 am

Just Win Baby.

St Simons

October 13th, 2012
12:57 am

a championship team puts away teams like this one – & Carolina oops

Esquire

October 13th, 2012
5:48 am

Getaway
October 12th, 2012
4:27 pm

lolraiders!

**************************************

Man, comments like that just spook the ever livin’ daylights out of me.

Esquire

October 13th, 2012
5:58 am

Joe
October 12th, 2012
4:45 pm

One game at a time folks dont start smelling yourself yet, they are professionals also and they will be gunning for the Falcons. Go Birds

********************************************************

Not only that they are well rested.

http://tinyurl.com/8hq7v7l

Esquire

October 13th, 2012
6:02 am

Just Sayin
October 12th, 2012
10:43 pm

Falcons 1st 6 opponents combined 2011 record 42-54.

Just sayin…..
************************************************

What does 2011 have to do with it? Must be a Caints fan still livin’ in the past. What were those teams records in 1970? Same damn thing.

Just sayin’………!!

Esquire

October 13th, 2012
6:17 am

CBS gets the Falcons game this week. Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf calling the game. Looks like the Bucs got blacked out so they will get the Falcons-Raiders game along with Nawlins. Atlanta will get the NY Giants @ San Francisco FOX late game, Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman callling the game.

http://tinyurl.com/4y878wl

By the way Washington Nationals, wait til next year.

Esquire

October 13th, 2012
8:51 am

Dan Hanzus:
The issue of ball security has haunted Hickfumbleitis this season. He’s taking extreme measures in an attempt to fix the problem. Hickfumbleitis carried a football with him all week at Philadelphia Eagles facilities, tucking it under his arm at breakfast, in meetings, anywhere a teammate could attempt to knock it loose.
Did anyone force a fumble in the cafeteria or elsewhere? “They tried,” he said.

Hickfumbleitis has eight fumbles — five of them lost — in five games. Ball security can be as mental as it is physical, and Hickfumbleitis certainly seems to be fighting it right now.
“Not to put too much emphasis on it, but to continuously remind myself that I have to take care of the football,” Hickfumbleitis said. “You want to go out there and make it happen.”
Carrying a football everywhere might sound like something a junior-varsity quarterback would do in the hallways, but give Hickfumbleitis points for effort.
*******************************************

Why do they talk like this is something new?

Flo-Ri-Duh

October 13th, 2012
9:27 am

When are the Falcons going to play somebody?

BK

October 13th, 2012
9:59 am

DONT GET AHEAD OF YOURSELF FALCONS..STAY FOCUS ON THE TASK AHEAD…SEE YOU DIRTY BIRDS AT THE GAME SUNDAY….RISE UP !!! 31-ATL 13-OAKLAND

Just Sayin

October 13th, 2012
10:17 am

@Esquire

Actually in 1970 the Chagers were 5-6-3, Chiefs 7-5-2, Oakland 8-4-2, Washington Redskins were 6-8, the Broncos finished 5-8-1. The Panthers did not exhist in 1970.

Therefore the combined 1970 opponents records were: 26-31-8.

So, technically it was not the same.

Just Sayin

October 13th, 2012
10:19 am

@Esquire

If the past doesn’t matter, there would not be a use for the Hall of Fame, which is based on past performance.

If you don’t like your past, then it’s convenient to say the past doesn’t matter.

Just sayin…..

Answer This

October 13th, 2012
12:36 pm

Agree JSS is a A$$munch! Anyway lets roll on Sunday! Get Turner involved early and it will allow for some early open down the field passing! The nest will be rowdy this Sunday!

Falcon James

October 13th, 2012
2:48 pm

Does anyone think that people who ask “When are the Falcon going to play somebody” is just plain ignorant?

The fact of the matter is the Falcon played 5 “somebody” and beat 5 “somebody”. The teams they played were NFL football team who made every effort to win the game and the Falcon played they heart out to win those games. Nobody just said “here, you look like you deserve a win today so we going to just give it you” like a certain other team was handed a win by the Ref at they home field after loosing 4 straight game. Now if the played and beat 5 “Saint Somebody” or 5 “Cleveland Somebody” the question would be valid. But they didn’t. They played a Manning “Somebody”, a RG3 “Somebody”, a Heisman Trophey winning Newton “Somebody” and so on. Give the Falcon some credit. How come nobody asking when the Texan going to play somebody? Some folk just can’t stand the fact that the Falcon have one heck of a ball team and tomorrow they going to beat a Raider “Somebody”.

Answer This

October 13th, 2012
3:05 pm

@Falcon James
they are not ignorant….that would mean they dont know..they just plain stupid! You cant fix stupid Falcon James….lets keep playing nobodys in the NFL and keep winning.

Esquire

October 13th, 2012
3:53 pm

Just Sayin
October 13th, 2012
10:17 am

@Esquire

Actually in 1970 the Chagers were 5-6-3, Chiefs 7-5-2, Oakland 8-4-2, Washington Redskins were 6-8, the Broncos finished 5-8-1. The Panthers did not exhist in 1970.

Therefore the combined 1970 opponents records were: 26-31-8.

So, technically it was not the same.
***********************************************
It wasn’t meant to be taken literally. But it is kinda the same thing anyway isn’t it…..!

____________________________________________________________

@Esquire

If the past doesn’t matter, there would not be a use for the Hall of Fame, which is based on past performance.
***************************************************
Let me answer that like this. Any Hall of Fame (not limited to sports) is a further promotion of the entertainment product that is represented. You will find archival libraries, educational information, resource centers, memorabilia of significant and/or historical moments. Also established for any field of endeavor to honor individuals of noteworthy achievement. The NASCAR Hall of Fame just opened an exhibit entitled “Wrecks! Dramatic Crashes of NASCAR honoring the significant failures in that sport. For crying out loud, their are quilting halls of fame…..!!! It’s not where have you been, it’s where you are right this very moment and where you are going.

If you don’t like where you are, then it’s convenient to say where ya been.

Just saying.

Go Deep

October 14th, 2012
3:52 am

It hasn’t been that long ago that Every team we played was a Somebody because we couldn’t beat Anybody!!! 0_o . Not Anymore Not Today. Nice that we just play Nobodies now.

Samuel

October 14th, 2012
5:54 am

It’s time for the Falcons to stop the run and it starts with the Oakland Raiders. No excuses Mike Smith no explaination..

Mike Franklin

October 14th, 2012
8:51 am

The fasted gun in the west was always being challenged. Once you get a rep, they all come after you and throw everything into every single snap. The Raiders may not have the greatest record but because we’re unbeaten, we have a big target painted on us. They will be hitting us with everything they got.

Unless we play every game like it was the SB, we are the upset waiting to happen to make another team some bigtime headlines.

RiM

October 14th, 2012
9:41 am

Asante is on twitter until 2am the day before the game….Im hoping he shows to play today

Ban the Trolls

October 14th, 2012
10:14 am

Please let Falcon Fans enjoy the teams success. JSS is King Troll. Go eat a lemon

Yo Vince

October 14th, 2012
10:18 am

Ban the Trolls…… I couldn’t agree more. This team is 1 to be proud of. We all know the run D needs to improve. We know The Texans haven’t played anyone either. Go away Trolls, I mean losers.

JSS

October 14th, 2012
10:55 am

I see the fool patrol is out in small force this weekend again… You jerks instigate and then play the fool when the vitriol is thrown back at you with pure and unadulterated facts… Sorry it is no spin, no mess, just the facts… So you howl all you want censor wannabes, the basic truth remains that most of little boys and girls just want to be like the fools and idiots who embarrassed this city internationally last Friday…

Why don’t you “real clowns” watch the game and stick to try to support what you claims is so great? And don’t come back with same and tired lines, fake posts, and multiple user-name circus that you do every single day… It is an metronome, ever heard of improvisation?

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

October 14th, 2012
11:25 am

JSS IS A CLOWN

LOL at the Aints

October 14th, 2012
11:43 am

@JSS. “Fool Patrol” Yes we are out in force,, looks like we’ve found a big one! LOL

JSS

October 14th, 2012
12:01 pm

11:43…
Don’t wear your mirror out Stuart Smalley

Five and O Falcons

October 14th, 2012
12:01 pm

Five and O Falcons

October 14th, 2012
12:04 pm

the best damn record in the NFC

Five and O Falcons

October 14th, 2012
12:04 pm

RISE UP # SIX

JSS

October 14th, 2012
12:06 pm

And again, your Mississippi is showing…
By the way, why is it is so hard for you to understand that single word user-name makes your 28 letter one not word wrap and bleed into your comments?

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

October 14th, 2012
12:21 pm

LIKE I SAID JSS IS A CLOWN!!!!!

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

October 14th, 2012
12:24 pm

I like how it bleeds into my comments, makes me feel alive :) , and i get nice little comments from my biggest fan, ;)

Five and O Falcons

October 14th, 2012
12:26 pm

Jeff,
What’s Matt Ryan’s record in the Georgia Dome?

Five and O Falcons

October 14th, 2012
12:26 pm