5 things Falcons’ coaches learned during their bye week self-scout




FLOWERY BRANCH — Instead of having the Falcons practice over the bye week, Falcons coach Mike Smith gave the team the entire time off.

When making the schedule over the offseason he felt that the Falcons didn’t get enough out of the two bye-week practices and equated them to like “pulling teeth.”

So instead of doing some dentistry work, the players were dismissed after the win over Oakland. While they were out, the coaches conducted a self-scout of the first six games in order to trouble-shoot for potential areas of improvement.

“We spent the week taking a good hard look at things that we have to get better at,” Smith said on Monday. “We identified them. We came out here and really worked hard on fundamentals. (Monday) was a big day on fundamentals and on things that we felt like we needed to do to help ourselves play better through the last 10 games of the season.”

Here are five things that the Falcons, the only undefeated team in the NFL, are focusing on in order to stay atop of the league standings:

1. Missed tackles: The team spent a large part of their practice working on the fundamentals of tackling.

“We had a bunch in this past game and sometimes it’s just being too aggressive or not wrapping up,” linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said. “Sometimes it could be not seeing what you are hitting. It’s something that we’re going to work on and make sure that we are lining people up the right way and that they are taking the right angles. We need everybody swarming to the ball. If we go out there and do that, everybody will be fine.”

Smith and his staff had extra tackling drills scheduled although the defense rarely practices full simulated tackling in practice, in part because of the new non-contact rules set forth in the collective bargaining agreement.

“We don’t really get to work it, but it’s ultimately on us to go out there on Sunday and wrap ball carriers up and get them down,” Weatherspoon said.

Defensive end Ray Edwards said, “All of us have been playing football since we were 10-years-old. All of us know how to tackle. We just have to go out and do it.”

2. Stop the run: Several players talked about changing the math at the point of attack.

“When you have seven-man spacing you have seven men near the line of scrimmage and the math is even,” Smith said. “So you’ve got to do something to change the math. A guy has got to whip a block or you have to slant your defense. There are a number of ways to do it.”

The defense has allowed 143.8 yards per game and seven rushing touchdowns this season.

“We have to change the math,” Weatherspoon said. “We can’t just fit it up right. We have to win our one on one battles a little bit better. I think our run defense will get better if we do that.”

3. Improve the rushing attack: Smith likes to talk about being a “scoring” offense. He doesn’t care if it’s passing or running as long as they are scoring points.

During the self-scout, it was apparent that they could score more points with a better rushing attack.

“We just have to execute better and that’s all 11 guys on the field,” running back Michael Turner said. “That’s mainly what it is.”

Turner’s carries have been drastically cut, but he’s still averaging 4.3 yards per.

Backup running back Jacquizz Rodgers has not been productive and is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry. The team is rushing for a paltry 86.5 yards per game.

“We know that we have the ability to do it,” Turner said. “We have to not take things for granted and go out there and still do the things that we’ve been coached to do.”

4. Staying near penalty-free: The Falcons have just 18 penalties for 152 yards, both marks are the lowest in the league.

5. Takeaways: The Falcons have 10 interceptions and are tied for third in the league with Cleveland and Washington while behind Chicago (13) and the New York Giants (12).

The Falcons have also forced nine fumbles and recovered seven of them. New England leads the league with 13 forced fumbles and 11 recovered.

The Falcons turnover-differential of plus-10 has allowed them time to correct their issues against the run.

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80 comments Add your comment

Falcon James

October 23rd, 2012
5:13 am

Falcon James

October 23rd, 2012
5:16 am

Welcome back, DOL. Was starting to have withdrawals.

Five nails hit right on the head!

Falcon Since 1966

October 23rd, 2012
5:44 am

I was wondering if the players over the last ten years are scared to wrap someone up and set them on their but or are they being coached to reach out and slap at running backs and watch them run pass them?

Falcon Since 1966

October 23rd, 2012
5:47 am

I thnink we are still trying to get the passing game right and have forgoten about the run first to set up the pass. When you can run it you can pass it. But when you can’t get the run going and you have to pass it, it makes the “D”s job a whole lot easier.

Samuel

October 23rd, 2012
5:51 am

Sounds good in terms of self evaluation, but how does that awareness translate on to the field with the players? Everybody knows this team hasn’t played up to it’s potential. Now you got to play some pretty good quarterbacks going through the second half of the season. The schedule is tougher, but I’m sure this team is up to the challenge. Something about this team is special, I think you got more guys getting involved in terms of making plays to help the team win football games. Now stop the run and let’s successfully run the football. Then I’m in like Flynn…

Esquire

October 23rd, 2012
5:58 am

Go Bronco’s!!!

Marcus

October 23rd, 2012
6:02 am

Given the plaudits in the last 2 bullet items, seems like the ground game (offense and defense) is the the biggest chink in the armor. I thought both of those were strengths in 2011??!?!

I would get ready for a big dose of LeSean McCoy in this PHI game. I live in the Philly area and by distant observation, their typical game plan vastly under-utilize him in a pure rushing sense. Based on observations 1 and 2, the Eagle staff has probably seen the same deficiencies and will test if we have addressed them properly.

The Real Falcon

October 23rd, 2012
6:42 am

It still amazes me that all teams practice under the sames rules and some are better tacklers then others.

Esquire

October 23rd, 2012
6:54 am

………Falcons ……………………Eagles
PTS….28.5 (6th)…………………..17.2 (30th)
YDS…361.3 (13th)………………..379.0 (7th)
PASS..274.8 (8th)…………..…….257.0 (13th)
RUSH 86.5 (29th)………………….122.0 (10th)
Defense
PTS….18.8 (7th)…………………..20.8 (11th)
YDS…367.2 (22md)………….……330.8 (12th)
PASS…223.3 (12th)……………….226.3 (15th)
RUSH…143.8 (28th)………………104.5 (14th)

Esquire

October 23rd, 2012
6:59 am

29th in the Rush is not going to cut it but more than that we have GOT TO be able to move their defensive line when called for on short yardage or goal line.

Esquire

October 23rd, 2012
7:21 am

#4 Matt Ryan 98.8 rating
#27 Viceroy Ichiban Cooter Kooter 77.7 rating

atlfalconsfan0125

October 23rd, 2012
7:38 am

Esquire

October 23rd, 2012
7:41 am

1 Jamaal Charles KC RB 115 19.2 591 5.1
2 Arian Foster HOU RB 168 24.0 659 3.9
3 Alfred Morris WAS RB 138 19.7 658 4.8
4 Marshawn LynchSEA RB 147 21.0 652 4.4
4 Adrian Peterson MIN RB 136 19.4 652 4.8
6 Frank Gore SF RB 103 14.7 601 5.8
7 Stevan Ridley NE RB 135 19.3 589 4.4
8 Ahmad BradshawNYG RB 104 17.3 492 4.7
9 LeSean McCoy PHI RB 111 18.5 459 4.1
10 Ray Rice BAL RB 106 15.1 524 4.9
11 C.J. Spiller BUF RB 72 10.3 523 7.3
12 Matt Forte CHI RB 80 16.0 366 4.6
13 Reggie BushMIARB 98 16.3 434 4.4
14 illis McGaheeDENRB 100 16.7 432 4.3
15 Chris JohnsonTENRB 110 15.7 496 4.5
16 Jones-DrewJACRB 86 14.3 414 4.8
17 Doug MartinTBRB 100 16.7 408 4.1
18 DeMao MurrayDALRB 75 15.0 330 4.4
19 Leshoure DET RB 66 16.5 259 3.9
19 Mathews SD RB 58 14.5 259 4.5
21 Greene NYJ RB 124 17.7 432 3.5
22 Green-EllisCIN RB 125 17.9 431 3.4
23 Don Brown IND RB 60 15.0 239 4.0
24 M Turner ATL RB 84 14.0 357 4.3

LeSean McCoy has 1 rushing TD’s, Turner has 3. McCoy has 3 fumbles, Turner 1. McCoy has 4 rushes of 20+ yards, Turner has 2.

They say Michael Turner needs 10+ carries to get into a rhythm carrying the ball. Hell, he averages only 14 carries per game. What’s wrong with this picture?

David

October 23rd, 2012
7:52 am

J Rodgers is to small, get reed of him, time to look for an Aderan Petterson

Paddy

October 23rd, 2012
7:56 am

The Real Falcon…….Some teams tackle better than others because some teams have better players than others.

Paddy

October 23rd, 2012
7:59 am

David….you may want to re-write that 7:52 post.

Riverman

October 23rd, 2012
8:04 am

Here’s a way to “change the math” – subtract Akeem Dent & add Robert James or Mike Peterson or somebody else.

Elvis is Alive

October 23rd, 2012
8:07 am

MV is still a dangerous opponent. He can run and pass better than Cam Newton and has seen our Falcons many more times than RGIII. I feel we may overplay the passing lanes in hopes of the PIC 6 and may allow MV (POS) to run effectively against us. We continue to be soft in our coverage. Pay attention Falcons. I believe we will win but only if we can win the turnover ratio and put MV on his arse. Across the board falcons, good job on being penalized…Angry Birds ….RISE UP

Elvis is Alive

October 23rd, 2012
8:12 am

18th at last count…

Esquire

October 23rd, 2012
8:29 am

Paddy
October 23rd, 2012
7:59 am

David….you may want to re-write that 7:52 post.
***************************************
You’ve heard of Son of Sam, well he is Son of Joe Tess Fish House.

Esquire

October 23rd, 2012
8:31 am

Turner is averaging more yards per carry than McCoy………….4.3 to 4.1. It’s a tough order to go to Lincoln Financial and win but 7-0 would look mighty good!!

Extended forecast for Passyunk, PA on Sunday

Wunderground: Overcast. High of 61F. Winds from the NE at 5 to 10 mph.

Intellicast: Few showers. Highs in the upper 50s and lows in the upper 40s.

NWS: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 66. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

WPVI TV: 68° Clouds breaking at times for some sunshine Winds: 12mph WNW

RISE UP MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS!!!

North FLA Falcon

October 23rd, 2012
8:40 am

Time for us to step up! Show them who we are … win a big one on the road. GO FALCONS

SavDawg

October 23rd, 2012
8:50 am

I believe our tackling problem stems from the angles. We constantly overrun the ball carrier. Eveyrone is so fast ours and theirs.
Thats why we have so many arm tackles that fail. Seems we should work on angles and poisition to make tackles

SavDawg

October 23rd, 2012
8:54 am

Our running game will not improve unless we seriously improve our OL. We rarely get into thier second level. Getting into the second level is where a RB makes a difference. Seems that MT goes down with the first contact.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

October 23rd, 2012
8:55 am

Falcon James – Thanks. Had to burn up some time.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

October 23rd, 2012
8:57 am

Esquire – You’re working overtime this morning pumping out the stats.

tfalcon

October 23rd, 2012
9:16 am

I dont know about u guys,but this is the one thing i dont like about Smith,our last three games
our play has taken a dive downward to a point where we made oakland look like a contender
an after that performance they get a pat on the back and a week to themselves.sorry guys but like
ray said,been playing ball sin ce they were 10 and u have to teach tackling all over again that dont
seem right.And most everything that was pointed out we as fans can see that,don eed to be told what we already know just need it fixed.Teams are puttung it togeather now and i cant help but think
our team is heading for another embarrisment

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution lists five things the team learned over its bye [...]

TBALL

October 23rd, 2012
9:34 am

I don’t think the five things surprise anybody, but I’m glad they are working on them.

FALCONS RISE UP!!!!!!!

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution lists five things the team learned over its bye [...]

Ryder

October 23rd, 2012
9:47 am

If ever there was a time to utilize the screen pass, this would be the game. Philly has excellent corners and their front 4 will force Ryan to throw over the top to them, which he is prone to do at times. Nothing wrong with playing dink and dunk to keep the Eagles off balance. I expect this to be a low scoring 17-13 type game.

Esquire

October 23rd, 2012
10:01 am

D. Orlando Ledbetter
October 23rd, 2012
8:57 am

Esquire – You’re working overtime this morning pumping out the stats
*****************************
For me stats paint a picture…………until kick off. Welcome back!

TBALL

October 23rd, 2012
10:08 am

Enter your comments here

Realfalconfan

October 23rd, 2012
10:40 am

Ok ive been a fan for 35 years and ive seen good Ds not many on these Falcons teams…But this team is not that good on D .. So i do hope they can turn this around.. We cant stop the run and really we arent that good at stopping the pass.. U have to admit we got a few breaks its time to get this **** stright!!!! 6-0 Somehow when it could be 3-3 … Time to play like your Record of 6-0 and i want to see that Sunday!!! Rise up!!!

Marcus

October 23rd, 2012
10:48 am

From a laymans point of view, our concept and starting personnel on D is crafted to play pass-first teams that have minimized the importance of the rush game, e.g. GB, and maybe PHI.

We will see if we can survive like that. The return of C. Peters will help. but going 4-2-5 most of the time is basically designed to lock down the aerial assaults.

Esquire

October 23rd, 2012
10:59 am

Week 8 Power Poll: Atlanta Falcons hold off Houston Texans
NFL.com

Esquire

October 23rd, 2012
11:01 am

Week 8 Power Poll: New Orleans Caints hold off almost nobody……… #21
NFL.com

old falc

October 23rd, 2012
11:39 am

a half yard to a touchdown and we can’t get it or lose yards

bfred

October 23rd, 2012
11:44 am

The tackling style at the NFL level has been a mystery to me for years, and now it’s starting to infect college ball as well. Everyone wants the big, flying hit so they can get on the highlight reel; unfortunately unless it’s a direct his the runner is still on his feet and free to crank out more yards. My 10 year-old would be benched if he tried to tackle like that. That this is an issue at the professional level makes no sense whatsover. Fine people, bench people, do whatever it takes until players get the message. 28th against the rush says it all.

WhiteShoes

October 23rd, 2012
11:51 am

I can understand the stop run issues and need for improvement, but I don’t get the run attack issues…Turner is averaging 15 carries a game and he’s gotta 4+ yard avg. It was the gameplan from the beginning and its holding end its end of the bargain here. This Philly game is about as dangerous as it gets…IN Philly & they are DESPERATE for a win. Gut check time.

Falcon James

October 23rd, 2012
12:00 pm

The Falcon been watching too much Bobby Bouchet and not getting the can opened. Like Bfred said, that style and missing tackles would find a lot of players warming the bench.

Esquire

October 23rd, 2012
12:04 pm

Realfalconfan
October 23rd, 2012
10:40 am

Ok ive been a fan for 35 years and ive seen good Ds not many on these Falcons teams…But this team is not that good on D .. So i do hope they can turn this around.. We cant stop the run and really we arent that good at stopping the pass.. U have to admit we got a few breaks its time to get this **** stright!!!! 6-0 Somehow when it could be 3-3 … Time to play like your Record of 6-0 and i want to see that Sunday!!! Rise up!!!
*********************************************
The amazing thing about the 2012 Falcons D is though ranked 22nd in total defense they are ranked 4th in scoring defense.

This is a fun read on the 1977 Atlanta Falcons Gritz Blitz: http://tinyurl.com/9td2mbv

single white dove

October 23rd, 2012
12:23 pm

Does anyone here know the Falcons rocord coming off a bye week? I think it is horrible…

Amnesia

October 23rd, 2012
12:29 pm

It is quite interesting that the O-line was not discussed. I’m not sure if anyone remembers the game against Philly last season but the Philly’s defensive front destroyed our O-line. Especially T. Cole who manhandled S. Baker on every down. M. Ryan was running for his life and this is the same O-line from last season. Some may say that S. Baker is better this season and that is partially true. However, the O-line has struggled against good D-lines and failed to pass protect. It is no surprise that Smith is talking about the running game.
I will give credit where credit is due. The O-line has done a good job for the first quarter of the season with the exception of couple games. With that said, I truly believe that we need to get in better linemen next season and have L. Holmes and P. Kontz a shot as well.
The O-line has done a good job limited sacks except for the career high 7 sacks game. It is the QB hits allowed that worries me. The risk of injury for Ryan only increases if the o-line continues to allow alarmingly high QB hits.

B'Red

October 23rd, 2012
12:30 pm

You cant look at the stats on Turner and say he is a good running back, you have to watch the game and see how he gets his yards. He cannot get you 1 yard when you absolutey need just 1 yard. Maion Barber gets 3 yards without anyone blocking for him. If we dont have anybody esle to run the ball. I’ll say give antone Smith his shot, and do something about the that MLB position. If nothing is done and we stay pat, its gonna come back and bite us in the A–.

True Falcon Fan

October 23rd, 2012
12:58 pm

Hey ZERO aka JSS you out there??? Certainly you have your own scouting opinion, surely/Shirley you could express or is it your position is when the Falcons get their first lose. You will come out of your cave/groto of NO admittance. Stating with your 14D botox rimed mouth “See i told you idoits” —- comOn man what say you???

Go Falcons —- Eaglettes next

True Falcon Fan

October 23rd, 2012
1:07 pm

@ 1:01 —- Please identify yourself sir — i mean “TRULY” then the real troll will recognized??

Go Falcons — Eaglettes next

True Falcon Fan

October 23rd, 2012
1:11 pm

1:01 Also i’m sure/Shirley you are a fisherman or maybe you enjoy singing……….Or Whatever?????

Esquire

October 23rd, 2012
1:12 pm

Esquire
October 23rd, 2012
12:26 pm

Dude, This is the internet generation, all you have to do is Type in taht question, it realy isn’t too hard.
****************************
What a compliment, somebody wants to be me…………..!!! Frankly I would not have responded to the post. I think maybe what happened here is one poster the same as the impostor.

True Falcon Fan

October 23rd, 2012
1:35 pm

Esquire —- you think all these A–holes all are one in the same —- euwee that’s plum ugly…..

:) :) —– IALMFAO :) :) :)