Archive for October, 2012

Atlanta Falcons: Is Michael Vick the ‘Coach Killer’?

FLOWERY BRANCH — Maybe the elder Jim Mora had it correct in 2006 when he concurred with the basic concept that then-Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was a “coach killer.”

Falcons coaches Dan Reeves and Jim Mora were fired while Vick was the quarterback.

Bobby Petrino signed on to coach Vick. But when Vick was suspended and eventually went to prison on federal dogfighting charges, Petrino grew tired of Joey Harrington and Byron Leftwich and went back to the college game.

Now, Andy Reid, the longest-tenured head coach in the NFL with the same team, is doing the rope-a-dope to retain his job.

With Vick manufacturing turnovers at an alarming rate, both men are in danger of losing their jobs as they prepare to face the Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said Reid’s status will become clear at the end of the season. Reid said he is not ready to walk away from the job he’s held since Jan. 11, 1999.

“I haven’t gotten to that moment,” …

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Video: The Falcons’ leaky run defense will be tested by LeSean McCoy

FLOWERY BRANCH — The 6-0 Falcons visit the Eagles on Sunday and will attempt to tighten up their run defense against the elusive LeSean McCoy. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter reports.

LATEST NEWS

Q&A: Falcons coach Mike Smith on first practice after the bye week

Tight end Michael Palmer (shoulder injury) returned to practice on Monday

Defensive tackle Corey Peters (stress fracture left foot) returned to practice on Monday

OTHER RECENT STORIES

Falcons shrugging off critics

Nicholas held out of practice with ankle injury

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

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Atlanta Falcons: Corey Peters could return to lineup Sunday

By Michael Cunningham

Falcons defensive tackle Corey Peters practiced with the starting group today and could return to play against the Eagles on Sunday.

Peters returned to the practice field this week after rehabilitating a left foot injury he suffered during the offseason. The Falcons have three weeks to decide whether to add him to the active roster.

After participating in Monday’s practice with no contact, Peters increased his reps today.

“He’s progressed,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “He’s not in football shape. That’s going to be a big concern. We have to weigh that in as we make a decision [on] is it this week or next week [for Peters' return].”

Peters was injured prior to Atlanta’s offseason programs and so hadn’t participated in any football activities since January. But he said he hasn’t been holding back in his return.

“We are trying to go full speed,” Peters said before today’s practice. “We are going to do the best we can. I need to have it in my head …

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Atlanta Falcons: Michael Vick vs. Falcons now more like a footnote

By Michael Cunningham

Michael Vick once energized the Falcons fanbase while winning big games. His success in Atlanta and the notorious circumstances of his departure mean he’s always going to be part of the story when his Eagles team plays the Falcons.

But Vick vs. the Falcons has become more of a footnote with each passing season since Vick last played for Atlanta in 2006. Now it’s more about the Falcons vs. the Eagles.

“Having played against the Eagles [with Vick] so many times, I don’t think it’s something the guys in here talk about or even think about that all that much,” Matt Ryan said today. “There’s probably only a handful of guys left that played with Mike. I think we are probably a little bit beyond that at this point, five years removed.”

Roddy White is one of five current Falcons to play with Vick along with Todd McClure, Jonathan Babineaux, Tyson Clabo and John Abraham.

White agreed that the Vick era is solidly in the past now.

“We play each other so much …

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Atlanta Falcons: Nolan thinks Eagles’ offense is a ’sleeping giant’

Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan (right) talks with head coach Mike Smith during a June practice. He has not had much success against Peyton Manning in past.  JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan (right) talks with head coach Mike Smith during a June practice. He has not had much success against Peyton Manning in past. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan would like to see the defensive line become more active in stopping the run.

Too many runs are reaching the second level of the defense and that has contributed to the missed tackles and unit’s inability to stop the run. The Falcons are giving up 143.8 yards rushing per game, which ranks 28th in the league.

Here are some excerpts from Nolan’s weekly media session:

Q: What makes the Philadelphia offense tick?

A: They have very good skill players and a very good scheme. They’ve been good for a long time. …They’ve got very good wide receivers. Michael Vick has been a very good addition. They are very explosive on offense. The West Coast offense is geared to get the player the ball as quickly as possible. I think they do a …

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Atlanta Falcons: Koetter ready to face the ‘Wide Tackle Nine’

OC Dirk Koetter is in search of that perfect game.

OC Dirk Koetter is in search of that perfect game.

FLOWERY BRANCH –Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said the offense is search of that perfect game.

He knows achieving that goal will be difficult against a talented Eagles’ defense that will be playing its first game under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles when the Falcons face the Eagles at 1 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Here are some excerpts from Koetter’s weekly media session.

Q: What were you all able to ascertain from your bye-week self scout?

A: When you’ve got a week to study yourself, you can spin those numbers and spin those plays a lot of different ways. I would choose to keep some of those findings to myself, but we want to run the ball better, we want to pass it better and we want to score more points. We definitely have not played our best football on offense yet. We studied ourselves across the board in every situation. We need to get better across the board and I’m confident that …

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Atlanta Falcons: Armstrong is high on Brandon Boykin

Former UGA standout Brandon Boykin is averaging 22.1 yards on 18 kickoff returns for the Eagles this season. Here he is at the NFL scouting combine. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com)

Former UGA standout Brandon Boykin is averaging 22.1 yards on 18 kickoff returns for the Eagles this season. Here he is at the NFL scouting combine. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com)

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong is impressed with the Eagles’ returners DeSean Jackson, Demaris Johnson and Brandon Boykin.

Here are some excerpts from Armstrong’s weekly interview session.

Q: How do you see the Eagles returners?

A: It’s a good group. A slippery group. Very slippery. All of them are explosive. They can make you miss in a phone booth. They are guys that can hit it. They are capable of making big plays. We have to do a really nice job in coverage in terms of stopping their returns.

Q: Will this be the best tandem that the Falcons have faced this season?

A: Yes. It will be. We know what DeSean can do. He can make plays. We have to respect him for that. Boykin has the speed to go make plays. (Damaris Johnson) is another that can go out …

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Atlanta Falcons: Akeem Dent winning over his linebacker mates

Stephen Nicholas (right) joins fellow linebackers Sean Weatherspoon and Akeem Dent during a training camp practice. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Stephen Nicholas (right) joins fellow linebackers Sean Weatherspoon and Akeem Dent during a training camp practice. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

By Michael Cunningham

Asked about fellow Falcons linebacker Akeem Dent’s play in the last game, Sean Weatherspoon flashes the kind of wide grin that suggests he thinks the Falcons might be on to something.

Dent played every defensive snap during a 23-20 victory over the Raiders in Week 6. It was the most extensive playing time for Dent since the Falcons drafted him in 2011.

Weatherspoon was curious to see how the first-year starter would handle himself in those circumstances. He said he came away impressed with Dent.

“I was excited to be out there with him for a lot of the time and just talking with him and see how he goes along with the ebbs and the flow of the game,” Weatherspoon said. “That was my first time really getting to play with him a lot. It was fun. I look forward to seeing him continue to have a bigger role in our …

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Falcons don’t expect Eagles’ D to change under Bowles

By Michael Cunningham

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Eagles have a new defensive coordinator after coach Andy Reid fired Juan Castillo last week and replaced him with Todd Bowles. The Eagles had a bye so the Falcons haven’t seen their defense with Bowles in charge.

Falcons center Todd McClure said that lack of information “definitely can present a little bit of a problem” for Atlanta’s preparations but he doesn’t think it will be a major issue.

“It’s still going to be the same guys we’ve seen on film,” McClure said. “I don’t think they are going to drastically change what they’ve done. They’ve had training camp to put in their defensive philosophies and the first six games of the season. I just can’t see them changing too much.”

Bowles was hired as Philadelphia’s defensive backs coach in January. He’s been an NFL defensive assistant since 2000 and led the Dolphins to a 2-1 record as interim coach last season.

“I’ve known Todd a long time,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “He’s an …

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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 …

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