Report card: Falcons’ grades for loss to Saints





Here are the Falcons’ grades for the 31-27 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

B — Quarterbacks: Matt Ryan passed for a career-high 411 yards and had a passer rating of 100.7. It marked the first time that the Falcons have loss when he’s had a passer rating of more than 100. They are now 29-1 in such games. Ryan had the team poised to win despite the running game being closed for business. He completed passes to eight different receivers including lineman Mike Johnson, who caught a 1-yard touchdown pass as a tight end eligible. Ryan completed 34 of 52 passes, had three touchdowns and one interception. The inability to get 1 yard wasted this fine effort.

D — Running backs: The Falcons were held to 46 yards rushing. Outside of an 18-yard run by Jacquizz Rodgers, they were stuffed. Michael Turner was held to 15 yards on 13 carries. Rodgers had four catches for 33 yards receiving. Jason Snelling caught two passes for 12 yards. There didn’t appear to be much available as the backs were hit in the backfield often.

B — Receivers: Tight end Tony Gonzalez and wideouts Roddy White and Julio Jones stepped up to help Ryan carry the one dimensional offense. Gonzalez had 11 catches for 122 yards and touchdowns. White backed up all of his talk with seven catches for 114 yards. Jones, who missed 28 plays with a leg injury, had four catches for 75 yards. Gonzalez became the eighth player – and the first tight end — in league history to catch 100 touchdown passes on a 2-yard touchdown grab with 6:27 left in the second quarter. The Falcons knew scoring in close would be a problem early as they may have used their tackle-eligible pass play to Mike Johnson too early in the game.

D-minus — Offensive line: The coaching staff clearly doesn’t have any confidence that the unit can knock back the line of scrimmage. Repeatedly, in short-yardage situations, the Falcons elected to pass the ball. The unit couldn’t open any holes in the running game. However, the unit was near flawless on 52 pass drops. Ryan was sacked once and the Saints had just on quarterback hit.

C-minus — Defensive line: The defensive ends couldn’t take advantage of Saints backup right tackle Charles Brown, a former second-round pick who has struggled in the past. He was starting for the injured Zach Strief. John Abraham played a season-low 32 snaps and was on the field for just 52 percent of the defensive snaps. He was a non-factor. Ray Edwards played 20 of the 62 snaps (32 percent) and Kroy Biermann played 46 snaps (74 percent).

C — Linebackers: Akeem Dent led the defense with nine tackles, but the unit didn’t have a good day against the run or in coverage. The Saints ran for 148 yards and tight end Jimmy Graham was on the loose all day. Veteran Mike Peterson had a strong five-tackle day while playing on 30 of 62 snaps (48 percent). Stephen Nicholas had the team’s only sack and had a tackle for a loss.

F — Defensive backs: Asante Samuel had come up strong in run support all season, but he lost containment on Chris Ivory’s 56-yard touchdown run and made a feeble attempt to push him out of bounds. He also cost the Falcons field position with an unsportsmanlike penalty after his interception. The normally sure-tackling group didn’t seem to want any parts of Ivory, who they made look like Eric Dickerson in his No. 29 jersey.

A — Special teams: Matt Bryant bounced back from his two misses last week against Dallas to make a 37-yarder and a 20-yarder. Punter Matt Bosher had a strong day. He averaged 46.7 yards on three punts and placed one down inside the 20.

D — Coaching: The Falcons rush to turn into a passing team caught up with them. As they were adjusting, they needed to take the power rushing game with them. (Who’s got Ovie Mughelli’s phone number?) On the key plays at the end they went with a 21 personnel (two tight ends and one running back) with Julio Jones and Roddy White flanked. That’s a passing formation. They have been creative in the past and put a lineman in the backfield for some power. They also used their tackle eligible play too early and couldn’t use it late in the game. The decision not to go for two points after cutting the score to 28-23 was dubious. What’s the difference in being down four or five points because you still need a touchdown? If they would have converted the two-point conversion they would have only needed a field goal. They haven’t fixed the missed tackling on defense and need to get the ground game going to balance out the offense.

NEXT UP: The Falcons (8-1) host the Arizona Cardinals (4-5) at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

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106 comments Add your comment

bowfan

November 12th, 2012
10:11 am

I’d drop the rating for the QB. Several of those passes in the end zone just weren’t thrown where only the our receiver could catch them. And the receivers dropped too many…

bowfan

November 12th, 2012
10:16 am

I guess I forgot to say, thanks for the articles DOL and doing a good job with them!

SeminoleWarrior

November 12th, 2012
10:26 am

Outstanding grades, Godfather!!

GregKennesaw

November 12th, 2012
10:27 am

Ryan deserves an A,RB’s an F

The Falcon Project

November 12th, 2012
10:30 am

Fair assessments, although I think you’re giving the defensive line a tad too much credit; I’d drop them to a D.

Jim

November 12th, 2012
10:46 am

Just give em all unsatisfactory and be done with it!!!!!!!!

Buckeye

November 12th, 2012
10:48 am

Enter your comments here

Buckeye

November 12th, 2012
10:48 am

Dent don’t

abby normal

November 12th, 2012
10:53 am

My grade for the entire team: Incomplete!

Scott

November 12th, 2012
10:53 am

What about a grade for management. 2013 draft. 1st rd.—Best defensive tackle available. 2 rd–best offensive guard available. 3rd rd.—any running back who runs angry. Repeat until end of draft.

Mongo

November 12th, 2012
10:54 am

Don’t blame Samuals only. I saw Robinson dive at the feet of RB’s &WR’s at least four times. People scout you and know that that is your prefered way to tackle and easily avoid you. Hit them and WRAP them up!!!!

Blackcow

November 12th, 2012
10:54 am

I think DOL is a super douche, first off. Just his whole demeanor and the way he conducts himself in player interviews and how he acts around the other writers and reporters. Ok? Ok.

Now, as for the team, I first said a couple of weeks ago that he shouldn’t see too many other snaps than in goal line situations…well now I must say I don’t even believe he’s good for that anymore. We need more of Quizz and Snelling. Snelling particularly in goal line or short yardage situations.

And DOL is a tool.

Barry

November 12th, 2012
10:54 am

Enter your comments here

robert

November 12th, 2012
10:55 am

This is a problem held over from last year. You have to be able to get a yard. One yard at least half the time. We cant. The big running back is so slow getting to the line. Dude, shed 15 pounds and get under 250. be quicker. That would help

Blackcow

November 12th, 2012
10:56 am

He= Michael Turner. Apologies.

TDnoclue

November 12th, 2012
10:58 am

The Falcons can’t tackle. It’s been a problem all year.

blove

November 12th, 2012
11:04 am

The falcants are who we thought they were. FRAUDS !

FHZ

November 12th, 2012
11:08 am

Sam J.:

What should Falcons do?

Put the alcohol, strippers, gold-diggers, down on Mondays..

Pick up a play-book and study, and..

“Falcons wake UP!!!”

All Praises to YHWH

robert

November 12th, 2012
11:13 am

Falcons are 8 and 1. Probably gonna make the playoffs. This team in all reality, is playing about as well as it can. The coaching staff has done a good job of getting the max out of what they have. Great offensive skill people. Average or below offensive line. 6 guys name Joe on the defensive line. No run stopper in the middle. If they are to make a run at this, they are gonna have to figure out a way to slow these elite qbs down, and stop getting shredded for 300 plus yards a game. The margin for error in winning and losing in the NFL is a very narrow window.

Twinkle Toes He's Not

November 12th, 2012
11:15 am

It is very unfortunate but I totally agree with Robert. We have no running game and have been forced to become a one-dimensional offense. Michael Turner has become far too slow hitting the holes. Rogers is plenty fast enough but he is too small to be consistantly effective (especially running inside). Until we improve our running game, we will never make it to the Super Bowl.

Groundhog Day Again

November 12th, 2012
11:16 am

Turner for one. Turner for one. Turner for one. Turner for 10. Turner for one. Turner for one. Seriously, this has been a broken record with the Falcons running game for a few years now. How about spending some bucks on someone fleet of foot and who merits a running back title. Turner ran out of gas many years ago, despite the overall yardage. A 50 yard run in a game doesn’t offset 25 one yard runs in the same game.

P.S. Secondary tackles like a bunch of sissies. Quit focusing on swatting/ripping balls out of receivers hands and make an honest to goodness real tackle.

Get Back Jojo

November 12th, 2012
11:16 am

@TDnoclue…You are so right. How many times do one, two, or even three guys put hands on a runner, only to just let him pass? Bust him to the ground. That’s why you make the big bucks.

Play Ball…..

GO FALCONS!!!

George

November 12th, 2012
11:19 am

Falcon and braves are the same great record and will be at home after first round.LOSERSSS

robert

November 12th, 2012
11:24 am

Anybody remember the Dallas Cowboy offensive line when they were winning superbowls? We need a Larry Allen. Those guys went 330 across the front. I want just one of them. And we need a Leon Lett without the stupidity. That would sure as hell help

rocki84

November 12th, 2012
11:27 am

New defensive coach, millions of dollars on draft for new linemen, focus and talk about being physical on the line, and we still can’t get a yard when we need it. I would be a pissed owner if I spent my $$$ on NOTHING!!

robert

November 12th, 2012
11:31 am

Remember. Your offensive line doesnt need to dominate an entire game. But they do need to dominate a play here and a play there. I cant get the vision of Matt Ryan being hit from behind in the dallas game out of my mind. Man…

Tom(Independent Viet Vet-USAF)

November 12th, 2012
11:37 am

Need to somehow bring back Harvey Dahl, our line was mean and nasty at that time. Should have given him his money, instead of letting him go!

Whadda Ya Know?

November 12th, 2012
11:39 am

Falcons are who we thought they were. A mediocre team pretending to be the best team in the NFC. Too many holes in the defense (Dline, LB, secondary) and offensive line is full of fat pillsbury boys. No one has any strength to get a one yard push–for how many years in a row now? At least two or three. Coaching is still and issue with Smith keeping is hands in the cookie jar. You’re the team manager, not the coach who draws up the game plans. Leave that to the experts and stop your love affair with Turner already. Dimitroff or Arthur has to step in and have a talk with Smitty. All this “most winning HC” in Falcon history bull$hit needs to stop. The man is Schottenheimer reincarnated. Leave the play alling to the experts.

monty

November 12th, 2012
11:40 am

I’ve been saying the past 3-4 weeks that the inablity to run for short yardage would come back and bite them and it did. How can you not pick up a 3rd and 1 or 2 at least 60% of the time? THey are more like 10%. Mind blowing. Come playoff time they will be another one and done. THis coming from a lifelong diehard fan. Passing game is pretty sharp but in the playoffs the better defensive teams will put so much pressure on Matt if we cannot run somewhat effectively.

rocki84

November 12th, 2012
11:42 am

Lets give Smitty credit where credit is due. He is winning, but he does need more talent, AND he does need to realize that Turner’s days are over. ( He may already know this but has to work with what he has)

David

November 12th, 2012
11:49 am

Draft needs:

1.) Offensive Line: We have a bad offensive line to begin with, and it doesn’t help that Clabo and McClure are well past their primes. The difference in McClure now and two years ago is astounding.

2.) Defensive Line: Almost tempted to put Linebacker here, but will hold off, because I think linebacking and secondary play are that much better when you have a strong defensive line. Abe isn’t getting any younger, and Bierman/Edwards/Sidbury are hardly No. 2 edge rushers. We could also use some real girth in the middle (a DT that weighs in at the 330+ range) to help plug the run.

3.) Linebackers: Outside of Weatherspoon, this is a bad group. They’re hurting us in the run and pass.

4.) Running back: Probably a bigger need than “4th most important,” but you can get a good running back in the 4th, 5th, or 6th rounds. Even if we have to go with a guy that’s a little raw, get someone who’s a talent and runs with some passion and conviction. I was beside myself when I saw Turner tip-toe on that 3rd and goal; I get that you want to wait for the hole to open up, but on a 3rd and goal from the one, just plow straight forward and move the guy who tries to tackle you.

5.) TE: Could be Tony’s last year. That’s going to hurt us more than a lot of people realize.

Over Analyst

November 12th, 2012
11:52 am

D to the coachs? The team is 8-1. The offensive line play is a complete joke. That is the only real issue with this team. Sam Baker fell down and blocked no one on the 3rd down play at the goal line. On 4th and 1, Clabo wiffed at the DE, hardly touched him, otherwise, Ryan doesn’t have to throw off his back foot and White was open.

Over Analyst

November 12th, 2012
11:56 am

@Whadda Ya Know?
“A mediocre team pretending to be the best team in the NFC. ”

And yet the record is 8-1.

Idiot.

old timer

November 12th, 2012
11:56 am

Oh how I long for the days of Mike Kenn, R.C Thieleman, Van Note, Dave Scott, and Warren Bryant Now those guys knew how to open a hole!!

tidog

November 12th, 2012
11:57 am

Jim Brown couldn’t run behind that offensive line yesterday.

Fedup Falcon

November 12th, 2012
11:57 am

I agree with monty. No pass rush plus no running game equals one and done in the playoffs.At least give us a game with Quizz and Snelling and see how it goes.Also wheres Matthews,Massaqui and Sidbury?

Over Analyst

November 12th, 2012
11:59 am

@old timer
“Oh how I long for the days of Mike Kenn, R.C Thieleman, Van Note, Dave Scott, and Warren Bryant Now those guys knew how to open a hole!!”

And the record proves it….Idiot.

Esquire

November 12th, 2012
12:01 pm

5-6-7-8
Everywhere we goooO,
Everywhere we goooO,
People wanna knooOw,
People wanna knooOw,
Who we aaa are,
Who we aaa are,
So we tell theem, So we tell theem,
We are the FALCONS!! We are the FALCONS!!
MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS, MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS !!
OHH AHH OHH YEEAHH

Esquire

November 12th, 2012
12:03 pm

We got a rested Arizona team coming to the GA Dome.
Falcons offense
PTS 27.4 (7th) YDS 385.2 (6th) PASS YDS 292.6 (4th) RUSH YDS 92.7 (26th)
Falcons defense
PTS 19.3 (6th) YDS 365.6 (20th) PASS YDS 235.8 (19th) RUSH YDS 129.8 (25th)
Arizona offense
PTS 16.0 (31st) YDS 295.4 (31st) PASS YDS 219.2 (20th) RUSH YDS 76.2 (32nd)
Arizona defense
PTS 19.2 (5th) YDS 320.7 (9th) PASS YDS 194.6 (2nd) RUSH YDS 126.1 (24th)

danny

November 12th, 2012
12:04 pm

Micheal Turner is the worst short yardage back in the NFL. It’s unbelievable! He weighs 250 pounds and can’t get 6 feet?! As soon as he gets the ball, he starts tippy tapping his feet

Bills fan

November 12th, 2012
12:06 pm

I like the DOL handles his business.

old timer

November 12th, 2012
12:07 pm

That was the line from the 1980 12-4 team in particular that blocked for Cain and Andrews. Arguably the best team in Falcons history, aside from the “98 super Bowl team…..but what do I know, I’m just an “idiot”…Were you even born then Over Analyst?

Papa Pink

November 12th, 2012
12:12 pm

Too many flags on the Falcons. I’m sure Coach Smith will address that this week.

Chill

November 12th, 2012
12:15 pm

My Guess is Thomas Dmitroff wanted to move on from Michael Turner two years ago but when he sold the farm for Julio he hitched the Falcons Run game to Turner for the next couple of seasons. Its obvious that Turner should no longer be starting for this team. It will not be until the Falcons replace Tuner in the draft with an explosive and dynamic RB that can both Run in between the tackles and catch the ball out of the backfield that this offense will reach its full potential. Playoffs team do not get far if they can’t run the ball, and unfortunately i don’t think we have the talent in the backfield to be more than a one & done.

Over Analyst

November 12th, 2012
12:17 pm

@old timer
Arguably the best team in Falcons history,

Yeah, those 270 lb lineman would be real effective against the D Lines of today. A one year flash in the pan doesn’t make for a great legacy.

Esquire

November 12th, 2012
12:18 pm

A huge shout out to Asante T. Samuel, thank you for costing this team and city the “W”.

That’s worth repeating:

A huge shout out to Asante T. Samuel, thank you for costing this team and city the “W”.

Esquire

November 12th, 2012
12:20 pm

@Over Analyst
November 12th, 2012
12:17 pm

……………..easy man, your dunce hat is showing………….!!

Over Analyst

November 12th, 2012
12:22 pm

Turner just doesn’t seem to have the explosive burst when he hits the hole. But yesterday, in those goal line situations, the run and pass blocking was as bad as you will ever see it.

With all of the “issues” of this team, they had a 75% chance of getting the winning TD on that last series, 2nd and goal from the 1.

Even with all of that horrible blocking, on the last possession, if White keeps running instead of back peddling, he has a TD.

"E" from Riverdale

November 12th, 2012
12:22 pm

Fedup Falcon, you mafe a good point. Where are the other guys you drafted or made the team. Man the name of the game is winning. Snelling and Quizz deserve deserve more playing time. It is time to move on and put M. Turner out to pasture. The Falcons fans and organization will alaways be greatfull to Turner for what he brought to the team when he frst arrived, but that was then and this now. Give A. Smith, Quizz and Snelling a chance to contribute.

The Deense needs some changes o the Defensive line. Hopefully the Falcons will part ways with Ray Edwards and Dunta Robinson after this season, unlikely though in Rbinson case after the injury to Grimes.

Esquire

November 12th, 2012
12:23 pm

old timer
November 12th, 2012
12:07 pm

That was the line from the 1980 12-4 team in particular that blocked for Cain and Andrews.
**********************************
That was a fine running back tandem, just damn fun!!!