Streak Over – Falcons Run Redskins

Birds Pull Away from ‘Skins

What a Day for #33 (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The Falcons ended their only two game skid in the Coach Mike Smith era by blistering the Redskins in the first half, and then holding on in the second half after coming out completely flat in the third quarter. Not the most satisfying of victories in terms of complete games, but a needed win at home to snap the streak nonetheless. Michael Turner made us all remember why he is one of the best running backs in the game, basically putting the entire game on his tough-running legs. Matt Ryan continued his struggles as a second year quarterback, and the defense had a huge day in all aspects from the defensive line to the linebackers to the vastly improved secondary. The Falcons defense had 5 sacks in the first half alone and played lights out in quarters one and two, but came out maybe a little too comfortable in the second half and let the Redskins climb back in the game. A win that was expected and one where the Falcons took care of business, which wasn’t a guarantee in previous regimes. A look at the positions:

Defense

Studly Defensive Line

4 Sack Day for DL (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The defensive line followed up their pretty good game against the Saints with a dominating performance against the Redskins front line. Granted, the Redskins possess one of the worst offensive lines, and offenses in general, in the NFL but give credit where its due. The defensive line put constant pressure on Jason Campbell from the opening drive, particularly in the first half. Jonathan Babineaux had a monster game with 10 total tackles and 2 and a half sacks. Kroy Biermann chipped in 2 tackles and a nasty sack to start the game and John Abraham collared half a sack as well. Jamaal Anderson continued his solid play against the run after moving pretty permanently to defensive tackle, and Trey Lewis got involved quite a bit as well. Vance Walker is certainly making the most of his opportunity in the NFL showing good speed out of a big body and definitely giving a preview that he might be in the lineup for rotation for good. Poor second half, especially third quarter, but that can be said for the entire team. Grade – A

Solid LB Corps

The Birds got the usual tough performance from the linebacking corps. Mike Peterson led the way with 8 sol o tackles, Lofton had 8 total tackles, and Stephen Nicholas chipped in another 3 total stops as well. Along with the defensive line, the linebackers helped keep the Redskins under 100 yards combined rushing. The linebackers did give up several big third downs when Jason Campbell scrambled with his legs picking up 40 yards on the ground and some crucial first downs, particularly in the second half. This continues a bad trend on giving up yards on the ground to mobile QBs (remember Romo in Dallas?), especially with Donovan McNabb, Josh Freeman, Mark Sanchez, and Trent Edwards on the horizon. Grade – B

Vastly Improved Secondary

Welcome to the lineup and to Atlanta Tye Hill! What a home debut Tye Hill made in red and black in the Terror-Dome. Heads up play to catch the tipped pass for an interception, but the run back for a touchdown was pretty remarkable to see. 62 yard touchdown return that saw Hill make some pretty nice moves to cross the pylon. Surely its early, but it looks like Thomas Dimitroff may have done it again in snagging Hill with a seventh round draft pick. Many fans and this author included clamored for Hill to get in the lineup earlier, but Dominique Foxworth didn’t start until the seventh game. Chris Houston had 5 tackles and looked better than previous games and Chevis Jackson had a sack from the nickel slot, possibly taking over his role from last year. Erik Coleman had 7 tackles and Thomas DeCoud collared another 3 total tackles. The secondary got a lot of help from the front seven in terms of pressure and defended a pretty anemic passing attack, but give credit where its due, particularly from the most beleaguered unit on the team a couple of weeks ago. With rookies Chris Owens and William Moore on deck for next year, it appears the future may not be so dark in the secondary after all. Grade – A-

Beautiful Pick Six by Hill (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Game Ball – Tye Hill gets a consideration, but Jonathan Babineaux earns the game ball with a huge 2.5 sack day

Offense

Young Ryan QB

Matt Ryan didn’t have the best day today, but then again when Michael Turner runs like that he doesn’t need to. Ryan completed 17 out of 24 passes with one TD and one interception for 135 yards. Pretty much a non-factor for the most part. The Falcons jumped out to a big lead thanks to Turner’s running and Tye Hill’s pick six, so the play-calling surely got conservative (too conservative in the 3rd quarter) and with the Burner on fire, than play the hot hand. Ryan was sacked 3 times and seemed a little gun-shy after his pick which was a really terrible decision. Even though he didn’t have the most stellar of days, Coach Smith commented on how well Ryan audibled into running plays, one of which scored. It may be too easy to place blame on Ryan because maybe it’s the O-Line, the sacks, his second year, the play-calling, receiver routes, or a combination of all the above, but the bottom line remains that Ryan is not the same QB as a year ago. Grade – C

Turner the Man

Simply put, Michael Turner is The Man and is on a mission to get back to the playoffs and Pro-Bowl. Turner ran as good as he ever has in red and black, running hard, fast, using mad moves, and turning on the afterburners in the Terror-Dome today. #33 racked up 166 yards on the ground with two beautiful touchdown runs of 30 and 58 yards, not including another huge run that was called back by a penalty. The Falcons seemed to have found their rushing attack again, and most credit goes to The Burner himself. The offensive line must be doing a better job creating holes for the back. Jerious Norwood’s lightning quick speed is missed in some aspects, especially in situations such as Aaron Stecker failing to make a first down with a wide open space ahead in the 3rd quarter, but he did have 3 receptions for 22 yards. Ovie Mughelli’s return and presence is being felt throughout the team. Grade – A+

Receivers

Not a huge day for the receivers, but as mentioned earlier, they didn’t need one with the way Turner ran the ball. Gonzalez led the way with 41 yards and one touchdown and Roddy White had 3 grabs for 27 yards. The injury to Finneran may be of concern, which would leave the Falcons at 4 receivers. Might Troy Bergeron be getting a call from the practice squad. Grade – B

The Nasty Boys

The offensive line has gotten their mojo back in the form of imposing their will in the rushing attack. The offensive line paved the way for Turner against a formidable front including Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter, and Brian Orakpo. They were on their game and had the Redskins defensive line committing penalties and jumpy, chiefly in the first half. If the offensive line has re-discovered their rushing attack, they have lost their superb pass-blocking ability from the first 5 games, giving up sacks by the boat load. Just as Ryan’s subpar play may not be entirely his fault, some of the blame may lie with Ryan holding onto the ball a little too long or receivers not getting open. Regardless, the Nasty Boys have got to figure out ways to keep their franchise QB upright. Grade – B-

Game Ball – Easiest pick of the season…..Michael Turner: 166 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns.

Coaching

Get'em Coach! (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Coach Smith and Co. did what they were supposed to do in having the team prepared and beat teams they should beat. Coach Smith stopped his first small losing skid dead in its tracks by getting a win over the lowly Redskins. Smith and his teams toughness showed when they realized they were allowing the Redskins to get back in the game. Absolutely love the fire and passion of Smitty getting in the scrum on the sidelines and protecting his boys, notably getting in Me-Angelo Hall’s face, or mouth maybe the better term. His players will follow him anywhere for times like that, always having their back. Coming out completely flat in the second half is a cause for concern against an inferior opponent, but they did realize what was going on in time. Coach Van Gorder called a good game, particularly in the first half taking advantage of the Redskins weak offense and putting pressure on Jason Campbell. They have surged in stopping the running game pretty much from all teams except the Patriots. The secondary is improving every week and coaching up is obviously going on, just ask UGA fans what’s happened since he left Athens. Coach Mularkey gets mad props for re-discovering the running game. Whatever he and Coach Boudreau have figured out, they get great credit. The passing attack continues to be an issue, not sure who’s at fault, but it’s time for Mularkey to figure out the aerial game just as he did the rushing game. Grade – A

The Falcons came out strong, took their foot off the gas, but pulled away with the game against a lesser opponent. The Falcons were heavily favored today and the Redskins are certainly a team in disarray, but the Birds did what they had to do to get the win. It may not have been the prettiest win in the world, but it is a victory nonetheless and gets them to 5-3 at the midpoint. Save one game against the 49ers, the Falcons have not put together a complete game on offense and defense, and there are tons of areas for improvement (particularly Ryan and the passing game), but Falcons show great signs of a team looking to make the postseason again. Yes the Falcons beat a much weaker opponent today, but many times in this franchise’s history this wasn’t a guarantee.

Your Turn

-Impressed with the game as a whole?

-Turner officially back on track for another Pro-Bowl year?

-What’s the deal with the waves of sacks coming Ryan’s way?

-Is Ryan holding onto the ball too long and a little gun-shy?

-You fix the passing attack.

-Once a source of strength, is our WR corps running out of talent?

-Great D-Line performance or really weak ‘Skins O-Line?

-Concerned about mobile QB’s scrambling yardage?

-Tye Hill our lockdown CB we’ve been waiting for, or a way too early?

- Anxious about the Redskins scoring 17 points?

-How about Coach Smith? Would you want to play for him?

Best Play of Falcon's Win

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

187 comments Add your comment

boxcarar

November 8th, 2009
9:49 pm

boxcarar

November 8th, 2009
9:50 pm

D3,
I can’t give grades until I view game. That will happen after Sunday night game. Glad that you are back to full CPU strenght.

falcon21

November 8th, 2009
9:55 pm

Better you than me BC. Good win today or at least I think so.

boxcarar

November 8th, 2009
9:58 pm

falc21,
I saw posts that questioned our meddle in the second half. Did we get lazy, or are injuries taking their toll on fatigue. If a player sits out of practice all week, their fitness will suffer. IMHO

boxcarar

November 8th, 2009
9:59 pm

Back in a while. Gotta take a test before midnight.

LRD

November 8th, 2009
10:05 pm

I will give our WR’s on thing, they can pop people on downfield blocks. Both white and jenkins decked people today…several times, and I mean decked.
WR’s though,couple times White or Jenkins would be open, almost totally wide open like no one within 10 yds of them, and Ryan would either dump off down or basically not even check them off.
To fix the passing attack is to keep Turner going, keep Ryan hitting short consistent patters to insure his confidence is back, and then attack down field. It seemed Ryan had “happy feet” and was again a bit uncomfortable again.
Turner seems to have it back. Yes it is the skins, but they did have a good defence.
What was worrisome about the skins, is they came out in the 2H and looked like a different team. How can our D go from 5 sacks in the 1H to what 1 in the 2H.
Babineaux had a wonderful game though.
And sitting there today, and looking down on the sideline skirmish, I would swear I saw blows being exchanged, and one of the ones throwing had no helmet and white hair.. even in the upper deck, you could feel the intensity shooting off Smith…. let’s bottle that up and use it in the future.

MSS

November 8th, 2009
10:13 pm

Great win and our D played great and our O played great to Hill had a big game and we need to win next week GO FALCONS!!!

falcon21

November 8th, 2009
10:15 pm

It’s a different game plan when you have the lead BC. Lazy or fatique has nothing to do with it with this coaching staff but being out a week your fitness will suffer. That goes with any sport. I’m out, have a good night Falcon fans.

Wabe

November 8th, 2009
10:15 pm

Agreed LRD. Good points.

Ryan must regain his confidence. Mularkey needs to get some easy passes for Ryan earlier in games to get the guy into rhythm and to build his confidence.

Ron

November 8th, 2009
11:10 pm

His story is almost unbelievable…. This guy John wins 97% of his NBA & MLB sports bets. He makes $70 K a week. Check it out! http://www.lasvegassportsodds.biz

Shawty

November 8th, 2009
11:12 pm

Whew, I just woke up. Fell asleep watching the Jints VS Iggles. And it’s tied. Yes, the Dome was quiet in the 3rd qtr. We tried to get the people around us fired up but it already seemed we would win so it was hard to do. You realise by the 4th we had taken out Portis, Campbell & Moss…

boxcarar

November 8th, 2009
11:17 pm

falc21,
I understand a different game plan with a lead, but 24-3 at the half is no time to shift gears until midway through the fourth quarter. Don’t let them up for air. If you want to give the offense some confidence, let them score 40 points on what seems to be an inferior team, and then let your starters ride some pine. IMHO.

Shawty

November 8th, 2009
11:32 pm

Damn, Austin TD – UB within 6 of catching me. Still have Buckhalter tomorrow night.

Wabe

November 8th, 2009
11:49 pm

Agreed 100% Box.

I can understand the Falcons giving the Skins the short passing game and even not playing the run as tight if they’re working with a 2 TD lead about midway through the 4th. But honestly, this DEF gave it to them the entire 2nd half – and it ended up getting the Skins right back in the game. There’s no harm in playing prevent, taking away the sidelines, and give them the short passes to keep the clock moving when you’re working with a 2 TD lead midway through the 4th. But, it seemed we took the foot off the accelerator much earlier than one would anticipate.

boxcarar

November 9th, 2009
12:19 am

Shawty,
Is that with the game over? Does UB have any players in MNF?

boxcarar

November 9th, 2009
12:22 am

Shawty,
UB has TE Heath on MNF. Cross your fingers. I believe that you will survive.

Shawty

November 9th, 2009
12:26 am

Yeah, bu I have Buckhalter to play too.

Shawty

November 9th, 2009
12:27 am

I think I will too…

Shawty

November 9th, 2009
12:29 am

Box, how’s it going in AR?

boxcarar

November 9th, 2009
12:33 am

Same old stuff. Cowgirls beat Philly. I don’t know where that will put us in the wild card race. We will need to beat Philly, for sure to stay in the race, though. I don’t know if we can catch NO to take division. They would have to totally collapse.

Dhunt

November 9th, 2009
12:36 am

I’m not trying to rain on the parade, but that “C” was mighty generous. You must be grading on a curve. On the Ryan interception both outside receivers were wide open and he threw the ball into triple coverage anyway and underthrew it at that. I’m not calling to bring back he who shall remain nameless, or bring in the obviously football challenged backup, but there has been and continues to be far too much anointing of this kid as the next coming of NFL QB greatness. Maybe he develops into that and maybe not, but it’s pretty obvious he is having a serious slump and yet, all I hear across the media is how good he is. Perhaps he should stop reading his press and start back reading defenses. I’m beginning to wonder if he’s actually scared to throw the ball down field, and arm strength and mobility are becoming more and more suspect. Let me be the first to say, I hope I’m wrong.

I saw at least one sack today that came on a three step drop. Ryan has to get rid of that ball, and that sometimes means throwing a good pass into tight coverage or to a quick check down or out of bounds, rather than take a sack because he is just standing three steps behind the line of scrimmage. One other sack came because the outside pressure got close but instead of stepping up and out of trouble Ryan stepped forward and then right back into a defender, instead of escaping out and upfield.

And can somebody explain to me why he takes a knee when the defense jumps offsides?!? I have never, ever seen an NFL QB do that. Isn’t that what they call a free play? Don’t most QB’s take that opportunity to take a shot at a big play, knowing that the worst that could happen would be offsetting penalties? I almost understand the one on fourth down, but he took the knee too early even then because the defender almost got back and that would have been a turnover on downs. It’s a bad habit no matter what.

Receivers have missed a couple of catchable balls. That’s no excuse not to throw it to them, and the outside guys simply are not being targeted, except on short comeback routes when the corner is playing 10+ yards off the ball. What happened to the double move? Is there a slant route in the playbook? Not ready to say that’s all on Ryan, but if it continues there is at least a coaching/play calling issue.

Babs was a beast today, as usual, and is likely the most underrated D-lineman in the league. Too early to tell about Tye Hill, and besides, opposing QB’s know that Houston will not turn his head to look for the ball (other than the very first pass his way today which he should have picked off) so they would rather throw at him anyway. Hill didn’t even get challenged much today.

Two more games like the last two and Turner is officially back. Better to peak at the end of the year than at the beginning like last year.

Shawty

November 9th, 2009
12:37 am

I know I was hoping CAR could take them dowm, but alas, NO. We must beat the Saints here. Finished painting, looks great.

Shawty

November 9th, 2009
12:43 am

Dhunt, I missed the kneel downs, was it really so bad? We headed home.

boxcarar

November 9th, 2009
12:49 am

Dhunt,
On the taking a knee, if a flag is thrown, he may be making sure that it is not a big play for the defense. If it turns out to be illegal procedure instead of offsides, then we only lose a maximum of 5 yards, but if he throws down field on a broken play, you can get burned just as easily as burning the opponent. If it is offsides, then we gain the five yards. Safer bet. IMHO

Shawty

November 9th, 2009
12:54 am

Well put Box.

boxcarar

November 9th, 2009
1:01 am

Thanks, Shawty. He may be trying to minimize a negative big play.

Birdman

November 9th, 2009
1:03 am

Great post D3
Turner looks to be back and I agree he gets the game ball.Yes it was the skins we played but there D is a good one and they did get a weeks rest.So the burner is looking darn good .
Hope Finn is OK .Hats off to Smith for being right in the thick of things. Like you said that will go a Long way with his men giving him a lot of respect. The ICE MAN looked OK but still a little shaky . He will only get better with time tho. Great game for Babs . Tye Hill may be the one.
Big game coming up next week ,Panthers playing better ball now but the Birds should take them if they bring there game . All the games left are winnable and we just might see a win out the rest of the season. Probably not but it is possible .I see a loss for the Saints coming .They seem to be getting more venerable each week. The Giants ant looking near as good this year as last and we could beat them also. Have not seen the outcome of the Eagles game but they to are beatable especially here at the Dome.
Falcons control there own destiny from here out and with the Burner getting on a roll and no more major injuries ,plus the return of Norwood , things could be good .

Go Falcons

boxcarar

November 9th, 2009
1:12 am

Birdman,
I just hope we can get our walking wounded back to full strength. I believe our fully healthy team can play with anyone. I know injuries are a part of the game, but can’t the football gods smile on Atlanta just a little? And how bad are the injuries? Are we endangering our top talent by forcing them to play? Could we have beat a second tier team like WAS and rest some of these guys?

Shawty

November 9th, 2009
1:15 am

The injuries do suck. I think we will be fine down the road though.

Birdman

November 9th, 2009
1:32 am

Good point boxcarar
But maybe our wounded back is just being let rest for a reason ? You never know

boxcarar

November 9th, 2009
1:36 am

Birdan,
So true. Go Birds!

Birdman

November 9th, 2009
1:47 am

Box you and Shawty keep the the cage alive .
I gota get some sleep . 6.30 coming soon and work calls.
Go Birds. God bless.

Box

November 9th, 2009
1:57 am

If Shawty can change…

Shawty

November 9th, 2009
1:58 am

Change into what???

Box

November 9th, 2009
2:00 am

Just a name.

Box

November 9th, 2009
2:07 am

In relation to the blog, the name changes (shortens), but the IP remains the same.

Box

November 9th, 2009
2:27 am

I’m out. Good night and God Bless.

Ed

November 9th, 2009
3:43 am

Glad to see you are back up and running at full stength D3 and you were at your usual best. I personally was impressed by just about all factions of the Falcons except at QB and I don’t see a change anywhere in the near future. The magic of last year just isn’t there and it could be a struggle all year for Ryan.

The Real Falcon

November 9th, 2009
8:23 am

LAST!

It would be nice to have a game where our quarterback doesn’t toss an interception.
It’s been quite a while!

Dhunt

November 9th, 2009
9:43 am

Box, your explanation leaves a little bit to be desired. The reason I say that is because the officials generally whistle the play dead when there’s an offensive illegal procedure. There’s no big play to avoid because the defense is not even given a chance to decline that penalty. .

JeanE

November 9th, 2009
9:47 am

Great win, little flat in the 3rd quarter but very enjoyable nonetheless! This just reinforced how happy I am that D. Hall the dope is gone gone gone! What a jerk (holding back on the language) and no class whatsoever. I’d take Smitty against him in a one on one anyday forget the age difference! I knew Matt Ryan would have a sophmore slump it was pretty much inevitable but he’ll be OK. He is looking a little deer in the headlights from getting hit alot more this year, guy needs to hit the weight room and add a few pounds b/c QB’s take hits. I am very worried about Finn, is he OK? He is so underated not just for his hands but his blocking both as a receiver and on special teams. I hope he’s going to be allright. Not on to Carolina, a team we shouldn’t take for granted and who always plays us tough. Go Birds!

mountain_jim

November 9th, 2009
10:44 am

What is wrong with Ryan’s field vision? That interception was thrown where all the defenders were, while on that play Roddy was wide open for a TD deep and Jenkins was wide open as well. Ryan is looking at Gonzo early and often, sometimes to the exclusion of all the other wide open receivers. Ryan looked so much better last year.

Paul

November 9th, 2009
10:50 am

Dhunt -
A false start by the offense would lead to a play being blown dead, however, offiicals allow play to continue on other offensive procedural penalties such as illegal formation, or two players in motion when the ball is snapped, etc.
As for Matt being the only QB to EVER take a knee when he draws the opponet offside, thats simply not accurate, NFL (or college) QBs routinely employ a “hard count” to draw the defense offsides in short yardage situations, if the D jumps offside you take the free 5 yards and move the chains, no need to risk having your QB get hit while he waits for the receiver to get down field.

Ackshun

November 9th, 2009
10:56 am

I think Mularkey will have to call a few more plays with Gonzalez kept in to block rather than running a route. Matt Ryan seems to have gotten a little spoiled by the big TE with fly-paper for hands. He is pushing to get the ball to him in high risk situations when other receivers are in single coverages against better matchups. Once Ryan starts spreading the ball around a bit better, it will take the heat off of the pass rush and make him less predictable (reducing his INT total).

Box

November 9th, 2009
11:35 am

Paul,
Thanks for the clarification.

Wabe

November 9th, 2009
12:33 pm

Co-sign your post about Ryan Dhunt.

Shawty

November 9th, 2009
12:44 pm

Hey Box, Wabe… 5-3 on the way to the playoffs.

LRD

November 9th, 2009
12:52 pm

For Houston.. it seemed everyone was screaming for him to turn his head around… he got lucky out there.. but you know the Law of Murphy will make sure that when it counts the most, houston will not be watching the ball, get a pass interference call setting up a winning score… I just hope it does not cost us a back to back season…

Wabe

November 9th, 2009
1:07 pm

I hear that Shawty. I still have this team winning 10-11 games – which should be good enough to get us into the playoffs. But, I wanna see this team make some noise in the playoffs. And to do that, we’ve got to be clicking.

Who knows, we all sat here in the Cage and criticized Turner for his tip toe efforts in the first half of the season – and he seems to have that corrected. The guy’s running with authority now. Maybe Ryan can turn it up in the next couple weeks and get things right.

Imagine what this offense would look like if it got rolling on all cylinders…

Sickness.

I mean, it is better to peak late in the season – who knows?

Shawty

November 9th, 2009
1:18 pm

From Peter King’s MMQB: g. The Falcons will be a tough out in January. And yes, they’ll be playing football in January.