Determined Falcons Beat the Jets

Birds Steal a W in New York

Game-Winning Celebration (AP)

((((Editor’s Note))))

Apologies for Length of Time Between Posts. Holiday season is upon us.  Speaking of……..Happy Holidays to all of you and your Families!

The Atlanta Falcons looked as though they may lose another tough fought game as they’ve done many times throughout the year, but they showed an unbelievable determination in beating the gritty New York Jets in frigid Meadowlands Stadium. It wasn’t one of the prettiest games in Birds history, but considering the environment, weather, and eventual outcome, this game possibly could a springboard for future things to come. The offense was wholly unspectacular for most of the 58 and half minutes, but came up in the clutch when it mattered most. The defense had an excellent game (save for one play) and continued to give the offense tons of chances throughout the game. The Falcons showed some serious character in getting a really tough win against a pretty good team in a very difficult environment.

Storylines from the “W” in the Land of Snowballs

1) Brent Grimes’ Amazing Day

Grimes Big Day (AP)

Grimes played a fantastic game filling in for injured Chris Houston, grabbing two interceptions in the game and holding the passing offense to a minimum on the day. After having his ups and downs, Grimes had an excellent day and has showed in two consecutive weeks that he brings more to the defensive table than Chris Houston has in quite some time. Granted, Mark Sanchez is a true rookie and had his challenges on the day, but give credit where its due, Grimes had a big day on tall receivers Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards. After being the most harangued group on the team, rookie Chris Owens and Brent Grimes appear to be the best cornerback combination of the 2009 campaign. Whether Grimes will be a starter in future seasons remains to be seen, but he almost certainly has proven that he will be a part of the Falcons secondary in some form.

2) Excellent Defensive Day

Abe Getting a Sack (AP)

Even though the offensive side of the ball stole the win at the end of the game, the defense should most all the credit for the win. Time and time again, the defense stood tough and kept the Falcons in the game while the offense sputtered for the entire time. Often times the offense either went three and out or only gained one first down in their drives. The Birds defensive unit held the NFL’s number one rushing offense to under 100 yards and held some really talented receivers in check. The defense has gotten the brunt of the blame for the Falcons travails this year, but they are the main reason for the Falcons having a chance at a winning season.

3) Ryan-Gonzalez Connection Pulls the Win

TG Pulls Down TD (AP)

Matt Ryan was questionable up until game time, but showed little effects from the turf toe that kept him out the last two games. The starting quarterback certainly wasn’t perfect and showed a lot of rust in the passing attack, but he managed the game in not turning the ball over on a cold and windy day (same can’t be said of Mark Sanchez) and pulling the win in hitting his favorite target Tony Gonzalez. Even though the Falcons season hasn’t gone according to plan, Gonzo looks to be en route to yet another Pro-Bowl with a chance at 1,000 yards receiving (currently 820) and already six touchdowns on the year. On the game-winning throw and catch, the Jets were inexplicably in a soft zone that allowed Gonzalez to sit down on a dig route and was wide open. He made the catch as always does, and put an exclamation with his patented field goal dunk. Surely it felt good to Ryan after working through an injury riddled year with its share of lows.

4) Jets Missed Opportunities

Missed Opportunities (AP)

The ugliest of wins are infinitely better than the prettiest of losses, but the Jets missed opportunities played an enormous part in the Falcons victory on Sunday. Rookie QB Mark Sanchez had a bad day in throwing 3 interceptions on the day. Credit goes to the defense for making the plays, but Sanchez made some bad decisions as well, particularly the first INT to Thomas DeCoud. The Jets missed three field goals as well, leaving 9 points on the field. One was a miss on a windy day, another was the result of a botched snap, and the final one was blocked by Chauncey Davis. The Jets defense played an excellent game and kept the Falcons in check for over 58 minutes, but their offense didn’t help them out very much at all. Like the Birds, the Jets are a young team that’s learning how to win the close the ones.

5) Lack of Pressure: Defensive Tackle, Defensive Ends, or Schemes?

Hard to argue with a win and a defense that played lights out including 3 picks and 2 sacks, but the lack of pressure by the defensive line came up a good bit. John Abraham ended his streak of no sacks and Thomas Johnson collared in another, but the rookie Sanchez had ample time throughout much of the game. His rookie mistakes were a big part of the Jets offensive issues, but he did have time to throw for most of the contest. Which brings up a good point: which position needs upgrading more, defensive end or defensive tackle? Abraham had an all-star year last season, but has struggled a good bit in 2009. Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury Jr have talent but are both very green. Has Jamaal Anderson moved to defensive tackle permanently? Chauncey Davis has proven to be a solid backup, but hasn’t made transition to super-starter. DT is much more unsettled with Peria Jerry expected back from a big injury, Jonathan Babineaux expected to be suspended for at least four games, and whether or not Trey Lewis has returned to his rookie form. Thomas Johnson has the heart of a lion, but does he add much more than Anderson or Peria Jerry? Vance Walker has played very well as a 7th round draft pick, but is future starter or good rotation? The upcoming draft looks to be stockpiled with defensive line talent, so which needs more help: DE or DT?

6) Standings Update

Apologies for the extreme lapse of time between standings updates, but here we are with two games to go in the 1st Annual Bird Cage Season Prediction Competition………..

Home-Field Advantage, 13-1

JohnWaynesWorld, SPS

1st Round Byes, 12-2

Ed, Seminole, FalconsforLife, DW, JJ

Division Winners, 11-3

Jonathan, MRyan, Russ, Warbucks, Brian Hunt, sportaree, Sarah B., CBrass

Wild Card Spots, 10-4

D3, Chris, Joseph R., WR, Lil’ Dave, Nookah, tbird, A.Dylan Thomas

In the Hunt, 9-5

Dean21, Boxcarar, Birdman

Struggling for Postseason, 8-6

Black Talon, downsouthdirtybird

Out Like our Birds, 7-7

Ed-Covington

Convo Starter

With Jason Snelling proving to be a solid number two back to Michael Turner, will Jerious Norwood be suiting in red and black in 2010? Snelling certainly doesn’t have Norwood’s blazing speed to complement Turner, but he has shown to be much more reliable and runs really hard between the tackles. Snelling has also proven to be extremely versatile in the passing game as well. Should the Falcons look to keep #32, with the possibility of getting him for a bargain, and use the draft picks in much more needed areas? Or should they be willing to spend a draft pick (later round perhaps) on a new speedy complement to Turner and Snelling?

Happy Holidays to You and Your Families and……GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!

115 comments Add your comment

Sarah B

December 23rd, 2009
3:19 am

Happy Holidys All!!!

DRumph

December 23rd, 2009
3:49 am

Really, it is the offensive playcalling along with injuries which makes Norwood look like trade bait. But what you must understand, playing with injuries are difficult, yet he plays through them. You must respect that much. Also, if OC Mularky comes up with a little more creativeness with Norwood on the field, such as screens, draws, and swing passes, it would be a nice speedy mix-up to a lack-luster passing attack. Ryan will grow, White is developing, Gonzo is Gonzo, Turner will be back to burning in 2010. So the outlook is bright… give the FLASH another year to be 100% and show his potential as we saw back at Miss. State…

And with the defense, ITS THE BLEEPING SIMPLE PLAYCALLING…. Mike Smith should run his own defense… Van G needs take classes…. He has a solid D when different looks and aggressive stunts blitzes are called… The Secondary… Just let the guys mold… D-Line…Yes, the DT position has decent help,but draft should look for Abraham’s replacement. Draft a solid DE who should be ready to start by 2011-12, or providing a rush whenever called upon…

I see Super Bowl in the Falcons near future if the Falcons coaches and players are all on the same page…2010 or 2011 may be it!!!

Ed

December 23rd, 2009
5:23 am

Great work as always D3, and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours. There’s still much to play for and finishing out the season on a high note and a winning season would be big. Speaking of RB’s, if by some miracle CJ Spiller is still on the board when the Falcons pick they simply must take him. He’s going to be a big star in this league, and no way do I think he will still be around, but he’s just too good to pass on. .

BT

December 23rd, 2009
5:32 am

The question of re-signing Norwood boils down to a question of, do you want have to draft (or sign) one new RB or two?
Snelling is Ovie`s primary backup and that leaves only Norwwod and Turner as the two pure RB`s on the roster.
Unless your plans are to bring back (a 30+ year old) Aaron Stecker?
I doubt that.

A similar situation exist at WR also, even with the return of a healthy Harry Douglas.
The team is set to be thin at the position due to the trading away of Lorent Robinson and age and injuries making the return of Marty Booker and Brian Finneran doubtful.
Drafting a WR in this coming Aprils draft is almost a certainty, IMO

Falcons Minority Owner

December 23rd, 2009
8:17 am

You’ll be needing someone to replace Turner if he doesnt allow his ankle to heal properly. To listen to Mike Smith say they’re trying to play him these last two games, the day after Turner himself admitted he had to START OVER on rehab after Sunday is completely baffling. The guy had one carry and was done for the day, yet he may play the very next Sunday? Turner is being sacrified and its quite sad really. He’s about to go the way of those backs with chronic injuries that shuffle around from team to team until they finally realize they cant go anymore.

LRD

December 23rd, 2009
8:39 am

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all the Cagers.
Thank you all for the education, conversations and insights this year into our Falcons. My wife says my following of the falcons turned into a true obsession this year, and kinda blames you all…HA
If we can retain Norwood cheaply, then do so. Snelling has shown grit and desire and rotating him in and out to rest Turner may could be best future options . Cbrass posted an article on previous blog about Peterson and the over use of running backs. Could have 2008 season overused Turner leading to slow start and then injury? Or was it the extra weight he was carrying coming into this season?

I do not know and think we use a high draft for a WR. Much rather see DE, DT, OLB, Corner, O-line picks myself. i know Jenkins is bordering on #2-#3.. but Douglas back next year, and we can probably get a good #3 without using a high draft better used on D.
(Sidenote: I still like that Brandon Marshall discussion.. just dont think we can afford him..and actually he has shown not to be poison in locker room , but is that part of his way to market himself for more money…as no-one wants dissension in the locker room)

WR

December 23rd, 2009
9:28 am

D3, great post as usual, not to rattle the boat but I got to stick to what I believe in, not whats politically correct, and wish everybody a Merry Christmas, which is the reason for the season.

On to the Falcons, most believe the Falcons will take a look at the defensive side of the ball in the early goings of the draft, I see where that thinking comes from but beyond a shutdown corner, or a super-stud LB, I think all aspects of the team and upgrading the team are open to taking a pick early in the draft. One key area of concern is at the DT spot but I offer this, Peria Jerry was picked this year as a first rounder, he showed signs why before he got hurt, his replacements while not flashy, have all come together to at least show signs of being able to stop the run,abate, not generating much of a inside push for the pass rush. Unless something off the charts happens Babs is in place, Jerry will return next year, Walker and Johnson have showed good signs of being rotational players, maybe the Falcons add another DT but chances are they won’t be looking for a starting DT so picking one in the first two rounds probably won’t happen. As for the LBs and DBs, Lofton has established himself as a stud in the middle, Nicholas has shown alot of promise in his first year, yes at times he has struggled, but he has grown and definitely shown promise, Peterson was a stop gap from the get go, he probably will continue in that role but I can see the birds making a pick in for a weakside backer in the first few rounds, because an upgrade now or eventually here is needed. Decoud has shown good range, plus William Moore showed signs of promise when not injured which pretty much has been the whole season, add Erik Coleman who is not that young and safety seems to not be a position of the biggest concern. As far as CBs, Owens as a rookie is looking good give or take a bad play, all corners make him, its the ones who limit them who end up being the best. Grimes makes the most of his chances considering his physical stature, he plays with heart and soul, so he’s a keeper, Houston on the other hand has shown no signs of improvement, he’s strong against the run, but not so much against the pass, upgrade needed and coming but I’m not sure it happens in the draft with a rookie already growing into the position on the other side, I expect a free agent pickup here unless there is an absolute shutdown corner in the draft in the position the Falcons wll pick in, chances are there won’t be.

Funny thing is that most of the Falcons injuries early in the season were on defense, on offense you lose your number 1 RB and QB late in the season and overall the defense with a large number of young players and first timers has improved or remained the same as last year’s team, which is not a bad thing, but your offense has dropped substantially with what was veteran players built around a second year QB, now I ask, is defense surely the way to go this offseason, or with an open mind can we see that there are also major needs on offense that need to be addressed. Outside of Turner who has been injured recently, White, and Gonzo where are your playmakers on offense, even the Niners lost Gore who is considered their best player, for awhile, but they survived and looked fairly decent doing so, what about the Falcons, they found a good number 2 in snelling, but its time to get something for Norwood before everyone else finds out the guy can’t stay on the field.

Coop

December 23rd, 2009
9:53 am

Merry Christmas Cage. Saw the game Sunday then drove from ATL to Charlotte to pick up household 6 who got snowed in Norfolk. Crazy few days with half my family in the hospital and the other half stuck in the snow. So I was playing St. Bernard or Nurse. Anyway, no chance to catch up on the blog.

Sunday was a GREAT game. Take a breath and read that again. Sunday was a GREAT game. We just lost any shot at the playoffs, we’re playing the best defense in the league, it’s freezing, we’re in NY, the offense is struggling, we lose Turner again… and we win! That was one of the most positive steps in the “process” I’ve seen this year. This win could be as big as the Chicago game next year.

The Falcons had every opportunity to roll over and die. They could have mailed in the season and lost the last 3 and it would have felt… normal. But this team seems determined. How long has it been since we’ve seen a team determined?

I like Owens a lot. He got burned big time by Edwards (where the hell was the safety), but let’s remember he’s a 3rd round rookie in his 3rd start. That’s the 1st time I’ve seen him smoked… and it didn’t happen again. He’s got tons of potential. Grimes is ridiculous, but I don’t see him being a permanent solution. That was a bad rookie performance by Sanchez. Grimes is definitely a ST superstar though.

DT, DT, DT. Nothing will fix our Dline until we get that anchor. We may need a DE, but the 1st rounder should be on a huge DT. Next pick on a DE, then OT, OT, OT. Get a quality CB in FA if possible.

Keep Norwood if you can, otherwise, draft a scat back. Keep Snelling and employ all 3 if healthly next year.

Tons of promise from this team. I am very encouraged for next year.

BT

December 23rd, 2009
10:11 am

WR asked
” Is defense surely the way to go this offseason, or with an open mind can we see that there are also major needs on offense that need to be addressed?”
No question about it in my mind.
I can see RB, WR and OL on the list of needs to be addressed.
That not to say the needs on defense should be ignored but perhaps it`s time to take a more balanced approach.

MSS

December 23rd, 2009
10:54 am

I think we need to release Chris Houston and sign a vet CB and if we can get our hands on good WR in the draft that would be good

Birdman

December 23rd, 2009
10:58 am

D3, SW,CBrass. JJ. Unca Bob , Sarah,Jason, ED,BT,WR,Wayne W ,Coop,Falcon21, Falcon for life,DW, LiL Dave,Nookah, Dean21,Boxcar,LRD,Black Talon,downsouth,Ed covington,And anyone else I may have forgot here in the cage.
May our lord and Saviour Jesus Christ ,Touch your lives and bring happiness and joy to you all .
To all of you thanks for all the thoughts ( good and bad ) that you have all brought to me this year.
God Bless and have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS

WR

December 23rd, 2009
11:10 am

BT, your football insight has been tremendous this season, I’m sure everyone thats truly a part of this blog will say the same. As I said earlier in the season, I’m just looking for the Falcons to continue to grow into a contender, for all the talk of the 43 years of not having back to back winning seasons, you normally don’t put that to rest within two years, you put it together with time. There have been so many holes on this team this year, most tend to focus on the D, hell I was one of them, but honestly speaking the D has shown signs of improvement while the offense has regressed even with very good improvements. We as fans, and the Falcons themselves acknowledged they expected the D to struggle, but if we stop looking at whats on paper, it hasn’t been the struggles of the D that has hurt this team, its the struggles of the O, and thats long before the injuries, and thats considering a tougher schedule.

Speaking of the tougher schedule theme, what’s a tougher schedule, is it schedule of going up against front offices and teams that actually know what their doing or is it about the what teams did in the previous year. I think its the latter, the front office and teams with a legitimate plan on what they’re doing are always contenders, even during down years, thats what I want from the Falcons more then ending a back to back winning seasons drought, and I believe thats what the Falcons are aiming toward, thats what makes the Falcons, finally a good product for fans of Atlanta.

falcon21

December 23rd, 2009
3:12 pm

Wishing all of you Cagers a very Merry Christmas. I enjoy talking with you gals and guys. Because of the cage, the season never ends!!!

JJ

December 23rd, 2009
6:41 pm

WR, YOUR GOING DOWN BUDDY, 2009 BIRD CAGE FFL CHAMPIONSHIP!!!

JJ

December 23rd, 2009
6:44 pm

BOOYAH BIOTCH! LOL

BT

December 23rd, 2009
6:50 pm

WR,
Thanks, for your kind words, your football knowledge and wisdom is truly astute, as is some other outstanding bloggers in the cage.
I have learned and enjoyed being a member here.
Just do me one favor, take that guy out.
You know the one, he sometimes shouts in all caps!..LOL

BT

December 23rd, 2009
7:34 pm

By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Kris Kringle of pigskin

The 700 Club isn’t what it used to be.

Sure, Pat Robertson still buys time on your least-favorite local cable channel, and he has his followers. But the Club is less popular each year as old folks depart the world and their ancestors spend the inheritance on video games.

The 7-and-7 Club, on the other hand, is alive and well in the NFL – and we’re not talking about the favorite holiday cocktail of Uncle Merle and his drinking buddies.

Fittingly, there are seven 7-7 teams out there, ranked anywhere from 14th (Tennessee) to 22nd (Jacksonville).

Each of them has great strengths that have been counteracted by crushing weaknesses. In this holiday season, let’s look at what each team needs in its Christmas stocking.

Tennessee: A game-breaking safety. To help a secondary that’s surrendered 28 TDs (31st) and to shore up a mediocre run defense (4.2 YPA). What’s Ronnnie Lott doing these days?

Miami: A closer. The Dolphins played even with New England (twice), Indy, New Orleans and San Diego … but won only one of those five games. Can Mariano Rivera play football?

The Jets: A veteran QB. Having the best defense in the league is nice, but having a pick-prone rookie QB wasn’t the smoothest fit here. Whatever happened to that guy they had last year? Or the other guy the year before that?

Houston: A stud defensive tackle. The Texans are No. 22 on the Defensive Hog Index and, despite years of drafts devoted to the defensive front, one more big body underneath could have made the difference in their close games.

Pittsburgh: A cure for the Super Bowl hangover. Barring a miracle, this will be the third straight Steelers Super Bowl champ to miss the playoffs the following season (8-8 in 2006, 9-7 in 1980). (Hey, Pittsburgh, call us: the CHFF crew knows a thing or two about curing hangovers.)

Jacksonville: The second coming of Lawrence Taylor. The Jaggies stop the run (3.9 YPA, 7th), but are dead last in forcing Negative Pass Plays (5.75%).

Atlanta: Someone special on defense. Looking at Atlanta’s defensive numbers, it’s surprising that they’re even .500. The Falcons allow 5.8 yards per play, they’re 30th in our Defensive Hog Index, and 32nd in third-down defense. Maybe a healthy Peria Jerry will solve the problem next year.

Seven tumblers of 7 and 7 is a great way for a Troll to spend a Christmas eve alone. But the NFL’s seven 7-7s would like to be making playoff plans: unlikely, though, even if they were to get their Christmas wish.

http://www.coldhardfootballfacts.com/Images/DrunkSanta5.jpg

boxcarar

December 23rd, 2009
8:37 pm

JJ,
Tell us how excited you really are…

stendec

December 23rd, 2009
10:24 pm

Pray streak of futility continues! I hate all losers affiliated with this organization except for Tony Gonzalez. The former Chief is the only athlete on team that goes all out every second and gives a damn about fans! All other quitter Falcons are thugs, criminals or low life quitters that can go to Hell. May streak extend for decades longer! Just what Falcons and their racist fans deserve. ++STENDEC++

darrell starks

December 24th, 2009
2:38 am

Great game by the defense.
GO FALCONS!!!!

JJ

December 24th, 2009
5:19 am

Unca' Bob

December 24th, 2009
6:01 am

For those that were around for last years draft, ESPN has a “rewind” of the draft.

http://sports-ak.espn.go.com/nfl/index

Unca' Bob

December 24th, 2009
6:02 am

JJ,

What’s up with the frowny face?

Unca' Bob

December 24th, 2009
6:37 am

JJ,

I just saw. Bolden. Man, what a blind side. Sorry.

BT

December 24th, 2009
7:28 am

WOW, JJ That`s tough.

BT

December 24th, 2009
7:33 am

Congrats to Lil Dave in the final and good luck, he`s gonna need it.

Dr Phil

December 24th, 2009
2:33 pm

stendec,
You do realize to opposite of love is not hate but indifference?
Hate is a very close emotion to love but something has soured your heart, much like that of a jilted love for someone that has chose to love another.
The issues you face is coming to terms with your emotions rest more with you than, the object of your love/hate relationship.
After all, you have no control over the object of your affection and I do highly recommend that you get back on your medications.
That`s your only hope of coming to terms with your run away emotions and returning as a useful and productive member of society.

Sincerly yours,
Dr Phill

JJ

December 24th, 2009
5:19 pm

Merry Christmass bird-cage family!!! ;)

Sarah B

December 24th, 2009
5:29 pm

Merry Christmas JJ as well as all the Cage faithful fans.

BT

December 24th, 2009
7:04 pm

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

Sportaree

December 24th, 2009
11:44 pm

D3, Boxcarar, Birdman, Sarah B and all at the Cage. Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year. Enjoy!

boxcarar

December 25th, 2009
1:19 am

To all of my football Cage family, Be safe in your travels, and have a wonderful holiday season. I’ve made it to Birmingham, and will be ready to meet later in the post XMas week. May all of your Holiday travels be safe.

jason

December 25th, 2009
1:43 am

Birdman, Thanks for the 10:58 AM post. I feel likewise to the core members of the CAGE. I am rarely on much due to my new career direction. I am home until 1 JAn, and then I will leave again for who knows how long. I broke my foot so I will have to wait and see what the next step is. I want to wish everyone in the CAGE a Merry Christmas. This has to be my best one yet.

Also want to give D3 and the CAGE Posse, WR, SW, Sara B, and others a big Thank you for allowing me to enter the CAGE where so many knowledgable football minds join to talk the game we all love. I have enjoyed and will hopefully be back on a regular basis soon, once I get this training out of the way. Again, Merry Christmas to all in the CAGE>

Sarah B

December 25th, 2009
2:02 am

Box, I’ll be at the game Sunday but if you will still be here for the Tampa game let’s meet somewhere.

Sarah B

December 25th, 2009
2:29 am

Or otherwise for lunch or dinner…

Unca' Bob

December 25th, 2009
5:58 am

Merry Christmas to all. Please enjoy a safe and Happy Holiday period.

JJ

December 25th, 2009
6:21 am

Morning, Merry Christmas, found this article on ESPN, posted last night:
(Baileys and coffee, match made in heaven!)

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan doesn’t believe his limited participation in practice this week will affect whether he starts Sunday against Buffalo.

Coach Mike Smith listed Ryan as “limited” after a two-hour session Thursday.

“I’m feeling pretty good. I’m getting a little better every day, which is a good thing,” Ryan said. “I’m just doing everything that I can at this point to get it back to where I can go back out there and play well.”

A toe injury has prevented Ryan from participating fully in practice since the week of a 20-17 win over Tampa Bay. He missed two games, home losses to Philadelphia and New Orleans, before returning last week to help the Falcons take a road victory last week against the New York Jets.

Considering Ryan has just one loss in 13 career starts at the Georgia Dome, Atlanta needs him to help salvage the team from continuing a 44-year franchise history with no consecutive winning records.

After facing the Bills (5-9), the Falcons (7-7) end the season next week at Tampa Bay.

Ryan proved to Smith last week in pregame warmups at Giants Stadium that his turf toe injury had healed enough to let him effectively plant his feet and make accurate throws.

After enduring a difficult three quarters, Ryan showed why he was last year’s NFL offensive rookie of the year. He began making accurate reads against the blitzing Jets and completed four of six third-down passes in the fourth quarter.

On fourth-and-goal and 1:13 remaining, Ryan and tight end Tony Gonzalez connected on a tight inside route and a 6-yard winning touchdown.
Ryan, the No. 3 overall draft pick of 2008, started every game last year and the first 12 this season before leaving in the first quarter against Tampa Bay.

“I was a little bit sore on Monday, but not bad,” Ryan said. “I felt good, feel good today, and hopefully can get out and knock some of that rust off again when we get out working in the walk through and practicing.”

Ryan’s close friend, receiver Brian Finneran, believes the quarterback will maintain the high capacity he showed late against the Jets.

“As much as they stopped us throughout most of the game, a few good plays in recognizing blitzes and hitting Jerious (Norwood) in the flat on two good hot reads, little things like that come up big,” Finneran said. “He’s a good football player and a good competitor, but again it gets back to studying and understanding defenses. The desire is there.”

NOTES: Finneran, whose season ended two weeks ago with torn knee ligament, said he plans to visit renowned orthopedist James Andrews next month and get a diagnosis that could determine whether the 11th-year veteran returns in 2010. Finneran missed all of 2006-07 after undergoing two reconstructive surgeries on his right knee. … RCB Chris Houston (hamstring) and Pro Bowl RB Michael Turner (ankle) did not practice Thursday. … Listed as limited in participation were two other offensive starters, LT Sam Baker (elbow, hamstring) and RG Harvey Dahl (ankle), and three other defensive starters, DE Jamaal Anderson (chest), DT Jonathan Babineaux (shoulder), LB Curtis Lofton (shoulder, hamstring).

BT

December 25th, 2009
10:55 am

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — An ankle injury prevented Buffalo Bills starter Ryan Fitzpatrick from practicing, opening the possibility for Brian Brohm to make his NFL debut at Atlanta this weekend.

Interim head coach Perry Fewell declined to rule out Fitzpatrick on Wednesday, saying the quarterback was feeling better after he was hurt in a 17-10 loss against New England last weekend. Fewell did rule out Trent Edwards, after the backup also hurt his ankle last weekend.

Brohm spent a majority of practice working with the first-team offense, ahead of Gibran Hamdan, who re-signed with Buffalo on Tuesday.

Brohm was selected by Green Bay in the second round of the 2008 draft. The Bills acquired Brohm in November after signing him off of the Packers practice squad.

BT

December 25th, 2009
11:05 am

Vagas odds makers have put the Falcons at -9 over the Bills with an over/under of 41.
Means they are looking at something in the area of a 20/10 win by the Falcons.

CBrass

December 25th, 2009
11:21 am

JJ/BT,

Thanks for the articles.

To everyone I just wanted to wish a Merry Christmas. Hope you all are safe in your travels!!!

Lil'Dave

December 25th, 2009
1:37 pm

Merry Christmas everyone!

All I want is back to back winning seasons! And a FFL trophey me and JJ can drink beer out of! I’ve had a blast this season getting to know all of you and talking football. Its truely been a blessing and I wish you all the best for you the New Year!

For all my FFL peeps: Can you say underdog? Wish me luck! Jason the Markers made it to the top of the mountain!

GO FALCONS!

Lil'Dave

December 25th, 2009
1:37 pm

And CBrass thank you again for that link last weekend! Good looking out!

robertussen

December 25th, 2009
7:10 pm

I’m not going to bore you all with strenous explanations, but instead, with some delicious food for your hungry brains. In a non-disturbing, non-zombie related way, of course.

Basically, everyone that’s been worrying about Ryan really needs to calm down, because he has NOT regressed nearly as much as people have been saying. I have no doubt that he will return next year with a far superior season to this sophomore slump he’s been experiencing. But on the other hand, when you look at the games he’s played…can you really be too upset? I’ll lay it out simply.

The falcons schedule is, and admittedly has been, one of the most painstaking in the NFL this year. But a look at the statistics prove that it’s a much harder schedule for Ryan himself than for the team as a whole, which points simply to his much lesser stats. Take a look at the top 10 pass defenses in the NFL.
Rank Team 2009 Last 3 Last 1 Home Away 2008
1 NY Jets (7-7) 159.6 101.3 152.0 148.9 170.3 234.5
2 Denver (8-6) 177.5 150.0 102.0 179.3 175.7 229.1
3 Buffalo (5-9) 185.7 133.0 115.0 168.3 198.8 204.4
4 Carolina (6-8) 192.6 234.3 196.0 175.3 210.0 212.7
5 Washington (4-10) 194.1 281.0 273.0 197.6 190.6 193.8
6 Baltimore (8-6) 200.3 160.0 98.0 167.1 244.5 191.1
7 Chicago (5-9) 203.2 163.0 222.0 189.7 216.7 241.2
8 Tampa Bay (2-12) 203.9 179.7 252.0 187.7 216.1 187.3
9 New England (9-5) 205.9 214.3 136.0 161.0 250.9 201.4
10 NY Giants (8-6) 206.4 296.3 213.0 228.1 184.6 197.2

So, do any of the teams look familiar? I hope so. As you can see, we have faced 8 of those top 10 pass defenses throughout our already ugly schedule. And on top of that, we faced Tampa Bay and Carolina TWICE. Basically, 10 of our 16 games are against top 10 pass defenses. Ugly, in a word.

But wait, there’s more? Well, Ryan ALSO sat out two of our games against easier pass defenses, being New Orleans (No. 24) and Philadelphia (No. 14). Not only does this jab a stick at the eyes of the Redman lovers who want him in over Ryan, as he faced the “easy” teams, but it also highlights how difficult Ryan has had it. Assuming that he plays for the next two games, he will have had to face teams in the top 10 pass-defense rankings 10 times out of 14.

And on top of that, do injuries ring a bell? Injuries to the line have caused him to make hasty decisions, and drops by Michael Jenkins, as well as the loss of capable 3rd down reciever Harry Douglas, AND Jerious Norwood’s long-term absence…should I even continue?

Redman also didn’t have to compete with 4 – yes, FOUR – teams coming off of their byes. He didn’t have to compete with four well-rested teams (Giants, Redskins, Bears, Cowboys), three of whom are in the top 10 pass defense already and DON’T need an excuse to make QBs perform poorly.

When it comes down to it, 1 INT per game doesn’t look so bad at all. Thoughts?

Boxcarar

December 25th, 2009
8:27 pm

Happy Holiday Greetings Cagres! I have made it to Georgia. I will be back in Atlanta after Tuesday. Hope to meet up with some of you near the end of the week.

CBrass

December 25th, 2009
9:18 pm

Sarah B

December 25th, 2009
11:06 pm

robertussen:

Rank Team 2009 Last 3 Last 1 Home Away 2008
1 NY Jets (7-7) 159.6 101.3 152.0 148.9 170.3 234.5 – WON
2 Denver (8-6) 177.5 150.0 102.0 179.3 175.7 229.1 – Didn’t play
3 Buffalo (5-9) 185.7 133.0 115.0 168.3 198.8 204.4 – Will Win Sunday
4 Carolina (6-8) 192.6 234.3 196.0 175.3 210.0 212.7 – WON 1 out of two
5 Washington (4-10) 194.1 281.0 273.0 197.6 190.6 193.8 – WON
6 Baltimore (8-6) 200.3 160.0 98.0 167.1 244.5 191.1 – Didn’t play
7 Chicago (5-9) 203.2 163.0 222.0 189.7 216.7 241.2 – WON
8 Tampa Bay (2-12) 203.9 179.7 252.0 187.7 216.1 187.3 – WON 1 – Will win again
9 New England (9-5) 205.9 214.3 136.0 161.0 250.9 201.4 – Lost
10 NY Giants (8-6) 206.4 296.3 213.0 228.1 184.6 197.2 – Lost to crappy OT rules…

Yes I see a pattern. We won most of them. I was never calling for Redman over Ryan, I am not stupid. But Redman did an good job, except for the Philly game which was God awful in every respect. We have done exceptionally well, especially with our skechty defense.

GO Falcons – Win Sunday and give me a Happy New Year with Back to back Winning Seasons!!!

Sarah B

December 25th, 2009
11:13 pm

And to those who say that doesn’t matter… IT DOES!!! I am so sick of hearing everbody especially announcers, read last Sunday at Jets when it wasn’t near over yet, saying ‘oh and the Falcons have never had back to back winning seeasons in 42 years’ laugh laugh laugh…

I’m tired of that crap…

So yes it is important, at least to me as a die hard Falcons fan.

Sarah B

December 25th, 2009
11:14 pm

Box. how long will you be here??? Send e-mail…

WR

December 25th, 2009
11:21 pm

Finally got a chance to wind down from a long, and I mean a long two days of Christmas, that happens when all of your family is in GA. Thank you for a great year and season from the birdcage family. Special shout back at you Jason, we didn’t allow you to enter the cage, you took a great position, you stuck with your position whether it was in agreement or disagreement and you never showed a sign of disrespect, to me that sounds like a really good friend if not a brother, and either of those works for me when referring to you, be safe, take care of that foot, and I look forward to many more conversations in the birdcage, thank you for what you have offered the birdcage, and thank you more for your service to this country.

D3, what an amazing job, balancing a family and giving us faithful members of the cage something to look forward to each and every week, and at times every few days, takes a strong man, and you my friend have done. I could go on but I know I hear from you even after the season as we were last year, so lets keep it up, you know I’ll be with you.

Seminole, JJ, Nookah, Falcon21, Stirg, BT, Unca’Bob, Sarah B, Box, CBrass, Lil’Dave, and others I may have missed, some of you ventured into the cage later, some of you were here before the cage was born, some I have had disagreements with, some I have agreed with, some I probably alienated, some I grew closer too, regardless of how things have been during the season, you all have made a down year not seem as bad, and I thank you all for it, most of the regulars developed a bond during the offseason, and as it approaches I ask that you all stick around because I believe great things are coming for our one true love of this blog, The Atlanta Falcons, and you all should be here during the before, but it makes the after seem so much better.

Alright its Christmas, a time of forgiveness, but if I go on any longer, some may reconsider, so Merry Christmas to all who are apart of the birdcage, thank you for a great season of conversation.

Sarah B

December 25th, 2009
11:32 pm

WR, I concur.