Can Falcons Rebound Against Cards?

Six Searing Questions as Cardinals Enter Dome

Our dear Birds joined the ranks of going winless after one week and blowing a huge chance in Pittsburgh. The 50 yard jaunt that made every top play across the nation and NFL put a dart in many fans high hopes on the year. Mostly, the first week was a sad continuation of what we saw in preseason (1 touchdown from 1st string in 16 quarters including preseason). Yes, its only one loss to one of the best teams of the last decade, and the history of the NFL, but perturbing doubts have manifested themselves into enormous concerns regarding the offense. For the most part all logical Falcons fans still realize the franchise is on an excellent upward trajectory, but some serious fault lines have developed over the direction of the offense. The Arizona Cardinals come in with a 1-0 record in a barn-burner against St. Louis in week 1. The Falcons are a heavy favorite (-6.5 at last check) against the Cards with no Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby, or Antrel Rolle. Anyone who puts the Falcons as a lock after witnessing the disgustingly weak display of offense should quickly reconsider. Can the Falcons quell some of the growing anxiety of the 2010 season with a win against Arizona? Six Searing Questions to look at………

1) Has Offense Flat-Lined?

Yes, half the teams in the NFL are 0 and 1 and the panic coupled with overreaction has set in. The Jets, Cowboys, Eagles, and even the Colts joined the Falcons in hitting the Big O’fer in Week 1. However, its hard to imagine a team’s offense with so many wide and deep doubts. A common theme was to blame quarterback Matt Ryan, who threw a terrible interception to one of the best safeties of all time when he had a chance to drive the field and win the game. Upon further review, especially after watching Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez, Ryan didn’t fair that terrible against the Steelers completing over 60% of his passes. Although Ryan may not be solely to blame, he didn’t get it done plain and simple. Michael Turner looked like the best 2009 version with pennies in his cleats and looking in slow-motion. The offensive line did extremely poorly in run blocking and the offense became one dimensional. A common theme keeps coming back to offensive Mike Mularkey. The offense has completely regressed since 2008. After adding Future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez and having Matt Ryan gain more experience, the offense is stale, predictable, and overall pretty pathetic. In fact, the offense has gotten worse by the minute. Not many teams have a defense on the level of the Steelers, but a serious question remains: has the Falcons offense peaked under Mularkey?

2) Can William Moore Seize the Moment?

Can Moore Take Control? (AJC)

Erik Coleman is the epitome of consistency in terms of tackling and leadership, but as fans saw on Sunday against the Steelers, his pass coverage is still suspect. Mike Wallace torched Coleman for a long post-corner route that resulted in one of the longest pass plays of the day. He tweaked his knee in the game, but was able to come back finish. If Coleman’s knee doesn’t hold up to treatment than fans will get their long awaited look at William Moore, the oft-injured 2nd round draft pick out of Missouri. Moore showed excellent flashes in preseason with his bone-crushing hits, but is he finally ready for primetime? If he gets the nod, then this is what fans have been waiting for in terms of youth, speed, and agility. If he dominates on Sunday, then he may not come off the field again. But if he sells it short, than Coleman may become too invaluable as long as he’s a Falcons. Is this Moore’s time?

3) Will the True Turner Please Stand Up?

Who knows if it’s the play-calling, the offensive line, or Turner himself but the Falcons running game has gone from total domination in 2008 to weak whimper in 2010. Was it the Birds really weak schedule or Turner’s fresh legs that burst to the Pro Bowl in 2008? Who knows, but Falcons fans are again starting to seriously be concerned about #33. The step down in 2009 was supposed to be due to the injury and the weight gain, but all fans heard in preseason and camp was how in shape and how good Turner looked. Outside of a few runs, Turner has inched closer to the 2009 version while making the 2008 model look much more distant. No one will confuse the Falcons offensive line with that of the Ravens, Vikings, or Jets, but there were holes that were there on Sunday and Turner simply looked slow in the backfield. Again, maybe all the blame can’t be put on Turner, but the more time that goes by, the more #33 looks like he’s peaked. Which Turner is the true running back?

4) Has Defense Really “Arrived?”

A great question: has the Falcons defense finally taken the next step or was it more of a product of the 3rd string QB and a fairly flat offense? Tough call, but the athleticism was present throughout the game in Pittsburgh. Curtis Lofton looks to have possibly taken the leap from tackling machine to play-making linebacker. There was decent pressure most of the day from the front four, especially considering Babineaux was out of the lineup. Abraham and Biermann both had a sack. Mike Peterson had an amazing interception and rookie Sean Weatherspoon looked great in space. Dunta Robinson had some rust but his speed and physical nature was evident. Some good rotation got in at D-Tackle with Corey Peters, Peria Jerry, Trey Lewis, and Vance Walker. Christopher Owens and Brent Grimes had their good moments and the defense generally looked good. But two things still remain: what about the overtime breakdown and was it a product of a 3rd string quarterback play? We’ll soon see.

5) Can Ryan Spread the Ball?

No one’s given Eric Weems a harder time than this author, but he’ll happily eat the biggest crow in the world to say that #14 is for real and legit part of this offense. He caught everything thrown his way and even was ready to score a touchdown after having his helmet ripped off. Harry Douglas looked like his old self with some great catches over the middle. The offense finally looked to get unclogged when the two speedster slots were in the mix and then……they stopped getting the ball. It might be Mularkey’s fault, but Matt Ryan might also be locking in on his old favorites Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. Even though Ryan got the ball to 7-8 different receivers, they were mostly afterthoughts. The long maligned receiving corps actually doesn’t hurt for talent as many (mostly myself) originally thought. Roddy White is a perennial Pro Bowler and Tony Gonzalez is a future Hall of Famer, but Ryan has got to get Weems, Douglas, and Norwood involved to advance the offense. Can #2 get the ball around?

6) Are Defensive Backs Ready for Major Test?

Yes, there’s no Anquan Boldin to pair with the best wide receiver in the NFL, but to mistake this receiving corps for a bunch of lackeys is to make a major mistake. Dunta Robinson showed some rust in his first action of the 2010 campaign, but he did show some nice athleticism and speed. Brent Grimes got on the bad end of a “misfit,” but generally had a good day. Christopher Owens had a nice day in the nickel on Sunday and is ready to go. Not saying that Hines Ward and Mike Wallace aren’t excellent receivers, but adding in Larry Fitzgerald will demand new challenges. Steve Breaston showed on Sunday he can take advantage of single coverage. Early Doucet may be hurt, but if he’s in than the Cardinals may quietly have one of the deepest receiving corps in the NFL without Anquan Boldin. If rookie Andre Roberts gets in the mix, than it may be a long day for the Falcons DBs if they’re not on top of their game. Can Falcons DBs man-up?

***Bonus Question***

Boo Pric-trino As Loud As You Can!

OK, so its not a question but its really the only time that we as Atlanta Falcon fans will have to boo the ever-loving hell out of one of the biggest snakes to ever slither across the NFL, NCAA, State of Georgia, and Football in general. The snake that left town in the middle of the night returns to good ol’ Georgia once again. The guy was such a coward that he couldn’t even talk to his players on the phone and certainly not face-to-face. Like a child in middle school, the gutless wonder left an actual note on his player’s lockers that he was already gone in Arkansas. In hindsight it was the best thing to happen to the Falcons franchise in that we got good, upstanding, and honest men to run our franchise. Bobby Pric-trino will bring his reportedly high-powered offense into Sanford Stadium on Saturday against the Dawgs and maybe even Yellow Jackets might unite in rooting against the slime that is called Pric-trino. I would label the quitter as a Benedict Arnold, but Arnold actually was at least somewhat important in the Patriot Army. Pric-trino is nothing more than a cowardly invertebrate waiting for his next jump. (Cue the late night plane trip from Auburn’s booster to replace Tommy Tuberville…who went on to go 13-0 in the SEC). Too harsh? Relive the gut-wrenching, vomit inducing garbage that follows this link…..  The Night the Snake Slithered Away.

Your Turn

-Has Mularkey’s Offense Flat-lined?

-Can it get any better under the O-Coordinator?

-Is this William Moore’s Big Shot?

-Can he take advantage of his chance?

-Who is the true Turner: 2008 or 2009?

-Defense really arrived or just a 3rd string QB?

-Can Ryan spread the ball?

-Are D-Backs ready for ‘Zona WR corps?

-Is Pric-trino’s Return the best time to lose your voice?

467 comments Add your comment

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

SARAH

September 17th, 2010
10:04 pm

waynester

September 17th, 2010
10:10 pm

It’s that same 3/4 that PITT runs so having Baker and our OL to step and play error-free is paramount. Hopefully the return of of Babineux will lead to more pressure on Anderson and consequently, some opportunities for picks/sacks. Our OL is my main concern going in. If they can’t blast open some gaping holes for our RBs it could be along afternoon. Everything starts with our lines…..

Bangkapi Ajarn

September 17th, 2010
10:11 pm

Damn straight they can rebound, count on it!!

Sporkdevil

September 17th, 2010
10:13 pm

Let’s see if I can hit on this real nice and quick:

1. Yes, the offense looks like garbage. It was against a great Pitt defense, but if we can’t put up double digit numbers in any game, we aren’t going to be playoff contenders. Problem is who will be there to replace Mularkey? I think if after a few games we can’t turn this embarrassment around, we make Musgrave OC and hire the best available coordinator. I’m confident they could not do worse than Mularkey.

2. I’m sure Moore will have some great tackles, but he has such little game experience I’m a little concerned. Luckily, we are just playing against Derrick Anderson, so I don’t expect him to be tested very deep. I would expect some growing pains if he continues to start.

3. Turner? I wish I knew.

4. Defense looked great, even without Babineaux. I can’t wait to see them in midseason form. Top 10 D if they can maintain it.

5. Ryan can very effectively spread the ball to both Roddy White and Gonzo. That’s the only balance the offense has.

6. Heck yeah, DB’s should be great, considering it’s Derrick Anderson.

7. I hope he gets boo’d, people throw stuff at Petrino, and maybe flip his bus and light it on fire. Truly one of the most evil men in the world. Prick.

Box

September 17th, 2010
10:21 pm

1. Matt has to do what you speak of in question #5 to prove otherwise and MT will have to bounce back, as in question #3.
2. It would certainly be nice to have Williams with Coleman as back-up. Very positive depth for the position.
3. If given some solid blocking, Turner will look to redeem himself this week. He hates to have a bad game.
4. Too early to make that statement. They will have arrived when consistency game to game is proven.
5. He has the ability, but is it MM or MR who is keeping this from happening.
6. Yes , they are ready. Whether the pass the test will tell us a great deal about the rest of the season.
5.

Sarah B

September 17th, 2010
10:24 pm

#6 – A major test??? Anderson couldn’t hit one of the best receivers in the league last week???? What test?

Yes we will rebound. Going on the road to Pitt. is never an easy task.

Turner will be fine. Ryan will be fine. The 12th Man will be in full swing. And not questioning our kicker this week? I’m praying for TD’s as my nerves are shot when we try for a field goal.

I know D3… I was out of line on the kicker thing last Sunday because I to was pissed he missed the first one, but I was trying to stay positive & not bash. He misses again this and the gloves are off. Can’t post from the game as I will be there yelling my head off in Sec 342 Row 6 as usual.

Sarah B

September 17th, 2010
10:26 pm

And who is this other mystery Sarah – note the no B.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dawson Devitt, Dawson Devitt and Dawson Devitt, Dawson Devitt. Dawson Devitt said: http://bit.ly/aomQxJ – Can #Falcons Put Any Doubts to Rest Against Cardinals? New Bird Cage Post/ #ajc. Big rebound game or more of same? [...]

SuperBird

September 17th, 2010
10:27 pm

Waynester,thats the problem, the OL is opening holes but Turner is too lackadaisical in attacking the line of scrimmage,by the time he finishes tip toeing and doing the the river dance in the back field, the holes have closed.Also, Tuner needs a hole the size of a Hummer to get to the next level of defense,he is not the type of runner that can hit a crease and be gone.Next years draft we should be shopping for a RB that can run to daylight.

Bangkapi Ajarn

September 17th, 2010
10:28 pm

D3’s questions dejour (LOVE the bonus question!!!!)

-Has Mularkey’s Offense Flat-lined?
IF it has, we are looking at a LOOOONG season. I am hoping Smitty’s firm guidance, combined with some serious talent and a changed up snap count, can overcome the inertia that seems to be controlling MM (sitting on his laurels, or keeping up with cutting edge game planning). 3-4 D’s seem to defeat his game planning/prep efforts, I can’t believe that all our offensive players just don’t absorb coaching for that scheme..

-Can it get any better under the O-Coordinator?
Yes,BUT– I am not saying that we will even be a top 5 offense without a serious infusion of NFL smarts at the O-Coord level, but we should be in the top half based on the talent that TD and Smitty have assembled.

-Is this William Moore’s Big Shot?
A big shot, one of many. He will make rookie mistakes, but this is his shot to show he can make it thru an NFL game intact.

-Can he take advantage of his chance?
Against a banged up Cardinal team, I think so.

-Who is the true Turner: 2008 or 2009?
This is the stuff of Falcon nightmares. I think he still has some great plays in him, but he (and his o-line) just didn’t get NFL ready in the preseason.

-Defense really arrived or just a 3rd string QB?
A bit of both, that 3rd string QB wasn’t too shabby.They are improved, but need time to mature as a unit – that didn’t happen during preseason.

-Can Ryan spread the ball?
Can? Sure. Will? Up to MM, but Ryan needs to develop confidence in his secondary, check-off receivers – and have the time to get to them.

-Are D-Backs ready for ‘Zona WR corps?
Fitz is wounded, their #2 WR is out, so I would say yes. They WILL give up yards (like to Hines Ward last week) but they shouldn’t embarrass themselves too much.

-Is Pric-trino’s Return the best time to lose your voice?
YYEESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!! Love your pic D3, by the way.

D3

September 17th, 2010
10:32 pm

Can’t believe I didn’t get some good laughs from the gollum-bobby prictrino pic.

Great convo’s ladies and gents. Sorry I’ve been out of commission this week. School is kicking my ass this year: new grade level, pile the $— on top. Anyway, can’t wait for this weekend. It was a slow build, but I’m wearing my Falcons hat to the UGA-Ark game tomorrow and losing my voice (j/k, because I gotta get ready for Falcons home opener).

BTW, Falcons365.com is the worst online store in the world for jerseys. I mean they literally have CHEVIS JACKSON as their pic with NO new jerseys up to buy at all. SUCK! Tried to get a Spoon jersey and we get the same old, same old. I can’t buy a Spoon jersey, but I can buy a GD Finneran jersey. Finneran 0-1 pass thrown at in end zone as 5th receiver. C’mon Man!

Sarah B

September 17th, 2010
10:32 pm

Bonus Question – You Dawg’s better bring it this week. Shut up that fool once and for all! Die Hogs Soooweee!

Bangkapi Ajarn

September 17th, 2010
10:36 pm

D3;

The gollum pic WAS great, looks like Prictrino after a day at the spa. Tossed you a couple props in my post, but the second was buried.

Teaching in the states sounds grim!

SuperBird

September 17th, 2010
10:41 pm

D3,Great topics for discussion.

Sarah B

September 17th, 2010
10:41 pm

D3 I was complaining about the jersy thing about a week ago too.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dawson Devitt, D. Orlando Ledbetter. D. Orlando Ledbetter said: AJC's fan blog: Can Falcons Rebound Against Cards? http://bit.ly/9stbIg [...]

falcon21

September 17th, 2010
10:51 pm

SB, what OL are you talking about? Our OLine sucks, period! Don’t blame Ryan or Turner, the OLine needed to be improved after last season but it didn’t happen.

Sarah B

September 17th, 2010
10:55 pm

F21? I didn’t mention the OL. I only said Turner & Ryan will be fine. Although the OL does need to step it up.

falcon21

September 17th, 2010
11:07 pm

Sarah B, I was talking to SuperBird and did not mean to sound negative to either one of you. Our OLine needs a little work.

Sarah B

September 17th, 2010
11:10 pm

Aaaah , sorry I just saw SB.

WR

September 17th, 2010
11:12 pm

Well, my turn, I’ve tried to get away from my controversial past but I feel better keeping things real and being honest with myself and the cage. 1st off Murlarkey, for those who haven’t been apart of the cage for awhile last year about this time we were singing the same song for VanGorder, CBrass called us out on that one, and look where we are now. No defense of Murlarkey but Murlarkey doesn’t play QB for the Falcons Ryan does, there were many plays and offensive sets where Douglas and Weems, or Douglas or Weems were on the field and Ryan didn’t attempt to find them. No matter who the OC is, the play is called for a primary and a secondary, if that falls apart its up to the QB to go through those progressions to find the open man or throw it away. Teams don’t call many plays where they say, hey White is the man this time, Gonzo is the man this time, Douglas is the man this time, or Weems is the man this time, an OC tries to develop plays for the primary weapons in the Falcons case its more then likely Gonzo or White, but those plays are also designed for the other receivers to put themselves in position if the primaries are not available, and its up to the QB to understand that, find them, and get the ball to them.

That being said, the running game is a whole diifferent issue, run plays are designed for your horse or horses, if one horse isn’t getting it done whether its that horse’s fault or the circimstances surrounding that horse, if you have a better one in the stable for those circumstances chances are you might want to use that horse, if not, thats all on the coaches, sadly to say, not Murlarkey, but Smitty, he’s the final say both offensively and defensively, ask Willie Parker why he doesn’t have a job in Pittsburgh, it wasn’t because of his OC, it was because of his defensive minded HC who felt he was’t getting it done, ask Mendenhall what it took to get into his starting role, it wasn’t impressing the OC, he did that from the get go, it was impressing the HC that got him the job.

Win or lose, hopefully win because the cage would be a mess, and Falcon nation would lose almost all faith in a loss, but it all comes down to Smitty and TD. This time a year ago Vangorder was the goat, this year this time its Murlarkey, sorry to say but ultimately the question and shortcomings of an NFL team don’t suffer around the OC or DC, to start out, maybe yes, three years in, no, take the cute demeanor, and well placed gray or white hair out of the way and Smitty comes into question if this team falters, take the rookie of the year honor and all the hype out of the way and Ryan comes into question if this team falters. The hope focuses on Smitty, TD, and Ryan, its easier to blame everything around the hope then the hope itself.

All that being said I believe the team will get on track this week, but three year’s in I am no longer looking to blame coordinators, I’m looking at the HC and the front office from this point and I believe everyone else should too.

Sarah B

September 17th, 2010
11:13 pm

F21 Dahl & Clabo can bring it but Baker worries me.

falcon21

September 17th, 2010
11:14 pm

No problem Sarah.

Not a Falcons fan, Steelers fan.

September 17th, 2010
11:14 pm

No way. It will be another loss. The Falcons will NEVER “Rise Up”. Falcons 0 and 2.

Sarah B

September 17th, 2010
11:20 pm

Good point WR all around. Isn’t that why they call them check down receivers? Check 1 – covered; Check 2 – some what covered; Check 3 – covered, probably held or blocking… back to Check 2 – make the throw or if covered throw it away – No? Don’t take the sack if you can help it.

SuperBird

September 17th, 2010
11:22 pm

Not a Falcons fan,do your mom Know you’re awake?

SuperBird

September 17th, 2010
11:23 pm

Verygood point Sarah B.

falcon21

September 17th, 2010
11:26 pm

Trying to figure out this damn computer Sarah but Dahl and Baker look a little weak to me but after only one game, it’s a little early to judge.

SuperBird

September 17th, 2010
11:26 pm

Enter your comments here

Sarah B

September 17th, 2010
11:28 pm

F21 whats with the computer problems???

Sarah B

September 17th, 2010
11:29 pm

falcon21

September 17th, 2010
11:38 pm

New computer, keyboard is smaller. I’ll figure it out I hope.

Sarah B

September 17th, 2010
11:43 pm

I know the feeling. When I first got the loptop I had to use index finger typing only for the first few months until I got used to the size. I would suck on a Blackberry. To many years of traditional typing. And the laptop laked a 10 key – really hard to get used to.

Sarah B

September 17th, 2010
11:44 pm

Lacked… see it is still too small.

falcon21

September 17th, 2010
11:47 pm

Goodnight Sarah B have a good one. Enjoyed talking to all of yall. I better get in bed before mom finds out I’m still up!!!

Sarah B

September 17th, 2010
11:49 pm

Box

September 17th, 2010
11:53 pm

Sarah B.
The first post must have been Bizarro Sarah.

darrell starks

September 17th, 2010
11:55 pm

WR i co sign 2, i will not put the blame on murlarkey until TD, the HD coach get him a legit number 2 WR, and not no sorry jenkins who have been a big fat dismal of a failure since the falcons drafted him.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

September 17th, 2010
11:57 pm

TD need 2 get on his job and find the ice man a solid WR before it’s 2 late.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

September 18th, 2010
12:00 am

FALCONS VS CARDINALS
FALCONS 20 CARDINAL 17
WIN 1 LOST 1
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!

Sarah B

September 18th, 2010
12:08 am

DS no not 20-17 we will cover the 5.5 spread. 21-10 FALS over CARDS.

darrell starks

September 18th, 2010
12:14 am

SARAH B i think it can happen.
GO FALCONS!!!!!!!

This Gets Old!

September 18th, 2010
12:21 am

1. Maybe it’s time to ask if all of the people who questioned the number of Turner carries in 2008 had it right.

2. With the way the rules are now you almost have to be trying to not be able to throw the ball down the field. The most troubling thing about the Pittsburgh game is the Falcons have been able to focus on the Steelers for months!

3. I’m really troubled by Mike Smith saying “You take what the defense gives you’” ‘Scuse me? To win the South you have to dictate to defenses. Like it or not this coaching staffs’ jobs are probably going to live or die by how they match up against the Saints. Y’all hate it, I REALLY hate it but barring an injury to Drew Brees this doesn’t look like a team that’s going to outscore N.O.

4. I might be in the minority but I don’t think that the defense really stood up last week. Yeah, tons better than ‘09 but boy with a QB making his second start I expected them to take the ball away more. However in their defense he nearly won his previous start against a good team.

5. We keep talking about how the Cards played last week and yeah they’re missing some pieces but they’re still a good team

Sarah B

September 18th, 2010
12:25 am

TGO – Refresh my memory did The Saints only scored 14 pts last week? YES they did.

Sarah B

September 18th, 2010
12:27 am

How is that insurmountable? Think about it – while I go off to bed to Dream about Sunday’s win…

Sarah B

September 18th, 2010
12:30 am

And NO ‘Dream’ cracks Saints fans…

Box

September 18th, 2010
12:31 am

Sarah B.
And a certain D lineman.

Sarah B

September 18th, 2010
12:44 am

Box – do you speak of the Beir Truck?

Box

September 18th, 2010
12:45 am

Sarah,
They are your dreams….The Truck or the recently retired ex-Falcon